2002 Marshall Thundering Herd football team
The 2002 Marshall Thundering Herd football team represented Marshall University in the 2002 NCAA Division I-A football season. Marshall won its fifth Mid-American Conference (MAC) title in six years and its fifth consecutive bowl game.
|2002 Marshall Thundering Herd football|
MAC East Division champion
GMAC Bowl champion
|2002 record||11–2 (7–1 MAC)|
|Head coach||Bob Pruett (7th season)|
|Offensive coordinator||Mark McHale|
|Defensive coordinator||Bill Wilt|
|Home stadium||Marshall University Stadium|
|2002 Mid-American Conference football standings|
|No. 24 Marshall x$||7||–||1||11||–||2|
|Northern Illinois x||7||–||1||8||–||4|
|Championship: Marshall 49, Toledo 45|
Rankings from AP Poll
|August 31||7:00 PM||No. 2 (1-AA) Appalachian State*||No. 19||ESPN+||W 50–17||31,042|
|September 12||7:45 PM||at No. 11 Virginia Tech*||No. 16||ESPN||L 21–47||65,049|
|September 20||7:00 PM||UCF||ESPN2||W 26–21||32,900|
|October 5||2:00 PM||at Kent State||W 42–21||15,337|
|October 12||4:30 PM||Buffalo||W 66–21||28,200|
|October 19||4:30 PM||Troy State*||ESPN+||W 24–7||27,121|
|October 26||1:00 PM||at Central Michigan||W 23–18||14,564|
|November 2||3:30 PM||at Akron||L 20–34||13,762|
|November 12||8:00 PM||Miami (OH)||ESPN||W 36–34||26,851|
|November 23||3:30 PM||at Ohio||W 24–21||21,110|
|November 30||4:30 PM||Ball State||ESPN2||W 38–14||23,824|
|December 7||2:30 PM||Toledo||ESPN2||W 49–45||24,582|
|December 18||8:00 PM||vs. Louisville*||ESPN2||W 38–15||40,646|
While Stan Hill and his Marshall teammates were celebrating a dramatic win, Miami (Ohio) defensive coordinator John Wauford was being led off the field in handcuffs by state police.
Moments after Hill scored on a 1-yard run with 5 seconds left for a 36-34 victory Tuesday night, Wauford allegedly shoved a Marshall fan and was arrested.
The fan, Robert A. Flaugher of Pickerington, Ohio, hit his head on the artificial turf and was taken on a stretcher to a hospital with a concussion, according to a report filed by State Police in Huntington.
Flaugher was in stable condition at St. Mary's Medical Center, said a nursing supervisor who did not want her name released.
Wauford was charged with battery, a misdemeanor. He was transported to Cabell County Magistrate Court and posted bail. The amount wasn't immediately released.
Miami officials refused to comment on the incident, and did not make players or coaches available to media.
Marshall fans stormed the field after Stan Hill's winning score. Playing in place of the injured Byron Leftwich and making his first career start, Hill also threw four touchdown passes.
"One thing we say around here is that we play for championships, and tonight our kids played their hearts out," said Marshall coach Bob Pruett.
Ben Roethlisberger twice brought Miami back from double-digit deficits, and Luke Clemens' 17-yard TD run gave the RedHawks a 34-29 lead with 6:33 left.
Leftwich, who hurt his left shin against Akron, did not dress for the game. And that left it up to sophomore quarterback Stan Hill.
Marshall got the ball back for the final time with 1:39 left at its 43.
Hill completed three straight passes, then ran 7 yards to the Miami 16.
After a dropped pass in the end zone by Darius Watts - who caught three TD passes from Hill - a pair of interference calls against Miami put the ball at the 1, setting up Hill's run.
"It was either throw it away or get it into the end zone, because coach Bob Pruett told me one thing not to do and that was take a sack," Hill said.
Without Leftwich, Marshall managed 400 total yards. The Thundering Herd began the day leading the nation in total offense with 531 yards.
A month's worth of limping on a sore shin didn't deter Byron Leftwich, and neither did getting flattened by Toledo's David Gardner.
Leftwich got up from the third-quarter hit to throw two late touchdowns, including a 40-yarder to Darius Watts with 49 seconds left, as Marshall beat the Rockets 49-45 in the Mid-American Conference championship game.
Marshall atoned for a loss at Toledo in the 2001 championship game, in which the Rockets overcame a 23-0 deficit to win 41-36.
"Last year, after we lost we all had a sick feeling, Leftwich said. "This year, we couldn't let them come in here and make us feel like that again.
