Sept. 1, 2005
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - The debut of the Mark Snyder era was as exciting as advertised. The Marshall Thundering Herd took a 36-24 home-opening victory over Division I-AA power William & Mary Thursday night at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in front of 25,102 fans.
With the win, Marshall has now won 21 of its last 22 home-opening games and is 30-5 since 1971 in home openers. The win also marked the sixth consecutive time a new Marshall coach has won his season opener.
"It (the win) was great," Snyder said. "Right now as a football coach, I feel like I just played my first football game and got out alive.
"Hopefully tonight or tomorrow, I'll be able to sit back and enjoy it a little bit."
The Snyder era began with a feverish pace. Junior quarterback Jimmy Skinner (Chillicothe, Ohio), making his first career start under center, connected with senior receiver Wilbur Hargrove (Boyton, Va.) for a 66-yard completion down the right sideline for a first down at William & Mary's 12-yard line.
"Well, we won," Snyder said. "That's about it. It was an ugly win. It looked a lot like I thought it might. I hoped it wouldn't, but we have a lot of work to do. You can't take anything away from William & Mary though, they played well. They are a well-coached team and a good team."
Three plays later, Marshall would settle for a 28-yard field goal from Ian O'Connor
(Knoxville, Tenn.) to give the Herd an early 3-0 lead.
However, the lead wouldn't stand for long as William & Mary drove 42 yards into Marshall territory. Greg Kuehn provided the equalizer, a 47-yard field goal with 12:27 remaining in the first quarter.
"We dropped some balls early and we had some special teams mistakes early where we just didn't do our jobs," Snyder added.
Two drives later, Ahmad Bradshaw (Bluefield, Va.) pounded in the first touchdown of the game from five yards out, giving the Herd a 10-3 advantage.
"We're really happy," Bradshaw, who finished with 145 total yards, said. "We congratulated our coach on his first win and we're happy to give it to him. We're happy that we played hard today and came in ready to play."
In the second quarter, Marshall missed an opportunity to add to its lead after O'Connor missed a 52-yard field goal.
On the ensuing possession for William & Mary, senior defensive back Willie Smith (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) intercepted a Michael Potts pass in the end zone.
Two players later, however, Bernie Morris (Orlando, Fla.) turned the ball over to the Tribe, as Kevin Allen intercepted an errant Morris pass.
William & Mary capitalized on the costly Marshall turnover, drawing the game to a 10-10 tie. Potts ran around the right side and made a dive toward the end zone, but Chris Royal (Herndon, Va.) jarred the ball loose forcing the fumble. But, William and Mary's Matt Otey recovered the ball in the end zone to give the Tribe its first touchdown of the game.
Marshall responded on its next possession, driving 80 yards in 1:46 to regain a seven-point lead, 17-10. Morris connected with Bradshaw for a 52-yard touchdown.
As William & Mary had capitalized on a Marshall turnover, the Herd did the same as Floyd Wright (Hayfield, Va.) forced a Trevor McLaurin fumble. The fumble was recovered by Royal, who returned it five yards to the Marshall 29-yard line.
The Herd increased its lead to double digits for the first time in the 2005 season after Morris threw his second touchdown of the night, this time a 25-yarder to Shawn Lauzon (Virginia Beach, Va.). After O'Connor missed the extra point attempt, MU held a 23-10 lead.
Momentum in the second half quickly shifted as the Tribe drove 80 yards in 4:31 to trim the Herd lead to six, 23-17.
After Marshall went three-and-out on its first drive of the second half, William & Mary struck again, this time driving 62 yards in 5:40 to take a 24-23 lead over the Herd.
Potts completed a 19-yard pass to a wide open Tony Viola for the Tribe's second touchdown of the second half.
Fortune would return to the Thundering Herd sideline as Matt Couch (Okeana, Ohio) recovered a Potts fumble and returned it 70 yards for a Herd touchdown.
Morris' two-point attempt failed, giving MU a 29-24 advantage.
In the fourth quarter, Marshall regained a double-digit lead after Morris connected on a 12-yard touchdown pass to Hiram Moore (Huntington, W.Va.), giving the Herd a 36-24 lead.
Morris finished 15-for-25 with 215 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. Skinner added 98 yards on 11-of-17 passing.
Bradshaw led all Herd rushers with 72 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown. He also added 73 yards receiving on six catches with another score.
Hargrove led all receivers with seven catches for a career-high 125 yards. Moore and Lauzon added 56 and 55 yards, respectively.
Curtis Keyes (Mt. Olive, Miss.) led the Herd with 13 tackles, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble. Dennis Thornton (Spotsylvania, Va.) added 11 tackles.
For the Tribe, Elijah Brooks had a game-high 149 yards on 28 carries. Potts was 16-for-30 with 164 yards and two touchdowns and an interception. Josh Rutter led all defenders with 16 tackles, while Jonathan Shaw added 10 tackles.
Marshall returns to action on Saturday, Sept. 10 when it hosts Kansas State in a 10:30 a.m. (EST) kickoff at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN2.