Thundering Herd vanquish RedHawks, avoid 0-4 start
Sept. 29, 2004
SportsLine.com wire reports
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Stan Hill and Jonathan Goddard wouldn't let Marshall slip to its worst start in 35 years.
Hill, playing with elbow tendinitis and a strained thumb on his throwing hand, threw three touchdown passes and Marshall held off a late rally to beat Miami, Ohio 33-25 Wednesday night.
Marshall (1-3, 1-0 Mid-American Conference) avoided its first 0-4 start since 1969 with the help of its defense. The Thundering Herd sacked Josh Betts six times and converted three turnovers into points.
Goddard had four sacks, recovered a fumble and forced another.
"He changed their whole game because they couldn't block him," Marshall coach Bob Pruett said. "Jonathan was whipping their right tackle pretty good."
Miami (2-3, 1-1) lost to Marshall for the sixth time in seven meetings, the exception a 45-6 home win last year.
Hill sat out that game, missing the second half of the season with a knee injury.
On Wednesday, he beat Miami for the second time in Huntington.
Hill had first-quarter scoring passes of 27 yards to Brad Bates and 16 yards to Josh Davis. He also had a 6-yarder to Bates midway through the third quarter to put Marshall ahead 26-14.
Hill, who finished 23-of-37 for 184 yards, said having a week off after a 13-3 loss at No. 3 Georgia helped his body recover.
"My arm felt a lot better," Hill said. "My body was able to heal."
Betts, the league's top passer, continued an up-and-down season as the heir to Ben Roethlisberger, now the Pittsburgh Steelers' starting quarterback.
Betts, 14-of-23 for 144 yards, was without his favorite target, Martin Nance, who left the game with a leg injury on Miami's second series and did not return.
Betts was intercepted twice and fumbled three times, losing two.
"How can you expect to win a game like that?" Betts said. "I take responsibility for four of those. I need to step up and do something."
He almost did, nearly bringing Miami back from a 33-14 deficit.
Betts scored on a 1-yard run midway through the fourth quarter and threw for a 2-point conversion to Ryan Busing to make it 33-25.
Joey Card intercepted Hill on the next play from scrimmage and returned it 26 yards to the Marshall 16. But Mike Smith couldn't handle Betts' pitch and the ball went through the end zone for a touchback.
"(I've been) catching balls since the age of 6," Smith said. "Took my eye off of it, looked upfield, dropped it. I take the loss squarely on my shoulders."
Betts got another chance with 3 minutes left, marching Miami to the Marshall 33. Jamus Martin sacked Betts on third down and Betts threw an incompletion to end the threat.
"We haven't had this feeling in a while," Pruett said. "We had it, almost let it slip away, and were able to get it back."
Goddard pressured Betts into turnovers on Miami's first two series and Marshall jumped ahead 10-0.
Marshall had held Troy and No. 7 Ohio State under 100 yards rushing, but Miami racked up 100 yards in the first quarter to take a 14-10 lead.
The RedHawks did little on the ground the rest of the game.
"Once we adjusted to that little trap play they were running, they couldn't run the ball," Pruett said.
The Associated Press News Service
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