Leftwich Shines As Herd Downs Ball State
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) _ Byron Leftwich threw for 401 yards to become the Mid-American Conference's career offense leader as Marshall defeated Ball State 38-14 Saturday.
Marshall (9-2, 7-1 MAC) heads into the league championship game at home next Saturday, against either Toledo or Northern Illinois. A Toledo loss to Bowling Green on Saturday night would give Northern Illinois the West Division title.
Marshall already has accepted an invitation to the Dec. 18 GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Ala., against a team from Conference USA.
After Marshall wrapped up the East Division title last week, Thundering Herd coach Bob Pruett's goal against Ball State (6-6, 4-4) was to get Leftwich some consideration for the Heisman Trophy.
Leftwich went 35-for-42 and had his fourth 400-yard game this season. He has 11,408 career yards of total offense, surpassing the 11,081 set by Western Michigan's Tim Lester from 1996-99.
Leftwich has thrown for 3,615 yards and 22 TDs this season.
Using mostly screen passes, Leftwich threw for 319 yards to nine different receivers in the first half, despite limping on a sore left shin he injured on Nov. 2. He still completed 13 straight passes in snow and gusty winds and threw TDs of 4 yards to Jason Rader and 16 yards to Darius Watts, helping Marshall jump to a 24-7 halftime lead.
Leftwich led Marshall down the field on its first two drives of the second half before being relieved by Stan Hill each time inside the Ball State 10.
Hill scored on a 7-yard run and threw a 3-yard TD pass to Watts midway through the third quarter for a 38-7 lead.
Leftwich sat out the rest of the game.
Marshall's Denero Marriott caught 10 passes for 129 yards and Josh Davis had eight for 128 yards.
Ball State's Marcus Merriweather was held to 87 yards rushing, his second-lowest total of the season. He finished as Ball State's career rushing leader with 4,002 yards.
It was Marshall's first home game since Nov. 12, when Miami of Ohio defensive coordinator Jon Wauford was charged with battery for pushing a Herd fan after Marshall's last-second win.
With Saturday's easy victory, the frigid weather and a crowd of just 23,824, few fans ventured onto the field after the game.