"It's a shame we lost and a tough pill to swallow," said Marshall coach Mark Snyder. "I thought we played well enough to win."
Marshall receiver Hiram Moore went up high for this catch over Kansas State defender Maurice Porter.
Snyder's team did just that in both halves, really. The first half saw Marshall (1-1) put 10 points on the board quickly in the first quarter, and the second half was a shut-out of the K-State (2-0) offense by Marshall's defense.
The largest crowd in Marshall history —36,914 officially— endured the early 10:30am start time for the national broadcast on ESPN2.
Marshall came out firing in the first quarter. Kicker Ian O'Connor ended Marshall's first drive with a 44-yard field goal with 9:42 left to begin the scoring. After recovering a K-State fumble, quarterback Bernie Morris led The Herd on a quick two-play, 11-yard scoring drive that ended with Ahmad Bradshaw's 6-yard TD run just 51 seconds after O'Connor's field goal. The result was an early 10-0 lead for MU.
Last week, we didn't run as much," said MU back Ahmad Bradshaw. "We decided to come in this week and run the ball, and we were pretty successful at it."
A record crowd of 36,914 filled Edwards Stadium at Marshall University for the Kansas State game on ESPN2.
Kansas State — the only Big 12 Conference team to ever play in Huntington— eventually got moving, primarily on the ground. Junior running back Thomas Clayton broke free for a 38-yard TD run with 5:46 left in the first quarter to cut into the Marshall lead, 10-7. KSU's Jordy Nelson hauled in a 23-yard pass from QB Allen Webb with :17 left in the quarter to give the Wildcats the 14-10 lead.
Using their customary ground attack, K-State moved the ball down field early in the second quarter and Clayton took a 26-yard pass from Webb with 11:16 left in the half for a 21-10 lead.
However, Kansas State would not score again.
Albert McClellan put pressure on Kansas State quarterback Allen Webb.
The half would end in rather bizarre fashion for Marshall. Geremy Rodamer picked KSU QB Webb and returned it 45 yards with 7:25 left. Ian O'Connor converted the turnover into a 21-yard field goal with 5:13 left in the first half to bring Marshall within eight points at 21-13. The Herd began a drive with 2:45 left and was moving downfield quickly with Morris at QB. In a twist of identity, Morris the QB (Bernie) completed a pass over the middle to Morris the tight end (Matt), who took the catch to the two yard line. KSU's Marcus Watts stripped Morris of the ball as he was leaning toward the end zone.
On first-and-15 at the Marshall 43 yard line just a minute later, Marshall QB Bernie Morris took a stinging shot to his upper body, and left the game. Jimmy Skinner would take command from this point. Kansas State held onto their 21-13 lead at the half.
"I felt bad for Bernie going down," Skinner said. "I knew I had to keep the offense rolling, try to get a rhythm going out there."
"We didn't miss a beat with Jimmy coming in the game," Marshall coach Mark Snyder said. "When you have two quarterbacks to play, you must be a pretty good football team."
Snyder adjusted the MU defense at the half, and the result in the third and fourth quarter was a shutout of K-State. KSU was held to only 29 rush yards in the third quarter. MU's Bradshaw added his second TD of the day on a one-yard run with 14:12 left in the game. Marshall's two-point conversion failed, and KSU held the slim 21-19 lead.
In the end, both K-State and Marshall had scoring chances late in the fourth quarter. Both teams would turn over the ball while positioning for a final field goal; KSU for a potential five-point lead and Marshall for a game-winner. Neither succeeded.
Ahmad Bradshaw edged the ball over the goal line for the first of his two TDs against Kansas State.
Kansas State was the first to trip up late in the game. Facing third-and-goal with just :59 left, KSU QB Webb looked to set up the game-sealing field goal. Webb fired a pass to Jermaine Moreira, and Marshall's Chris Terrell forced the fumble. Juan Underwood recovered, and suddenly, Marshall had one last chance to win the game.
"We never stopped playing," said MU back Ahmad Bradshaw.
QB Jimmy Skinner moved The Herd effortlessly downfield, going from the 24 yard line to the KSU 21 yard line in just six plays. The highlight was a 32-yard pass to Wilbur Hargrove with little more than 10 seconds left. Looking to position kicker Ian O'Connor in the middle of the field for a game-winning field goal, coach Mark Snyder called a simple running play.
"We wanted to center the ball up and call a timeout," MU coach Mark Snyder said. "We just needed to have poise and patience."However, confusion led to miscommunication, and Skinner failed to receive the play call. Skinner was forced to call his own play with time ticking down.
Former Marshall coach Bob Pruett was honored during the Kansas State game, and was presented a plaque by West Virginia Governer Joe Manchin (right).
"There was a lot of pandemonium on the sideline and Jimmy had some confusion on the play," MU coach Mark Snyder confessed. "It's a rookie head coach mistake."
"I shouldn't have panicked like that," Jimmy Skinner said. "It was just confusion."
"It surprised me that they went for one more play but I'm in no position to second guess anyone," said Kansas State coach Bill Snyder. "I'm sure they had a good idea about what they wanted to do. It just didn't work for them... fortunately for us."
"If I ever do it again, I will call a timeout and kick it on third down," said MU coach Mark Snyder.
Skinner finished the game with 15-of-25 passing for 189 yards. The Marshall offense racked up 334 yards in the game, while K-State managed only a slightly better 336 yards. KSU's Clayton rushed for 152 yards, while Ahmad Bradshaw led the way for Marshall with 58 rush yards.
In the end, Marshall and Kansas State ended up playing a close game on national television, albeit early in the morning. The game literally came down to the last series of downs for both teams, and Marshall made the last mistake.
MU coach Snyder could only shake his head in the post-game press conference.
"It's just a hard lesson to learn."