Dandy Dozen Of Great Finishes At Marshall

Marshall University has played recorded football since 1895. Up to today, it gives us the a dozen decades of football for the Thundering Herd up to 2007. The Herd has a record of 508-476-47 in all games 1895-2006, but Herd Insider has choosen the "Dandy Dozen" of all-time great finishes in Marshall history, starting with a recent game at No. 12 all-time.

12) Miami at Marshall, November 12, 2002: Quarterback Byron Leftwich had cracked the bone in his leg the previous week at Akron and the Herd would have to turn to sophomore QB Stan Hill for an important East Division game with the Miami, Ohio RedHawks. The Herd had beaten Miami four-straight times since 1998, but with the loss to Akron Marshall could not afford to drop another divisional game if MU wanted to reach the Mid-American Conference title game. A 17-17 halftime score gave way to a 29-27 Herd lead at the end of the third quarter. Miami got a 17-yard touchdown from Luke Clemes with 6:33 to play and Hill, who had already had four touchdown passes in the game, would now face the biggest moment in his young career.
The Herd was first stopped, however, with 2:28 to play when Marshall came up short on fourth-and-one. The MU defense, however, arose to the occasion and sent Miami and QB Ben Roethlisberger three-and-out to give Hill and the offense the ball back at the Marshall 43-yard line. In five plays, the Herd had driven deep into Miami territory when Hill lofted a pass toward Darius Watts in the end zone. Clearly held by the Miami defender, Marshall fans roared their approval when the yellow flag hit the ground. With the ball at the one-yard line and 10 seconds to play, Hill rolled left on a run-pass option and scooted into the end zone for a 36-34 win. An arrest of Joh Wauford, a Miami assistant, after the game for accosting a Herd fan, just added to the lore of the game in which Hill was 39-25-2, 292 yards and four touchdowns passing, plus 12/33 rushing and the winning score. Roethlisberger was held to under 50 percent passing with a 33-16-1 night for 247 yards and three touchdowns for Miami.
The Herd would not lose again, finishing 11-2, 8-1 in the MAC and stomping Louisville in the GMAC Bowl, 38-15, behind the return of Leftwich in the Ohio game following Miami. But Hill would be the hero on that cool night at the then-Marshall University Stadium.

11) Miami at Marshall, September 11, 1976: The Herd had been out of the MAC since 1968 for football, but Miami remained a thorn in the side of Marshall fans. The Herd had not beaten the Redskins since 1939, losing 11 in a row back to a 14-14 tie in 1963, and was 0-19-1 since those three wins by Cam Henderson over Miami in 1937-38-39 when both were in the Buckeye Conference. Miami had beaten the 1971 Young Thundering Herd 66-6 and, in Frank Ellwood's first season in 1975, had shutout the Herd 50-0 on the way to the third Tangerine Bowl in a row.
On this day, things looked like they always did against Miami. Despite sitting at 1-0 in the record book, thanks to Morehead State having to forfeit an opening win over the Herd the week before for using an ineligible player, the 'Skins jumped out to a field goal and a touchdown to go up 9-0, then something changed. Linebacker Gary Patrick blocked the extra-point and old "Mo" changed to the Herd's side of Fairfield Stadium for once against Miami, who was ranked 20th in the nation.
Back came the Herd, thanks to two Herman "Bud" Nelson touchdowns to Ray Crisp and Marshall led at half, 14-9. Fans were uneasy, however, having seen what Miami could do, and usually did do, to the Herd. The defense, however, forced three fumbles in the game including Ed McTaggert covering up a ball that led to the halftime lead. Miami had a season low in first downs (14), total yards (just 279) and fewest rushes and yards (27/166).
Mike Bailey stretched out the Marshall lead to 21-9 in the third and Herd fans were ready to race onto the field late in the game, after Miami running back Rob Carpenter - who would have 120 yards on the day and play for both the New York Giants and Houston Oilers - was ejected from the game in the fourth quarter for arguing with the ref. With the Redskins trying to run another play with time winding down, the quarterback fumbled the snap on the final play and fans began to flood the field led by the Herd's men's swimming team, who worked concessions at every game.
A Miami lineman picked up the ball and picked his way, ala' Cal versus Stanford years later, through the crowd of well-lubricated fans and boosters for a 28-yard fumble return for touchdown. An extra-point was awarded to Miami without a kick as the Herd celebrated a 21-16 win over the hated Redskins. The AP had to have the score sent three times on the ticker before they were sure it was not a mis-print. MU went on to a 5-6 season, best in the era 1965-1983 of 18 losing seasons in a row.

