Marshall Wins Fifth MAC Title, 49-45, Over Toledo

Marshall won its fifth MAC Championship in six years on Saturday night, beating the Toledo Rockets 49-45 when Darius Watts hauled in a 40-yard TD pass from Byron Leftwich with only :40 remaining.

The matchup was the fourth such in the six years since Marshall re-joined the MAC in 1997. The Herd holds a 2-1 advantage with the win on Saturday night.

"What a game. Both teams played their hearts out," said Marshall coach Bob Pruett of the shootout. "It's a shame that someone loses when two teams play as hard as they did today."

Marshall held Toledo scoreless in the first quarter, running out to a 14-0 lead courtesy of Denero Marriott's 12 yard TD catch on the Herd's opening drive, coupled with Franklin Wallace's 1-yard TD run at the 3:57 mark. MU took a 28-10 lead at halftime, aided by the scores of Brandon Carey (9-yard run) and Duran Smith's 36-yard return of a Brian Jones fumble with 3:02 left in the half.

In a four-picture sequence, Marshall's Duran Smith picks up the fumble caused by Charlie Tynes' hit of UT QB Brian Jones, and runs it back for the touchdown.Photos by Greg Perry/HI staff

Toledo's Astin Martin scored on a 1-yard run with just 11 seconds before the half.

In the second half, Marshall's potent offense exploded for another 21 points. However, Toledo would take the lead for the first time in the third quarter, when Trinity Dawson punched the ball in the end zone from two yards out with 4:08 left in the quarter to put the Rockets ahead 39-35.

"We kept things moving," said Toledo coach Tom Amstutz of the Rockets' offensive resurgence. "We mixed the run and pass up.".

Marshall's Darius Watts -somewhat silenced up until this point- put Marshall back in the lead at 42-39 when he made an athletic, spinning catch of a 16-yard Leftwich pass in the endzone with 7:51 left in the game. Toledo went on an 11-play, 67-yard drive on the ensuing possession, that ended with QB Brian Jones running in the TD from one yard out with 3:35 left.

That score put Toledo back out in front, 45-42.

Marshall running back Brandon Carey dives over the goal line on his 9-yard TD run in the second quarter.

Marshall's Leftwich then took the reins, moving the Herd 73 yards in only 6 plays and 2:46. On first-and-ten from the 40 yard line, Leftwich connected with Darius Watts on the game-winning touchdown pass. Curtis Head's extra point kept the margin at four, forcing UT to score with only :49 remaining.

"It was a great pass. On time, perfect pass, great spiral," Toledo coach Tom Amstutz complimented of Leftwich's pass to Watts. "I wish I could can it up and take it home."

"They were trying to double Watts with the linebacker, and you ain't going to run with him with a linebacker," Leftwich added of the game-winning pass to Watts.

Yancey Satterwhite knocked down UT QB Brian Jones' last-second hail mary pass to seal the win for Marshall.

Denero Marriott got the scoring started with this 12-yard TD pass from Byron Leftwich in the first quarter against Toledo.

"We couldn't let anybody come up to the 'Green Mile' and beat us," Byron Leftwich summed up afterward. "For the game to end the way it did, I'm just happy to be a part of it."

"This is a great day for the Herd," summed up Marshall coach Bob Pruett of his team's fifth MAC Championship since 1997. "All of our guys played their hearts out. This is a complete team win."

Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich threw for 404 yards and 4 TDs in the win. Receivers Darius Watts (9-135, 2 TDs), Denero Marriott (7-87, 2 TDs), and Josh Davis (6-99) led the way for Marshall.

Toledo and Marshall rang up eerily similar numbers on offense, with the Herd (450 yards) slightly edging the Rockets (438 yards).

On defense, Marshall was led by Yancey Satterwhite (13 tackles, 2 pass deflections), Charlie Tynes (12 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble, and 1 sack), and Terence Tarpley (12 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss) in the win over Toledo.

Marshall moves up to 10-2 overall, 8-1 in MAC play, with their fifth MACC crown. The Rockets fall to 9-4 overall and 7-2 in the MAC. Marshall now prepares to face C-USA's Louisville Cardinals in the GMAC Bowl on December 18 in Mobile, Alabama. Toledo has accepted the bid to the Motor City Bowl in Detroit Michigan against a to-be-named opponent.

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