Leftwich completed 32 of 42 passes for 404 yards and four TDs to overshadow the four rushing touchdowns by Toledo redshirt freshman Trinity Dawson, who finished with a career-high 130 yards.
Leftwich hurt his left shin on Nov. 2. against Akron, he showed his toughness as Toledo made good on its promise to blitz him often.
Gardner thought his hit, which came after an interception by Brandon Hefflin, was legal. But it came just after the whistle, prompting a personal-foul penalty and setting off a fight. Marshall lineman Steve Peretta went after Gardner, and Toledo lineman Lantz Jeudy retaliated against Peretta.
Several Toledo players rushed onto the field, and players from both teams exchanged shoves before order was restored. Peretta and Jeudy were ejected.
Gardner compared his hit to that of Tampa Bay's Warren Sapp on Green Bay tackle Chad Clifton earlier that year. The hit ended Clifton's season.
"Once the ball is intercepted, anybody is fair game, he said. "If he (Hefflin) breaks loose, Byron Leftwich is the last one there to make the tackle.
Leftwich became the conference's all-time leading passer with 11,654, surpassing the 11,299 yards set by Tim Lester from 1996-99.
Just like 2001, Toledo fell far behind, trailing 14-0 in the first quarter and 28-10 late in the second.
Again, Toledo came back.
The lead changed six times in the second half.
Dawson's 19-yard run set up Brian Jones' 1-yard plunge with 3:35 left in the game, but Jason Robbins missed the extra point wide right, and Toledo led 45-42.
Marshall got the ball back at its 27 with 3:24 left. Toledo missed a chance to ice the win when Keon Jackson dropped a possible interception.
A few plays later, Patrick Body was called for pass interference with 54 seconds left, giving Marshall a first down at the Rockets 40. On the next play, Leftwich hit Watts at the 10 and he scored untouched.
"It was a great pass. On time. A tight spiral, said Toledo coach Tom Amstutz. "Byron Leftwich is a real special quarterback.
With no timeouts, Toledo drove to the Marshall 39, but Jones' pass was knocked down in the end zone as time ran out.
External link: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=223410276
The game was billed as a showdown between Leftwich and Ragone, two of the nation's best passers. Leftwich, still plagued by shin problems, had the upper hand with his strong right arm, despite giving way to backup Stan Hill for one series in the first half.
Marshall took the lead on an eight-play, 76-yard drive that Leftwich capped with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Denero Marriott, who had 10 catches for 137 yards and a pair of scores.
A 24-yard field goal made it 10-0 and a fumble by Louisville running back Lionel Gates was recovered by defensive back Yancey Satterwhite at the Cardinals 24-yard line. Leftwich took advantage with a nine-yard TD toss to Demetrius Doss to make it 17-0 with just under 10 minutes left before halftime.
Ragone struggled for Louisville, completing 20-of-45 passes for 193 yards, a touchdown and an interception. His lone TD was an 11-yard pass to Tiger Jones with 13 seconds left.
"It was tough," Ragone said. "Give it to Marshall, they gave us some different looks. I just wasn't completing the ball like I wanted to when I had the time."
The Thundering Herd won a bowl game for the fifth straight season. In 2001, Leftwich threw for 576 yards and four TDs as Marshall rallied from a 30-point halftime deficit for a 64-61 double-overtime victory over East Carolina in the GMAC Bowl.
The Cardinals cut their deficit to 17-7 on a three-yard TD run by T.J. Patterson with 5:16 left in the first half. Patterson had just 19 yards rushing as Louisville managed only 56 on the ground.
Louisville got the kickoff to open the second half, but a pair of penalties stalled its drive. Marshall took over at its 46, and Doss had a 13-yard TD catch after a beautiful 24-yard pass from Leftwich to Marriott.
The Thundering Herd used a 10-play, 80-yard drive to start the fourth quarter, taking a 31-7 lead on Marriott's 26-yard TD reception. Leftwich was 5-of-7 for 63 yards on the drive.
A fumble by Ragone was recovered by Marshall defensive end Johnathan Goddard on the Louisville 29. After a penalty moved Marshall closer, Franklin Wallace scored on a 16-yard run for the Herd's final touchdown.
|2002 Marshall Thundering Herd football team roster|
Team players drafted in the NFLEdit
The following players were selected in the 2003 NFL Draft.
|Byron Leftwich||Quarterback||1||7||Jacksonville Jaguars|
|Chris Crocker||Defensive Back||3||84||Cleveland Browns|
|Steve Sciullo||Guard||4||122||Indianapolis Colts|