10) Marshall at South Carolina, September 19, 1998:The Herd was in its second-season of Division I-A football and had gotten off with a bang in 1997, winning the MAC, advancing to the Motor City Bowl - first bowl since the Tangerine Bowl back on Jan. 1, 1948 - and even losing to Ole Miss of the Southeastern Conference was not too much of a downer for the former I-AA power. The season had included a loss to West Virginia, 42-31, and a win at Army and a 7-1 mark in the MAC.
The SEC was up for the Herd again with a trip to play the Gamecocks in game three of '98 for the 2-0 Herd. Marshall was 0-10 versus the SEC all-time, but Chad Pennington looked to change that quickly with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Lanier Washington, his second-ever catch at MU and second TD. South Carolina led 10-7 at the half however, and could have been up 13-7 if USC had not missed a field goal from 30-yards away with six second left in the first half.
Tight end Brad Hammon, a former rodeo rider from Utah, caught his second-ever catch and second TD of his career to give MU a 14-10 lead, then Doug Chapman scored on a "fumble rooskie" from seven-yards away, the COMPAC College FB Play of the Week, and the Herd was up 21-10. Back came the Cocks, hitting for a touchdown and a two-point conversion at the 11:38 mark of the fourth quarter, then nailing a 36-yard field goal with 3:44 to play to knock the game at 21-21.
Marshall then turned the ball over on downs on the next series, but to the rescue came Danny "Lucky Charms" Derricott, who picked off an ill-advised pass with 1:10 to play. Given a second-chance, Pennington drove the Herd to the 20-yard line with just seconds on the clock and on came Hurricane's Bill Malshevich. His 37-yard field goal was a no doubt version and Herd fans in Columbia and watching on TV throughout the Tri-State celebrated a 24-21 win by the Herd. Marshall went on to win the MAC again and beat up on Louisville in the Motor City Bowl, 48-29. Coach Brad Scott would lose his job and end up the next season as the offensive coordinator at Clemson.

9) Marshall at Clemson, September 4, 1999: The Herd would open up the 1999 season in "Death Valley," better known as Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C. New Head Coach Tommy Bowden had a Tiger team that had finished 3-8 in 1998 but was expected to be much better this season, while the Herd was loaded with 19 starters and 60 letter winners back for Bob Pruett's fourth season. Watching the Tigers run down the hill and touch McGuire's Rock seemed to have little effect on the Herd as Billy Malashevich quieted the crowd with a 24-yard and 22-yard field goals to give MU a 6-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Clemson would answer with a second quarter field goal and the Herd led 6-3 at half. Both teams were shutout in the third quarter and, shocking most of the 80,250 in attendance, Marshall led into the fourth quarter 6-3. Clemson finally got rolling with a drive for touchdown, when running back Javis Austin scored from three-yards out for a 10-6 lead with 7:13 to play. The teams traded possesions and the Herd had one more shot, taking the kickoff at MU's 24-yard line and and about seven minutes to play.
As he had done so many times before, Chad Pennington led the Herd down the field, but the ACC officials - who had cost the Herd an upset at N.C. State in 1991 - seemed to be on the job again as flag after flag flew in the Herd's direction. While the final drive was officially 11 plays and 76 yards, it was closer to 14 plays and well over 100 yards, due to calls against Marshall. A Pennington 12-yard scramble on third-and-ten would set up Doug Chapman, who came to the sidelines for an IV to battle cramps, to fly around the left end with 1:10 to play and scored from seven yards out to give the Herd a 13-10 lead that the defense, who allowed just 3.1 yards per rush for the Tigers in the game, would protect for an unlikely opening win at Clemson for Marshall. John Grace led the defense with 18 tackles and two sacks and helped the Herd D to force seven Clemson punts.
Pennington hit 29-of-44 for 333 yards (6-of-6 in the final drive), while Chapman gained only 40 other yards on the day, but it was enough to kick start a season that saw MU go 13-0 and finish No. 10 in the nation in the final AP and USA Today polls.

