Herd Rallies, Takes 16-13 Overtime Thriller Over SMU

Oct. 1, 2005

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Down 10-0 in the fourth quarter, the Marshall Thundering Herd scored twice in the final seven minutes of regulation and used a Bernie Morris 15-yard touchdown scamper in overtime to take a thrilling 16-13 win over SMU here Saturday night at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

The overtime thriller marked the fifth time in school history that Marshall (2-2, 1-1 C-USA) played an overtime game, with the Herd posting a 5-0 record. It is only the second overtime game for the Herd as a member of Division I-A. The Herd's only other overtime game in I-A came against East Carolina in the 2001 GMAC Bowl - a 64-61 double-overtime win over the Pirates.

SMU (1-4, 0-2 C-USA) dropped its third straight game with the loss and are now 0-2 on the road this season.

Bernie Morris (Orlando, Fla.) led the Herd in rushing and passing, amassing 377 total yards of offense. Morris was 34-of-64 for 314 yards with an interception. Morris' 60 pass attempts are the most by a Marshall quarterback in Joan C. Edwards Stadium history. Morris added 63 rushing yards on 15 attempts with two scores, including the game-winner in overtime.

"He's (Bernie) not running as well as I'd like," Marshall head coach Mark Snyder said. "He needs to get a little more of his shoulder movement into it. I'm not comfortable with him throwing the ball 60 times just yet."

Hiram Moore (Huntington, W.Va.) led all receivers with 107 yards on eight catches. Marcus Fitzgerald (Minneapolis, Minn.) caught eight passes for 69 yards.

"We are going to play every game as they come and just try to get better."

Jerad Romo finished with 151 yards on 10-of-22 passing for the Mustangs. Bobby Chase led SMU with 96 yards receiving on a pair of catches, including a 63-yarder.

"Our defense stepped it up in the second half and we really needed it to carry us over," Snyder added. "We didn't make as many big plays as I would have liked, but we stopped them when we needed it most."

SMU returned the opening kickoff 17 yards and was given excellent field position after a late hit penalty was called on Marshall's Paco Jones (Bluefield, W.Va.).

The Mustangs would drive down to the Marshall 40-yard line, where they went for it on fourth-and-three. Romo attempted a pooch punt that hit an SMU lineman in the back and was recovered by the Mustangs for a 14-yard loss, giving possession back to the Herd.

However, the Herd was unable to take advantage of the good field position, as Marshall went three-and-out in SMU territory.

Bernie Morris celebrates his game-winning TD in overtime to give the Herd a 16-13 win.

Jermaine Filer (Clearwater, Fla.) and John Inman (Knoxville, Tenn.) both made their season debuts for the Herd. Filer caught a four-yard pass from Morris - the first of his career - at the 5:55 mark of the first quarter.

The Herd played its first defensive series without the services of senior free safety Chris Royal (Herndon, Va.) and junior strong safety Curtis Keyes (Mt. Olive, Miss.), who did not start for unspecified reasons. Royal saw his first action of the game at the 8:42 mark of the first quarter, while Keyes did not enter the game until the 9:00 mark of the second quarter.

Marshall had an opportunity to put the first points of the game on the board, but a 26-yard field goal attempt off the foot of kicker Ian O'Connor (Knoxville, Tenn.) at the beginning of the second quarter sailed wide left.

Marshall again relied on O'Connor to put the Herd on the board in the second quarter after Shawn Lauzon (Virginia Beach, Va.) dropped a would-be touchdown in the end zone, setting up a 43-yard kick. But, O'Connor missed his fourth consecutive field goal attempt, keeping the game scoreless.

Late in the second quarter, SMU used an 11-play 69-yard drive in 5:31 to score its first offensive touchdown in nine quarters.

SMU's final drive of the opening half was keyed by a 33-yard pass from Romo to Bobby Chase down to the Marshall 16-yard line. Five plays later, Romo connected with Reynaldo Pellerin for a seven-yard score - the first offensive score for SMU since the first quarter of its 66-8 loss at Texas A&M on Sept. 17.

Marshall, which was held scoreless in the first half for the second consecutive game, out-gained the Mustangs 161-122 on offense in the first half. Morris threw 128 yards on 13-of-22 passing with an interception, while Romo was 7-of-14 with 84 yards and a touchdown.

SMU would use another 69-yard drive - this time on eight plays - to increase its lead to 10-0 in the third quarter. The Mustangs used up 2:40 on the clock, capped off by a 34-yard field goal by Chris McMurtray.

With 12:20 remaining in regulation, Marshall would begin its rally from the 10-point deficit. The Herd drove 69 yards on 15 plays in 5:36, sparked by Morris, who went 6-for-9 with 58 yards. O'Connor nailed a 24-yard field goal at the 6:44 mark to trim the SMU lead to 10-3.

On the ensuing SMU possession, Marshall's defense stopped the Mustangs, forcing SMU to punt after three plays (losing nine yards).

With just 4:08 left in the fourth quarter, Marshall drove 59 yards on nine plays in 2:38, capped off by the first of Morris' two rushing touchdowns of the night - a four-yard run to the right to tie the game at 10-10 to force overtime.

In overtime, SMU struck first on a 40-yard field goal by Chris McMurtray, giving the Mustangs a 13-10 lead.

Marshall, however, did not quit as the Herd relied on the legs of Morris, who scampered 15 yards around the left side, diving over the goal line to give the Herd the 16-13 come-from-behind overtime win.