Wednesday, November 9, 2011

O happy day ... Marshall finally stops the streak

        It’s late October in 1969 and the monkey is riding heavy on Marshall’s back. With another loss, the Thundering Herd will set a record for the nation’s longest winless streak. Nobody wants to see MU go down in football infamy.
Ted Shoebridge threw for 202 yards vs. Falcons.

       The odds for Marshall ending a 27-game winless streak were not favorable. The Herd would be revved up for its Homecoming game, but it’s doubtful that anyone believed the home team had any chance to upset Bowling Green, a team it hadn’t beaten since the mid-1950s. It didn’t help matters that the Falcons were 27-point favorites and prime contenders in the Mid-American Conference.
       The conditions at Fairfield Stadium were far from ideal. It had rained on and off on the morning of the game. The field was a muddy mess and it would only get worse as the game progressed. Nevertheless, the two teams went at it and the surprising Herd more than held its own.
       Quarterback Ted Shoebridge skillfully guided the Marshall on three scoring drives, which included touchdown tosses to Dickie Carter and Jack Repasy. Kevin Gilmore scored the game-winner on a one-yard plunge.
       Trailing by 15 points in the fourth quarter, Bowling Green responded with an impressive drive to trim Marshall’s lead to 21-14. On their next possession, the Falcons put together another long drive. But this time the Herd’s defense put BG’s offense on lock-down. Cornerback Larry Sanders intercepted a pass at the 5-yard line to squash the Falcons threat and end all hopes for a stirring comeback.
       Marshall then took a safety and the Falcons got the ball back on a free kick. BG had three chances to reach the end zone, but the Herd prevailed to earn a miraculous win in the mud as the rain-drenched crowd swarmed the field after the final gun sounded to end the game.
       Final score: Marshall 21, Bowling Green 16.
       Shoebridge didn’t throw a lot in these swampy conditions, but he was effective enough. He connected on 8 of 16 throws for 202 yards.
       While the offense delivered what was needed, it was the play of the defense provided the final margin of victory. The Herd gave up a whopping 415 yards, but compensated by forcing five fumbles to go with a pair of drive-killing interceptions. Defensive line Mike Bankston finished with 15 tackles, three recovered fumbles and one forced fumble.
       This victory proved to be a sign of better things to come for the remainder of the ’69 season. During that stretch, Marshall won three of its last four games and outscored opponents 120-79.

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