"I'm so proud of these guys," Marshall coach Bob Pruett said afterward. "Everybody wants a piece of the Herd. Nobody wants the Herd to win but Herd fans. You know it, I know it, and everybody knows it. And we keep winning championships."
With the Yager Stadium crowd of 24,286 enjoying a sunshiny day, Miami came out and drew first blood. A Steve Little 15-yard run with 11:01 left in the first quarter did the trick, and put Miami in the early lead at 7-0. Marshall marched 80 yards in 12 plays on the next possession, though, to tie things up when Franklin Wallace ran untouched up the middle on a draw play from 6 yards out with 6:33 remaining.
The Thundering Herd was stopped on their next possession, and Curtis Head booted a 30-yard field goal to give the Herd the 10-7 lead. Marshall would lead the game the rest of the way.
Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich hauls in his 11-yard TD catch in the third quarter, from Brandon Carey
In the second quarter, the first bit of Marshall 'trickeration' reared its head, in the form of Marshall running back Brandon Carey firing a 37-yard touchdown pass to receiver Denero Marriott with 10:01 left. The trick play capped off a 9 play, 91 yard drive, and put Marshall up 17-7. Miami did not score again in the first half.
"They're safety really came down," Marshall coach Bob Pruett described the trick play. "Coach Zaunbrecher hit that halfback pass on me when I was the secondary coach at Ole Miss, and he was the coordinator at LSU. That was back in 1990."
In the third quarter, however, it was the RedHawks who drew first blood. Again, Steve Little took the ball up the middle, and 17 yards later found the endzone on Miami's first possession of the half. Little's score cut the Herd lead to just three, at 17-14.
Ah, but let's not forget that once burned, twice shy. The RedHawks were once again tricked by the Marshal offense midway through the third quarter. After dumping off a short pass to Brandon Carey behind the line of scrimmage, Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich turned receiver. Carey lobbed him a pass high over left end, and Leftwich made the catch and rambled into the endzone for the score.
"He's two-for-two," Pruett laughed when asked about Carey's two TD passes coming while one of the best QBs in the country was on the field, on the same team. "Two touchdowns. He might be leading the nation."
Curtis Head added yet another field goal, this one a 41-yarder with six second left in the third quarter to put Marshall up 27-14. Head was 2-for-2 on a gusty, windy day.
Miami wasn't through, though. The RedHawks brought the game back within six points when Luke Clemens ran in from one yard out with only 5:02 left in the game, bringing the score to 27-21. Marshall then used time-consuming running plays, a penalty, and time outs to run the clock out and seal the win.
Marshall was lead by some solid performances from quarterback Byron Leftwich (28-of-41, 285 yards, no INTs, 1 reception for TD); Franklin Wallace, rushing for 91 yards on 26 carries; Brandon Carey, who passed for two TDs on trick plays; WR Josh Davis, who caught 9 passes for 102 yards; receiver Denero Marriott, with 7 catches for 132 yards, 1TD. The Marshall offense racked up 423 yards total offense.
On defense, it was Max Yates with 5 solo tackles and 4 assists; Ralph Street with 2 sacks of Miami quarterback Ben Roethlisberger; Chris Crocker with one sack; and Yancey Satterwhite with 6 tackles. The Marshall defense held Miami to only 333 total yards.
With the win, Marshall is now 8-1, and in the driver's seat in the MAC East race with a perfect 7-0 record. Miami slips to 7-3 overall and 6-1 in the MAC.
Marshall next faces the Ohio Bobcats next Saturday at Marshall Stadium.