|Herd running back Terry Gardner|
Marshall University’s first home football game of the ’71 season was a game for the ages. Here are a few reasons why.
- The Thundering Herd beat Xavier of Ohio 15-13 in the most dramatic fashion—on the very last play of the game. The final gun had already sounded when Reggie Oliver threw a screen pass to Terry Gardner, who raced to the end zone untouched for the 13-yard game-winning touchdown.
- The ’70 plane crash wiped out most of the varsity team. To help MU field a team for ’71, the NCAA granted Marshall a special exemption which allowed freshmen to play varsity ball. The young Herd, comprised primarily of freshmen and sophomores, defeated an Xavier team whose roster had a good number of upperclassmen. Given those circumstances, Marshall’s victory was unprecedented
- The game-winning touchdown is acknowledged as one of the most memorable in the annals of NCAA football. ESPN ranks the Marshall miracle on its list of the Top 100 Plays in College Football (No. 83).