Sunday, November 11, 2001

Marshall 27, Miami 21


3rd down ruins RedHawks

By Ian Duthie
Enquirer contributor

[img]
Ben Roethlisberger is tackled by Marshall's Johathan Goddard.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
        OXFORD — Down 27-21 with less than five minutes to play, the Miami RedHawks still felt they had Marshall right where they wanted it.

        Despite Marshall being four-time defending Mid-American Conference Champion, Miami had visions of upsetting the Thundering Herd and winning the MAC's Eastern Division.

        Miami's offense had just scored on an 18-play, 95-yard drive that spanned 7:29 and left its defense rested for one final stand. With one timeout left, the defense needed a quick stop to give the RedHawks offense a final shot. After a first down, the defense stopped running back Franklin Wallace for no gain and forced an incomplete pass by quarterback Byron Leftwich, leaving Marshall with third-and-10.

        But like many times before, on Saturday, third-and-long was no trouble for Marshall. The Thundering Herd picked up the first down on a defensive holding call by Miami's Ryan Sprague and claimed the 27-21 victory.

        Marshall converted 10 of 17 third downs in the game.

        Miami's defense was able to control Marshall's high-powered offense on first and second downs but had no answer for Marshall on third down.

        “Byron is so good at recognizing the defense's blitzes,” said Miami's Gino DiGiandomenico. “He is hard to keep down for a whole series. He always finds his (open) receiver.”

        After the Sprague penalty, which resulted in an automatic first-down, the defense stopped Marshall on the first two downs only to see Leftwich hit tight end Gregg Kellett over the middle for 9 yards on third-and-6 with 1:10 left, ending Miami's hopes of getting the ball back. Marshall then ran out the clock and deprived Miami its first outright MAC championship since 1986.

        “I really thought we were going to get the ball back,” Miami quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “I have no doubt we would have run our two-minute drill and got a score to win 28-27. We couldn't stop them when we had to most.”

        Instead, Marshall (8-1, 7-0 MAC) earned the right to represent the East in the conference championship Nov.30, remaining the only East team to do so since the MAC turned into two divisions in 1997.

        Miami's (7-3, 6-1 MAC) seven-game winning streak ended and the loss was the fourth straight to Marshall.

        “(Marshall) is a championship team,” coach Terry Hoeppner said. “I think we are on our way to being one, but we weren't ready to take it away today.”

        Things started well for Hoeppner and company when Miami forced a three-and-out on the game's open drive. The RedHawks then drove the ball down the field and scored on a 15-yard touchdown run by Steve Little for a 7-0 lead.

        Marshall took the momentum, scoring 17 points on its next three possessions.

        The RedHawks held Leftwich without a TD pass for the first time in 15 games.

Team   1 2 3 4     SCORE
Marshall   10 7 10 0     27
Miami-Ohio   7 0 7 7     21
Scoring Summary
1st QuarterMiami Touchdown - 15-yard run by Steve Little.
(Jared Parseghian kick). 11:01 remaining.
Marshall Touchdown - 6-yard run by Franklin Wallace.
(Curtis Head kick). 6:33 remaining.
Marshall Field Goal - 30-yarder by Curtis Head. 1:59 remaining.
2nd QuarterMarshall Touchdown - 37-yard pass from Brandon Carey to Denero
Marriott. (Curtis Head kick). 10:01 remaining.
3rd QuarterMiami Touchdown - 17-yard run by Steve Little.
(Jared Parseghian kick). 13:31 remaining.
Marshall Touchdown - 11-yard pass from Brandon Carey to Byron
Leftwich. (Curtis Head kick). 8:51 remaining.
Marshall Field Goal - 41-yarder by Curtis Head. 0:06 remaining.
4th QuarterMiami Touchdown - 1-yard run by Luke Clemens.
(Jared Parseghian kick). 5:02 remaining.
Attendance: 24,286
Final Team StatisticsMarshall Miami-Ohio
First downs 2818
Rushes-yards 37-9031-123
Passing yards 333210
Return yards 212
Passing (Att-Comp-Int) 43-30-029-16-0
Punts-Average 3-47.76-46.3
Fumbles-Lost 2-10-0
Penalties-Yards 4-247-40
Time of Possession 35:2124:39
Rushing
Marshall - Wallace 26-91, Carey 2-5, Buggs 3-2, Team 3-(-4), Leftwich 3-(-4).
Miami-Ohio - Little 13-65, Hawk 2-26, Clemens 6-25, Roethlisberger 10-7.
Passing
Marshall - Leftwich 28-41-0, 285 yards. Carey 2-2-0, 48 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Miami-Ohio - Roethlisberger 16-29-0, 210 yards.
Receiving
Marshall - Davis 9-102, Watts 8-44, Marriott 7-132, Kellett 3-31, Wallace 2-13, Leftwich 1-11.
Miami-Ohio - Branch 4-40, Little 3-13, Tillitz 2-47, Larkin 2-24, Frazier 1-50, Henry 1-21, Brandt 1-13, Stegman 1-4, Murray Jr 1-(-2).



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