Herd Beats BGSU, 37-31

32,034 fans tonight got to see the battle for the MAC East lead go to Marshall, as the Thundering Herd beat the Bowling Green Falcons, 37-31. Josh Davis hauled in the go-ahead touchdown pass from Byron Leftwich with just 2:48 left in the fourth quarter.

Marshall got a game and a half from the Falcons, it must be said. Bowling Green came into the matchup undefeated at 3-0, and for once, Marshall was a slight underdog playing at home in Marshall Stadium.

In the first half, the Falcons showed that they do, indeed, belong in the upper-class of the MAC in 2001. The Falcons drew first blood on a Andy Sahm to Robert Redd 7-yard touchdown pass with 6:57 left in the first quarter, capping a 66-yard, 10-play drive down the turf at Marshall Stadium.

Apparently, that lit a fire under Marshall QB Byron Leftwich. Leftwich marched the Marshall offense quickly down the field on the next possession, hitting Darius Watts for the 8-yard TD pass just 88 seconds later, tying the game at seven-apiece.

Leftwich again found Watts with 38 seconds remaining in the first quarter, hitting his favorite WR from 11-yards out on this one, putting Marshall up 13-7 (Curtis Head's point-after went wide right).

The Falcons responded early in the second quarter, with Sean Suisham hitting a 28-yard field goal to make it 13-10, Marshall. Marshall running back Franklin Wallace -out injured most of the year- returned in grand fashion. Wallace capped a 12-play, 74-yard drive with an up-and-over two-yard run into the endzone, extending Marshall's lead to 20-10.

BGSU quarterback Andy Sahm hit Robert Redd on a beautiful (to a BG fan, anyway) 59-yard bomb at the 2:02 mark in the second quarter to close the Marshall gap to only three, at 20-17. A freaky end to the first half found BG's Khary Campbell picking up a Byron Leftwich fumble and scrambling 45 yards for the score with only two seconds left. BG took a 24-20 lead into the lockerrooms at the half.

With 11:44 left in the third quarter, Bowling Green threatened to pull away for good. Falcons WR Kurt Gerling caught a 3-yard Andy Sahm pass that again extended the BG lead to 11, at 31-20. A Curtis Head 41-yard field goal took the edge of BG's earlier score, and closed things up at 23-31, making that earlier missed extra point stand out like a sore thumb if Marshall were to pull off the win.

Marshall running back Franklin Wallace on his 12-yard touchdown catch-and-run in the third quarter.

With 6:54 left in the third, Leftwich found Wallace all alone in the left flat, and Wallace took the 12-yard pass into the endzone to pull Marshall within two points at 31-29. The Marshall defense then took a stand. On second-and-seven, BG quarterback Andy Sahm got to meet the nasty side of MU end Ralph Street. Street came in from nowhere, putting Sahm on the ground for the sack.

Next play, third-and-fifteen, and MU DB Chris Crocker and tackle Orlando Washington shot in untouched, again putting Sahm on the ground for the sack. Facing fourth-and-22, Bowling Green punter Pat Fleming lined up for the punt. A streaking Johnathan Goddard got a hand on Fleming's punt, and Yancey Satterwhite picked up the block.

Momentum: Marshall.

In dramatic fashion, Marshall put the game away with only 2:48 remaining. This time, up-and-coming WR Josh Davis hauled in a Leftwich missile cutting across the middle of the end zone. Darius Watts caught the two-point conversion, and Marshall had the 37-31 lead. However, BG now had the ball, and Sahm began moving the Falcons down the field. Sahm threw six completed passes in the march downfield, with the clock quickly running out.

On third-and-seven from the Marshall 40-yard line, Andy Sahm let loose a deep pass down the left sideline. Marshall DB Yancey Satterwhite went up high and pulled down the interception, sealing the win.

Marshall finished with 421 yards total offense, to the Falcons' 383. Both teams showed their defensive prowess, as BG's Sahm was sacked 4 times, while MU's Leftwich was dropped five times on the night.

Running back Franklin Wallace returned in grand fashion, running for 84 yards on 24 carries, with 1 TD rushing and one receiving. Darius Watts hauled in 8 passes for 198 yards, two TDS; Josh Davis had 9 catches for 92 yards and the game-winning TD; Denero Marriott had 3 catches for 25 yards. Byron Leftwich finished the night with 327 yards passing on 21-of-35 attempts, and 4 touchdown passes.

On defense, Michael 'Kool-Aid' Owens finished with 7 tackles, two for loss, and one sack. Max Yates had five and one-half tackles (three solo), and end Ralph Street added 4 tackles (one for loss) and one sack. The Marshall defense gave up 383 yards to Bowling Green, 119 on the ground and 264 through the air.

Marshall (2-1, 1-0 MAC) now goes on the road the next two weekends, facing MAC West opponent Northern Illinois next Saturday in DeKalb, IL. The following weekend, the Herd ventures to Buffalo to take on the Bulls.

Read all about the Marshall win over Bowling Green in the next issue of Herd Insider, which will be printed and mailed to subscribers this coming Tuesday! In this next issue, we've added more features, more pages (four, now at 24 per issue), and in general, more coverage of the Thundering Herd!

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