#7 Goes 'Old School'

KENT, Ohio -- I swear I heard Paul Brown and Blanton Collier cheer here Saturday. When Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich led the Herd on a 13-play, 82-yard drive that consumed 5:43 of the second quarter and culminated in a 1-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown, it was old-fashioned football at its finest.

It was textbook. It was old-school. And the late, great Brown and Collier who fashioned football history in this area while coaching the Cleveland Browns to championships would have adored every yard.

It was their kind of drive.

The irony of it happening here -- of all places -- couldn't have been more poetic if Leftwich had dedicated the drive to Brown and Collier. Which he didn't, of course.

I doubt if Leftwich even realizes who Paul Brown and Blanton Collier were. And that's perfectly understandable.

But that doesn't keep Leftwich from understanding how noteworthy this drive was. Although it was only one of 122 touchdown drives he has led in his Marshall career, there was something special about this one.

"It might have been our most impressive drive of the season," said Leftwich, after Marshall's 42-21 win over Kent State here Saturday.

It was, indeed.

For nearly six minutes, Leftwich mixed six running plays with seven passes to perfection.

First, there was an 18-yard pass to Josh Davis. Then, a 12-yard run by Brandon Carey followed by a carry for no gain.

That left Marshall facing a third-down situation. No problem. Leftwich tossed a pass underneath the coverage to Carey for five yards and a first down.

Next, came four straight passes. The most significant was a jaw-dropping laser throw by Leftwich on third-and-eight that Darius Watts made a spectacular diving catch on for a 21-yard gain and another first down.

Then, Marshall finished off the drive in classic Brown-Collier style. Four straight running plays, including a hard-nosed six-yard gain by Butchie Wallace on third-and-three, got the Herd into the end zone.

It was remarkable.

Perhaps, because it was so atypical for the lightning-striking, quick-scoring Herd offense. In fact, it was only the sixth touchdown drive of Leftwich's career to consume more than five minutes off the clock.

"It helped our defense out," said Leftwich. "It got our defense off the field. And it just showed people that we can do that. We know we can do that. But you're not going to turndown the touchdown, either."

But there's something to be said for systematically chewing up yardage, methodically consuming clock and demoralizing the opponent as it watches helplessly.

Just ask Brown and Collier.

"As you could see," said Leftwich, "Kent was getting everybody back there. So, we nickel-and-dimed them and took what they gave us. If teams are going to play us like that, that's how we're going to play.

"It doesn't matter to us. We're just trying to find a way to win."

Otto Graham and Milt Plum couldn't have put it better.

"I think we did a great job on that drive," said Leftwich. "Five minutes is five minutes. Would I like to have more drives like that? If they score points, yeah.

"It doesn't matter to me. It depends on the situation of the game. I think it's good for the team. It helps everybody out. But if our defense is shutting those guys down, why not score? We've got the momentum."

Maybe so. But for six minutes here Saturday a life-long Cleveland Browns fan could hear the ghosts whispering from the shores of Lake Erie.

It was a scoring drive down memory lane.


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