Sunday, January 22, 2012
1971: "Supreme sacrifice for the impossible dream"
I doubt if anybody would’ve been shocked if Marshall had gone winless in ’71—the season right after the plane crash. The Young Thundering Herd gave a much-better-than-expected accounting of itself with an eyebrow-raising 2-8 won-loss record.
In a season where not a whole lot went right very often, Marshall was able to generate some excitement with heart-stopping victories over Xavier University and Bowling Green State University. The Xavier game stands out the most because it was a last-play-of-the-game touchdown that gave the Herd the 15-13 victory.
But upon further review, the 12-10 win over Bowling Green on MU’s Homecoming Day was even more impressive. The Falcons were prime contenders in the Mid-American Conference that year and viewed as one of the favorites to win the MAC and earn a trip to the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, Florida.
Other than that, the Herd suffered its share of whippings, which included a 66-6 beat-down defeat at the hands of Miami of Ohio.
Coach Jack Lengyel put the season in its proper perspective in an article he wrote for the 1972 Chief Justice yearbook. Here are some excerpts from that article.
“It was not just a football season, it went deeper than that,” Lengyel wrote. “Football is just a game. But the things which make it up are what make it great. IT was all of us playing … we all had a share in it. This team asked no quarter, but was willing to make the supreme sacrifice for the impossible dream.”