"We had a chance. They made their kick and we missed ours," was Marshall coach Bob Pruett's summation of coming oh-so-close to knocking off a top 10 ten for the second year in a row (Marshall beat then-number 6 Kansas State in September, 2003).
And it wasn't supposed to be that close. The trouble is, nobody on the Marshall team listened the pre-game Ohio State hype over the airwaves. Instead, Marshall brought a ground attack in the second half that enabled the Thundering Herd to all but run over the Buckeyes late in the game, forcing the last-play heroics by Nugent.
Ohio State kicker Mike Nugent hit this 55-yard field goal on the game's last play to give OSU a slim 24-21 win over Marshall.
Ohio State took a 21-14 lead at the halftime, but in the second half Marshall used the 1-2 combo of Ahmad Bradshaw and Earl Charles to run right at the Buckeyes. The Herd embarked on a 17-play, 83-yard drive late in the third quarter that ended on a botched fake field goal attempt.
"A lot of it was done at the line," added Pruett of Marshall's effective rushing in the second half. "We played better this week than we did last week. And we'll play better next week than we did this week."
Defensive back Chris Royal got the ball back for Marshall twice late in the game via interceptions of OSU QB Justin Zwick. Royal's first interception put The Herd at the OSU 13- yard line, and just three plays later Marshall QB Stan Hill hit senior receiver Brad Bates on a slant pass to the left side. Bates angled for the goal line and barely got the ball across it for the game-tying touchdown at 21-21, and silencing the 95,000 plus OSU fans.
Royal picked yet another Zwick pass on the ensuing possession. Marshall kicker Ian O'Connor missed a 35-yard field goal with just 3:17 left in the game, setting up OSU's last-minute drive and field goal for the win.
"I just read his (Zwick's) shoulders, and broke on the ball," Royal said of the second pick of the OSU quarterback.
"That's a long kick," Pruett said of Nugent's game-winner that sent the Ohio Stadium crowd into a frenzy. "That's the reason he (Nugent) is an all-American."
Marshall receiver Brad Bates tied the game on this 23-yard catch-and-run from QB Stan Hill with 8:40 left in the game.
In the battle of the quarterbacks, OSU's Zwick emerged the winner over Marshall's Stan Hill, with Zwick completing 18 passes for 318 yards, 3 TDs. Hill lit up the OSU defense to the tune of 22 passes for 140 yards and the lone TD to Bates.
Despite giving up multiple sacks in last week's 17-15 loss to Troy, the Marshall offensive line only let the OSU defense get to QB Hill just three times, a marked improvement.
Marshall's running attack ran roughshod over the Buckeye defense, and it was primarily freshman that did the most damage. Ahmad Bradshaw gained most of his 77 yards on 17 carries in the third and fourth quarters, while teammate Earl Charles picked up 72 yards on 18 carries. Marshall ran for 150 yards against Ohio State, for a per-run average of 3.4 yards.
Emmanuel Spann led the Marshall receiving corps with 7 catches for 39 yards, while Josh Davis caught 5 for 34 yards, and Bates catching only three for 29 yards (with one being the game-tying TD catch-and-go).
Despite the last-second game-winning field goal by OSU's Nugent, Marshall coach Bob Pruett put the entire game in proper perspective.
"We came up here thinking we could win, and we just came up a little short," summed up Pruett.