It all added up to a perfect afternoon of Marshall football for all in attendance, including Chad Pennington of the New York Jets, Randy Moss of the Oakland Raiders and John Wade of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were all members of what was the greatest of all I-AA teams in 1996, outscoring their opponents by an average of 44-14 per game and winning all 15 games (and losing none) by two or more touchdowns. Also in attendance at the game were the "We Are Marshall" director (McG) and producer (Basil Iwanyk), as well as Matthew McConaughey, who will star in the movie as Jack Lengyel, the coach of the 1971 Young Thundering Herd. McConaughey, who attended numerous Herd spring drills during the three-week shoot in the Huntington area, received a game ball from Head Coach Mark Snyder at the end of the contest. Fans also won prizes to the pro games of Moss, Pennington and Wade, as well as a trip and role in the shooting of the Marshall movie, provided by Warner Bros., as filming now moves to Atlanta, Georgia for the football action from Marshall's 1970 and 1971 seasons.
Bernie Morris dove in the end zone for a TD in the second half of the Green-White game. photos by Greg Perry/HI staff
The football action on the field for the Green-White Game was hard-hitting and exciting, from an sensational 38-yard run by pre-season All-Conference USA candidate Ahmad Bradshaw for the Green team, to the 7-for-9 passing of White team quarterback Bernard Morris, who threw for 94 yards and ran for a touchdown. Morris led the White on a 12-play, 72-yard scoring drive to open the second half, taking the ball in the final two yards on a picture-perfect 10 minute, 53 second drive to put the White up 10-0. "We just wanted to come out of the locker room and get off to a fast start," said Morris, "like the coaches are always preaching to us. I just had to forget about that first half fumble I had and get back after it." Morris was happy to be on the winning side Saturday, but knew it was more about the big picture when reflecting on spring practice. "Spring went pretty well," said Morris after the game. "Jimmy and I are battling for the No. 1 spot (at quarterback), but that will not be decided until August. He's in my corner, just like I'm in his and we pull for each other," said Morris of senior quarterback Jimmy Skinner, who hit 6-of-10 passes for 56 yards for the White team.
Receiver Robert Surratt (15) hauled in one of his many catches in the second half of the Green-White game.
Morris also was looking forward to the opener at West Virginia on September 2, as the Herd and Mountaineers meet for the first time since 1997. "It will be tough at West Virginia. They don't like us and we don't like them. It should be a very tough place to play." His running mate on the White team, sophomore Chubb Small, was a bit more vocal about the WVU game, after leading all rushers with 55 yards on the day. "We're going to crush them!" said Small after the game. Small also caught two passes for 11 yards and ran back a kickoff for 14 yards in his best scrimmmage of the spring. "There's a lot of pressure being behind Ahmad," said Small. "I just felt I had to play as hard as I could today. The spring ended pretty well." Also having a big rushing day for the White team was sophomore Gerwin Williams. Williams scored the final touchdown of the game to set the score at 17-0 and had 11 carries for 53 yards in the contest.
We Are Marshall movie director McG kicked field goals at halftime, donating money with each successful kick. McG ended up donating $20,000 to Marshall as the result of his kicking.
The White team got on the board first when junior college kicker Anthony Binswanger hit a 24-yard field goal to give the White a 3-0 lead. Binswanger was also 2-for-2 on extra-points and had two kickoffs into the endzone. Senior Ian O'Connor did not fare so well, missing from 42 yards (wide right) and from 37 yards (short), although it appeared there may have been a problem with the hold of red-shirt freshman Wesley Beardain. It was that kind of a day for the Green team, however. Starter Derek Devine was just 5-for-20 passing for 65 yards and one interception and was sacked on the opening play of the game by Curtis Keyes for a 12-yard loss. Devine threw the interception on his final attempt of the day, when James Johnson tipped his seventh pass-broken-up of the day to linebacker Brandon Souder in the end zone for the take-away. Beardain hit on 4-of-10 passes for the green for 66 yards, including one pretty 40-yard pass to junior wide out Shawn Lauzon, who led the Green with four catches for 82 yards.
The outstanding receiver of the day, with NFL star wide outs Moss and Troy Brown of the New England Patriots on hand to watch their alma mater, was Robert Surratt. The son of former MU head coach Sonny Randle recruit Robert Surratt caught six passes for 98 yards, including a "circus catch" on the 72-yard drive for a score by the White. Surratt jumped up and took away an interception from Green cornerback Chuck Roberts, making a 16-yard gain down to the four-yard line. The White scored the first TD three plays later on Morris' run. Emanuel Spann caught two passes for 20 yards for the White, while tight end Joe Bragg had three catches for 22 yards and Uranius Johnson caught two for 27 yards for the Green.
Running back Ahmad Bradshaw streaked down the sideline, in front of the White team bench, in the first half.