8) Marshall at Western Carolina, October 25, 1980:Marshall entered the Southern Conference in 1977 and had lost every game played in the SC since. 0-5 in 1977 and 1978, 0-6 in 1979 and were 0-3 so far in 1980 under second-year head coach Sonny Randle, who had won back-to-back SC titles with East Carolina in 1971 and 1972. The Herd had scored just 20 points in three SC games so far, but had started 2-0 with wins over Morehead State and Kent State at Fairfield Stadium to open year and was 2-4 and headed to Cullowhee, N.C. for a matchup with Western Carolina.
MU, WCU and UT-Chattanooga all joined the league in '77, but Western had been competing for a title and UTC had won a couple. Wesstern had beaten Marshall 41-26, 21-14 and 24-0 in 1979 in Huntington, but were in route to a three-win season this season under long-time head coach Bob Waters. Still, the Herd might be the medicine to turnaround a tough year.
Barry Childers put the Herd on the board first, as the freshman made his eighth field goal in seven games with a 38-yard kick and a 3-0 first quarter lead. QB Tony Konopka ran in from 25-yards out in the second quarter, and Marshall was feeling good about a 10-0 halftime lead. Back came the Catamounts, however, with a third and fourth quarter touchdown on the ground and with 5:28 to play the Herd was once again staring defeat No. 20 in SC play right in the eyes.
In front of a crowd of 11,850 that was starting to head home from a cold, windy, rainy day at E.J. Whitmire Stadium, back came the Herd as the defense would hold WCU after a MU punt and the offense would drive to the Western 42-yard line with ten seconds to play. Incredibly, Randle sent in Childers for a field goal attempt, but the 'Cats were expecting a fake and "Hail Mary" to the end zone. After Randle took a timeout to talk with "The Squirrel," as Randle referred to Childers, MU lined up for a 59-yard field goal into the wind and rain. As punter/linebacker Terry Echols would recall later, "It sounded like the crack of a shotgun when Barry hit that ball." Western, who only sent a token rush, could only turn and watch as the ball split the uprights and gave the Herd a 13-13 tie with seven seconds to play.
Randle said later he had asked his kicker why he put the field goal tee at the 50-yard line, instead of the 49, Childers told the coach he always wanted to try a 60-yard field goal. It set a MU record and a NCAA record for freshmen as it was from 59, but the Herd would finish 2-9. Late in 1981, the "monkey" came off MU's back when the Herd held on for a 17-10 win at Appy State after going 0-26-1 in the SC up to then.

7) New Hampshire at Marshall, September 7, 1991:The Herd was opening a new stadium at third Avenue and 20th Street after dropping the opening game at Appy State, 3-9. Second-year head coach Jim Donnan's first Herd had gone 6-5, but this night was special as MU moved from Fairfield Stadium (1928-1990) to Marshall University Stadium. The opening game was against the New Hampshire Wildcats, whose president was Dr. Dale Nitzschke, and he had led Marshall throughout the 1980s.

A sellout crowd of 33,116, 5,000 over capacity and bigger than the WVU crowd in Morgantown earlier in the day, packed the new stadium that still had an under-construction facility building in the north end zone. Both teams dressed at Gullickson Hall and walked through the fans to the facility, then sat in the shell of a building with construction lights, port-a-toliets and folding chairs for both teams and the officials at halftime.
The Herd jumped out to a 10-0 first quarter lead, behind a Dewey Klein field goal and a 75-yard score from QB Michael Payton to WR Brian Dowler, son of former Green Bay Packer great Boyd Dowler. Back came UNH, reeling off 17 points before Glenn Pedro ran in a touchdown from one-yard out for a 17-17 halftime tie.
Troy Brown would catch the first touchdown of his great MU career when Payton hit him with a 46-yard score and a 24-17 Herd lead. The Marshall defense would allow New Hampshire to pile up 411 total yards, but kept the Wildcats out of the end zone until there was just 1:42 to play. UNH Qb Matt Griffin thrw his first touchdown of the day, but New Hampshire missed on the two-point conversion and trailed 24-23. UNH would recover an on-sides kick and the Herd fans were on the edge of their seats until defensive back Charlie McGregor knocked away a fourth-down pass from Griffin to save the opener for the Herd. The team did a victory lap around the stadium, high-fiving the fans leaning over the wall for the historic victory. Marshall would end the season 11-4, suffer the loss of center J.D. Coffman in the middle of a season - dying from a airborne virus - and advance to the I-AA title game for the first time since 1987. MU fell to Youngstown State in Statesboro, Ga., 25-17, in the game but the title games would move to Huntington for 1992-1996.

Games 1-6 coming Friday.

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