Herd Returns Home To Face Bulls
For the first time during the 2002 season, the Marshall Thundering Herd will play on consecutive Saturday?s when the Bulls of the University at Buffalo pay a visit to Marshall Stadium. It will be the second game in a five-week stretch for the Herd through the month of October.
The Herd is coming off another stellar offensive performance in a 42-21 victory over Kent State last week. Marshall rolled up 645 yards of total offense against the Golden Flashes, including a season-high 268 yards rushing. It was the most rushing yards in a game for the Herd since posting 264 yards on the ground against Kent State last year.
The headliner in the game for Marshall was junior running back Franklin Wallace, who piled up 149 yards on only 15 carries. He got the Herd off to a great start with a 69 yard run on the first offensive play of the game after a muffed return on the opening kickoff left Marshall inside its own one yard line. The play was the spark of a four-play, 99-yard, touchdown drive, all on the ground.
While the ground game continued to show improvement -- senior Brandon Carey followed his strong performance against UCF with 89 yards on 18 carries -- the Marshall passing attack continued to put up amazing numbers while not operating a peak efficiency..
Senior quarterback Byron Leftwich completed 31 of 45 passes for 377 yards and two touchdowns despite having no fewer than seven passes dropped, including two that were deflected to Kent State defenders for interceptions. Leftwich also rushed for a touchdown in the game.
The Herd offense was very uncharacteristic in its use of the game clock. Coming into the game, Leftwich had led just five touchdown drives in his career, out of 118 total TD drives, that used more than five minutes off the game clock. The senior guided two such drives against the Golden Flashes, including a fourth quarter clock-eating 6:15 drive to seal the victory. Only twice in his career had Leftwich led longer scoring drives -- a 7:09 drive against Northern Illinois and a 6:55 drive against Buffalo, both in 2001.
While the long drives were uncharacteristic in nature, Leftwich continued his steady march up the career charts at Marshall, in the Mid-American Conference and in the NCAA record book. With his effort against Kent State, Leftwich now stands second at Marshall in career pass attempts, completions and touchdowns passes -- trailing New York Jets starting quarterback Chad Pennington on all three lists -- and should surpass Michael Payton for second in career passing yards (needs 185 yards) and total offense (needs 276 yards) this week.
Leftwich is also now in the top five in four of five major offensive categories in MAC history.
In the NCAA record book Leftwich is within a couple of games of the all-time Division I-A top 20 in total offense (currently 31st) and passing yards (currently 32nd). His 70 career touchdown throws is tied for 26th all-time in Division I-A. With a career quarterback rating of 148.47, Leftwich stands 15th on the all-time NCAA leaderboard.
Leftwich will attempt to add to those numbers against a Buffalo defense he has feasted on in past meetings. In two games against the Bulls Leftwich has completed 62 of 85 passes (72.9%) for 833 yards and five touchdowns.
In addition to the on-field excitement of the game with Buffalo, there will be plenty of excitement outside of Marshall Stadium on game day. It will be NASCAR Day at Marshall Stadium, with several of the top race teams bringing their cars to the stadium for fans to see. In addition there will be a NASCAR simulator and plenty of race souvenir available for fans to purchase.
Fans will also get a close look at a true Olympic hero when gold medal winning wrestler Rulon Gardner leads 100 Harley-Davidson Motorcycles onto the field in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Harley-Davidson as well as to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Garner defeated Russian Aleksandr Karelin in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Garner was the first person to defeat Karelin in 13 years and the first the score a single point on the Russian legend in 10 years.
Garner, the 100 Harleys and all of the NASCAR displays will be available for fans to enjoy on the football practice field prior to the game. Only fans with tickets to the game will be allowed into the practice field area.
The game between the Herd and Bulls will be available on television, but only via the ESPN pay-per-view package GamePlan.