Defensively, Matt Couch led the Green with 10 tackles and a five-yard loss on a sack, and C.J. Spillman had eight tackles. Also on the Green, Travis Noel had seven stops and John Jacobs and Roberts each recorded six tackles. Jon Moravec had four tackles and recovered a fumble for the Green. For the White, Souder had two tackles, both for losses, and the interception. Shavar Greer, Albert McClellan and Keyes each had a quarterback sack and Greer also forced a fumble, recovered by Peter Graziani, a transfer from Northeastern University. Johnson added three tackles to his seven passes-broken-up. Defensive end Ryland Wilson also knocked down a pass for the White, as did defensive tackle Blake Merritt for the Green.
Chad Pennington, Randy Moss, and McG rallied the fans at halftime to the tune of the cheer "We Are…Marshall". Behind the trio is Matthew McConaughey, star of the upcoming Warner Bros movie.
NOTES: Mahala Wiggins, a red-shirt freshman linebacker from New York, was "Mr. Irrelevant," the last player selected in the draft by the Green team on Wednesday, but he did record a tackle in the game...Not only did the Warner Bros. crew shoot film from sites in the stadium and via hand-held cameras, a helicopter circled the field and shot throughout the second half...the West Lot filled up in less than two hours for the tailgating...Warner Bros. purchased 5,000 tickets to the game for extras who had participated in the shooting the last three weeks in Huntington...for the first time ever, there was a pre-sale of over 2,000 tickets for the game...McG kicked field goals at halftime, donating $1,000 per kick made to Marshall. He hit 4-for-4, from 20-yards away to 35-yards away, finally missing on three attempts from 40. His final donation to Marshall was $20,000...If each of the official 17,346 people who attended the game (and some press box observers thought the crowd was nearer to 20,000) paid their $5 to get in, the MU Quarterback Club stood to make over $86,000. Then there were the 250 West Lot tailgate spots at $10 each, another $2,500, so close to $90,000 was raised to help the MU football program...Both "The Dawg," featuring the Tri-State's best country at 93.7 FM and "The Planet," the Real Rock station at 92.7 FM, had remotes from 1-4 p.m. Then, our broadcast on WRVC 930 AM went on the air from 3 p.m. until the end of the game (and post-game), about 7 p.m., giving Kindred Communications company 10 hours of broadcasting from the Green-White Game. That total does not include the time to work on the Herd Insider or the public address job by Kindred's head honcho, Mike Kirtner, during the game. The things we do for MU!
Green: Bradshaw 10-41; Paco Jones 1-(-1); Beardain 1-(-3); Devine 1-(-12); Total 13-25.
White: Small 13-55; G. Williams 11-53, TD; Morris 3-2, TD; Skinner 3-(-10); Total 30-100.
Green: Devine 20-5-1, 65 yards; Beardain 10-4-0, 66 yards; Total 30-9-1, 131 yards.
White: Morris 9-7-0, 94 yards; Skinner 10-6-0, 56 yards; Total 19-13-0, 156 yards.
Green: Lauzon 4-82; Bragg 3-22; U. Johnson 2-27.
White: Surratt 6-98; Spann 2-20; Small 2-11; G. Williams 2-12; Matt Parkhurst 1-9.
Green: 1/0 (Beardain). White: 2/2 (Morris and Skinner).
Green: David Defatta 2-90 (45.0). White: O'Connor 1-37 (In 20); Marty Biagi 2-66 (33.0).
Kick Off Returns
Green: Jermaine Filer 1-45; Bradshaw 1-21; Ian Hoskins 1-12; Total 3-78 (26.0). White: Small 1-14.
Green: 7-60. White: 10-90.
Green: O'Connor 0-2 FG (42, 37). White: Binswanger 1-1 (24).
Green: Couch 10 TKL, QBS (-5); Spillman 8 TKL; Noel 7 TKL; Roberts 6 TKL; Jacobs 6 TKL; Moravec 4 TKL, FR; McClellan 3 TKL, QBS (-8); Jeremy Frazie 3 TKL; Adrian Davis 2 TKL; Merritt TKL, PBU, QBP; Greer TKL, QBS (-4), FF; Graziani QBP, FR; Phillip Gamble TKL; Mahala Wiggins TKL; Ian Hoskins TKL, QBP; Bilal El-Amin TKL.
White: Johnson 3 TKL, 7 PBU; Souder 2 TKL, 2 TFL (-6), INT; Thorton 2 TKL, QBP; John Saunders 2 TKL, TFL (-2); Zerrick Mathews 2 TKL; Keyes TKL, QBS (-12), QBP; Maurice Kitchen TKL; Jeff Bush TLK, TFL (-3), QBP; Ivan Clark TKL; Daniel Wells TKL; Geremy Rodamer TKL; Matt Altobello FR.
TKL-tackle; TFL-tackle for loss; PBU-passes broken up; INT-interception; FF-forced fumble; FR-fumble recovery; QBS-quarterback sack; QBP-quarterback pressure.