Oct. 29, 2005
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MOBILE, Ala. -
Four years ago, Ladd-Peebles Stadium was the site of arguably the greatest comeback in Marshall football history. Saturday night, the Thundering Herd pulled off another thriller, coming back from a 20-7 halftime deficit to take a 27-26 win over the Tulane Green Wave.
The victory snapped a five-game regular season road losing streak dating back to last season for the Thundering Herd (4-4, 3-2 C-USA). Tulane (2-5, 1-4 C-USA), playing in its seventh different stadium this season, lost its fourth consecutive game.
Sophomore quarterback Bernie Morris (Orlando, Fla./Jones) finished with 73 yards of total offense in the game's final 18 minutes. Marcus Fitzgerald (Minneapolis, Minn./Academy of Holy Angels) led all receivers with 60 yards on six receptions. Hiram Moore (Huntington, W.Va./Huntington) added 49 yards on five catches.
Ahmad Bradshaw (Bluefield, Va./Graham) finished with 91 yards on the ground on 24 carries and a touchdown.
It was a streak that began at the 8:51 mark of the first quarter of Marshall's game against Kansas State on Sept. 10. At the 10:55 mark of the first quarter against the Green Wave, the Thundering Herd drove 35 yards on six plays in 2:55 to snap its 85:54 first quarter scoreless streak.
Marshall starting quarterback Jimmy Skinner (Chillicothe, Ohio/Chillicothe) connected with senior tight end Jeff Mullins (Gallipolis, Ohio/Gallia Academy) for a 16-yard touchdown strike over the middle, giving the Herd an early 7-0 lead.
The touchdown pass from Skinner was the Herd's first first-quarter touchdown in Conference USA play. It also marked Skinner's first touchdown pass since the Herd's 23-13 loss at UCF on Sept. 24.
However, Tulane wouldn't trail for long as the Green Wave scored 20 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a 20-7 lead over the Herd.
On the first play of the second quarter, Skinner's pass was intercepted by Tulane's Bruce Youmans and returned 51 yards for a touchdown, evening the score at 7-7.
The interception return for a touchdown was the first by a Marshall opponent since Nov. 13, 2004, when Bowling Green's Keon Newson returned an interception 42 yards for a score.
Five minutes later, Tulane would increase its lead to 13-7. Lester Ricard connected with Preston Brown on a 34-yard touchdown pass at the 9:08 mark of the second mark. Chris Hawkins (Kinston, N.C./Kinston) blocked Jacob Hartgroves point after attempt.
Israel Route's 48-yard punt return setup a six-play, 23-yard scoring drive that lasted 2:41, giving the Wave a 20-7 lead. Jovon Jackson scored on a two-yard touchdown run with 4:52 remaining in the first half to take the 13-point advantage.
Tulane's 20 points in the second quarter are the most the Herd has surrendered to an opponent this season. Virginia Tech scored 20 points on the Herd in the third quarter on Oct. 8 in Blacksburg, Va.
Tulane out-gained the Herd 163-97 in the first half. Skinner was 9-of-20 for 73 yards with a touchdown and a pair of interceptions. Ricard was 4-of-8 for 71 yards with a touchdown for the Green Wave.
The Green Wave held Bradshaw in check, holding the Herd's rushing leader to just 14 yards on the ground.
Marshall's luck seemed to have changed in the second half, as Chubb Small (Auburndale, Fla./Auburndale) returned Barrett Pepper's opening kickoff of the half 92 yards for a touchdown, trimming the lead to 20-14.
It was the first kickoff return for a touchdown by the Herd since Sept. 11, 1999, when James Williams returned a kick 93 yards for a score against Liberty.
Tulane, however, increased its lead back to double digits. Boger nabbed his second interception of the game and returned it 66 yards for a touchdown at the 2:11 mark of the third quarter. Hawkins broke up Ricard's intended pass for Preston Brown on the Wave' two-point attempt, holding Tulane's lead to 26-14.
Morris relieved Skinner late in the third quarter after Skinner's third interception of the evening.
Behind Morris, the Herd would cut the Wave's lead to five, 26-21, after Morris ran in from three yards out with 8:38 remaining in regulation for his fourth rushing touchdown of the season.
An interception by Willie Smith (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer) gave the ball back to the Herd with 6:51 left in the fourth quarter.
From there, Marshall used a 10-play, 79-yard drive in 4:41 to take a deciding one-point lead over Tulane. With 2:10 left in the fourth quarter, Marshall completed its comeback on Bradshaw's three-yard touchdown sweep around left side. Morris' two-point run attempt off right guard failed, as the Herd held a 27-26 lead.