Monday, November 28, 2011

Hokies, Herd are forever linked by night of 11.14.70

       The night of November 14, 1970 forged a permanent connection between Virginia Tech and Marshall University. Two of the coaches who died in the fatal plane crash that decimated most of MU’s football team – Rick Tolley and Frank Loria – played their college ball at V-Tech.
       Tolley, the Thundering Herd’s head coach in ’70, played center and linebacker for the Hokies from 1958-61. Loria, a star safety (1965-67) and the school’s first consensus All-American, was instrumental in leading Virginia Tech to a berth in the 1966 Liberty Bowl. He came to MU as the defensive backs coach in ‘69. Loria also played in the same secondary as Virginia Tech’s legendary coach Frank Beamer.
       Earlier this season, Virginia Tech played an away game at Marshall and cruised to a 30-10 victory. On the day of that game, Beamer paid a visit to the Marshall University Memorial at Spring Hill Cemetery in Huntington, West Virginia. Beamer placed a 3x5 Hokie Stone at the memorial site to pay homage to the 75 crash victims.
       Tech's players wore special stickers on the back of their helmets for the VT-MU contest. The round stickers bore the initials “RT” and “FL” in recognition of Tolley and Loria, along with the number 75, which represents the number of people who perished.

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