95: A Look Back

In 95 days, Doc Holliday and his 2014 Marshall football team will take on the Miami Redhawks in Oxford, Ohio. Beginning today, herdhaven.com will take a look at the number of days remaining and parlay that into a trip down memory lane. Today, we focus on the number 95.

Currently, Marshall does not have a player on the roster with the number 95, however, with two defensive tackles, and three defensive ends coming in with the new recruiting class, that should change.

In 1995, Marshall was in the midst of an incredible run of playoff appearances. The Herd had made the title games in 91, 92, and 93, and lost on the road to Boise State in the semi finals in 1994. In that game, Marshall held a lead throughout the first half of double digits, before the Broncos caught up and eventually surpassed the Herd and came into Huntington the following week to play Youngstown State for the championship game.

The 95 season saw the Herd battle their way back to the title game, and it wasn't easy. For starters, Marshall lost their first two quarterbacks due to injuries in the first three weeks. Marshall managed to win two of those games and lose only the opener on the road to NC State 33 – 16. Larry Harris and Mark Zban then got hurt, turning the reigns over to a skinny, floppy haired freshman from Tennessee named Chad Pennington. The legend began. In the first game, on the road, Pennington threw six interceptions and still managed to lead the Herd to a 35 to 32 win against UT Chattanooga.

Marshall would battle throughout the season and in the semifinals found themselves on the road, against heavily favored McNeese State. Marshall played a nearly flawless football game and Herd fans would get to see their team again the following week at home against Montana.

Marshall took a late lead on an incredible run by Chris Parker. The Joan exploded, for those in attendance, many would agree the stadium may have never been as loud as in that moment. However, the Grizzlies would move down the field and score a late touchdown, then, a 60+ yard field goal attempt from Tim Openlander would fall short, and the Herd would be defeated 22 to 20.

Marshall of course would bounce back the next year to win the championship game in dominating fashion over Montana 49 to 29.

In sticking with the number 95, lets take a look at the season that took place 95 years ago. The year was 1919, most of the country was more interested in the Black Sox Scandal, or the fact that World War I was finally over. At Marshall, the football team was set to take the field for the first time in two years, as the season was scrapped in 1918 due to the war. Marshall was coming off an awful campaign in 1917 as the herd finished 1 – 7 – 1.

1919 was different as head coach Carl Shipley set out to lead the Herd. Marshall stormed out of the gate with a 79 to 0 win over Morris Harvey. The Herd would continue that domination throughout the season. By the time the dust settled, Marshall had outscored its opponents 302 to 13. Marshall was led by all everything Doug Freutal. Freutal ended his epic campaign with 113 points scored in 8 games. He tallied 17 touchdowns and 9 extra points.

Only two team scored on the 1919 Thundering Herd. Greenbrier was defeated by Marshall 29 to 7, and Muskingum battled hard but fell 19 to 7.

Could this be some foreshadowing to the 2014 Marshall football season. Most experts would agree Marshall should enter the season as at least a touchdown favorite against everyone on its schedule. Can Marshall live up to the lofty expectations? With senior leadership at quarterback, center, defensive tackle, and middle linebacker, they most definitely should.

As a side note, the excitement over the 1919 season that fans of Marshall enjoyed was short lived, very short lived. For some reason, following the season, Marshall replaced Coach Shipley with new head coach Herbert Cramer.

Cramer began the season with a road loss to Army 38 to 0. That would be an example of what was to come as 7 games later the Herd had failed to win a game. Not only had they failed to win a game, they didn't even score a point. Marshall was outscored 247 to 0. That is a 436 point turnaround from the previous season which has to be some type of record. The Morris Harvey game alone was a 126 point difference as Marshall went from winning by 79 points to losing 47 to 0.

For the record, just a few years earlier, Marshall finished the 1916 season by outscoring its opponents by 166 points. The 1917 team which finished 1 – 7 – 1 was outscored 345 to 7. That was 506 point turnaround, so clearly the 1919 to 1920 difference, was not a record. You may be wondering how Marshall managed just 7 points, yet got a win and a tie. Marshall started the season with a win over Rio Grande…by forfeit. Later on the Herd tied Morris Harvey 7 – 7. Also of note, this was the year of the infamous 94 to 0 loss to Denison which prevents Marshall's fellow instate school from claiming the largest margin of victory over the Herd.

Stay tuned to Herdhaven.com throughout the long, hot summer for more flashbacks to the past, looks at the future, and interviews with potential prospects.

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