November 14, 1970 ... Remembered
Memorial of the 1970 Marshall University Football Team Plane Crash
Controversial Call Ends Chances For Tie
East Carolina Nips Herd 17-14
(Editor's Note: Mike Brown, who covered Saturday's ill-fated Marshall – East Carolina game, was not aboard the plane that took the Thundering Herd and its traveling party to their death. He motored to Greenville, site of the game, with his wife.)
By Mike Brown, Herald-Advertiser Sports Writer
Huntington Herald-Advertiser, Novmeber 15, 1970
(Used with permission)
GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina University place kicker Tony Gurso kicked a 24-yard field goal with 12:27 left and that proved to be the difference as the Pirates shaded Marshall University, 17-24 [sic.14], Saturday afternoon before a turnout of 8,711 at Ficklen Stadium, including ex-Marshall great John Zontini.
Zontini, who was recently inducted in the West Virginia Sports Writers Hall of Fame, was seeing his alma mater play for the first time since his graduation in 1935.
Marshall, which has had its share of tough breaks this season, saw another come its way with 30 seconds remaining in the contest when quarterback Ted Shoebridge was called for intentional grounding, a call which left the Thundering Herd and its small group of fans puzzled.
The controversial call all but ended Marshall's hopes for gaining at least a tie on a day in which it turned in what coach Rich Tolley felt was a sub-par performance.
Shoebridge, who didn't get into the game until the second half, had driven the Herd 63 yards in less than one minute and was knocking on the door when the call came.
On a third and 10 at the ECU 25, Shoebridge faded to pass and was collared by the Pirates Jim Gudger at the East Carolina 44. Shoebridge got off the pass but was called for grounding the ball which carried a five-yard penalty from the spot of the call.
The pass was intended for halfback Art Harris who fielded it on the bounce.
"The ball only hit above five feet from me," explained Harris who shared everyone else's puzzlement about the call.
With any hopes of a game-tying field goal by Marcelo Lajterman now snuffed out, Shoebridge threw a futile fourth-down pass deep down field and it fell incomplete, giving the Pirates the football with only 11 seconds left.
"We had a nice flight down, but we played like we were still flying," said Tolley, who expressed displeasure with the Herd's overall play.
"We had a number of opportunities to win it," he continued, "but we couldn't capitalize."
"Our offensive execution was not as good as it has been and defensively, we just gave up too many yards on the ground. It appeared to me as though East Carolina wanted it more than we did."
East Carolina, which didn't throw a single pass in the second half, ground out 302 yards rushing with 178 of it coming in the second half.
Les Strayhorn picked up 142 yards on 28 carries and Billy Wallace added 132 on 27. Joe Hood was Marshall's leading rusher as he picked up 111 yards on 23 carries.
Quarterback John Casazza added 16 yards for the Pirates, getting six of them on a touchdown run in the second period.
The performance by the East Carolina running backs overshadowed fine defensive performances by Marshall linebacker Jerry Stainback and defensive guard Larry Brown. Stainback was in on 22 tackles, nine of them unassisted, and Brown was in on 18, seven unassisted.
The bright spot offensively for Marshall was Shoebridge who completed 14 of 32 passes for 188 yards in his best showing of the year. He had a touchdown pass of 16 yards to Jack Repasy in the third period.
Bob Harris, who was used only as a receiver in the second half, caught four passes for 86 yards and teamed up with Shoebridge to keep the Herd in contention.
The Pirates got excellent field position in the second period when Mike Mills covered Hood's fumble. Casazza scored his first touchdown of the season when he rolled around right end with 12:04 left in the half.
Marshall forged a 7-7 halftime tie on an electrifying 81-yard interception return by Stu Cottrell, second longest in school history, with 1:19 left in the half.
East Carolina, following a 45-yard field goal attempt by Lajterman which fell short, drove from its own 20 to the Marshall 22 where it had a first down.
Casazza, who had completed four straight passes on the drive, attempted to pass to the right sideline. MU defensive end Dave Griffith batted the ball right back into the startled Casazza's hands and he instinctively threw the ball again. Cottrell picked the ball up in the flat and zipped down the sidelines.
Hood fumbled on the ECU 48 with Chuck Zadnik falling on the football, setting up ECU's second TD. The Pirates, aided by a face-masking call on Larry Sanders, scored in seven plays with Wallace going in from the one.
After an exchange of punts, Shoebridge moved the Herd 76 yards in only seven plays, hitting Repasy for the score with six minutes left in the third period, tying it at 14-14.
The big play in the drive came when Shoebridge hit Bob Harris for 48 yards on third and 21 from the Marshall 13. Harris took the ball on the MU 45 and carried it to the Pirates 41.
Hood got it on a halfback draw, Shoebridge and Bob Harris teamed for 12 and another first down at the 19. Shoebridge then hit Repasy in the middle of the end zone with a perfectly thrown pass.
EC – Casazza 6 run (Guzzo kick)
M – Cottrell 81 pass int. (Lajterman kick)
EC – Wallace 1 run (Guzzo kick)
M – Repasy 19 pass from Shoebridge (Lajterman kick)
EC – Guzzo 24 field goal
Att. – 8,711
Marshall; Hood 23-111, A. Harris 8-30, B. Harris 2-5, Shoebridge 4-(-12).
East Carolina: Stryhorn 28-142, Wallace 27-132, Casazza 6-16.
Marshall: Shoebridge 14-32-1 for 188 yards and 1 touchdown, B. Harris 3-9-1 for 22 yards.
East Carloina: Casazza 5-14-2 for 49 yards.
Marshall: Hood 5-55; B. Harris 4-86, A. Harris 3-16, Repasy 2-33 and 1 touchdown, Young 2-14, Gilmore 1-6,
East Carolina: Croisetiera 2-19, Wallace 1-16, Gordon 1-10, Gianniean 1-4.
Marshall: Stainback 9-13, L. Brown 7-11, Shannon 5-7, Reese 2-9, Sanders 7-3, Cottrell 6-2, T. Borwn 6-2, Griffith 4-4, VanHorn 4-2.
East Carolina: Rothrock 2-10, Mills 6-5, Britton 7-3, Peeler 6-3, Zadnick 4-5.