HUNTINGTON, West Virginia (Ticker) -- Central Florida's first taste of conference play was bittersweet.
Byron Leftwich threw two touchdowns to Josh Davis and Brandon Carey rushed for a season-high 142 yards as Marshall held on for a 26-21 victory over Central Florida in the Mid-American Conference opener for both teams.
The Golden Knights are the newest member of the MAC after 23 years of non-conference play. They had the daunting task of beginning the program's new era against Marshall, which has won four of the last five league titles.
Leftwich completed 28-of-49 passes for 340 yards and overcame two interceptions as the Herd totaled 511 yards. His favorite target was Davis, who caught six passes for 87 yards, including TDs of 18 and 36 yards.
Carey, who had just 40 yards rushing in the first two games of the season, carried 28 times as the Herd won their 10th consecutive conference opener.
Carey gave Marshall (2-1) the lead for good at 17-14 with a one-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter.
Curtis Head kicked a 22-yard field goal late in the first half and Leftwich threw his second TD pass to Davis seven minutes into the third quarter for a 26-14 lead.
Central Florida's Ryan Schneider capped a 67-yard drive with a 19-yard pass to Alex Haynes 98 seconds into the fourth quarter. But the Golden Knights were unable to draw closer in the final 13 minutes.
Central Florida (0-3) was forced to punt on consecutive possessions before Schneider threw interceptions on the final two drives.
The Golden Knights had the ball at the Marshall 47 with two minutes left when Terrence Tarpley intercepted Schneider's final pass to seal the outcome.
Schneider was 17-of-34 for 269 yards and two touchdowns for the Golden Knights, who committed three turnovers. Alex Haynes ran 26 times for 131 yards and a score for UCF.