Bernard Morris, possibly the most discussed (and cussed) quarterback at Marshall (3-9, 3-5 in C-USA) in over 30 years, had a career night to top off what has been a career season. He hit 26-of-36 passes for 309 yards and one touchdown, that a 23-yarder to fellow senior Shawn Lauzon near the end of the first half that gave the Herd a three touchdown lead at halftime. Morris also ran for 55 yards on 10 carries and scored the winning touchdown on a one-yard plunge with 1:07 left in the game. He gave the Herd a seven-point edge by finding tight end Cody Slate on the two-point conversion to make the score 46-39.
UAB quarterback Sam Hunt is swarmed by Marshall defenders Ryland Wilson (left) and John Jacobs (right). photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
"It was a good win, but we made it interesting," said head coach Mark Snyder after the win, Marshall's third-straight at home to end the season with wins in three of the final five games. "But Bernie had a career-season and he took us down the field for the win. We made it interesting, but I learned this year that a win is a win is a win." Snyder was speaking about the Herd allowing UAB (2-10, 1-7 C-USA) to rally from a 28-7 halftime hole to score 32 points in the second half and nearly pull out the game.
Behind the two Blazer quarterbacks, Sam Hunt (13-of-24 for 189 yards and one td) and Joseph Webb (11-of-18 for 173 yards and one td), UAB fought back with three second half touchdowns and a Swayze Waters field goal to take the lead at the 5:22 mark on a four-yard run from receiver Rashaud Slaughter for a 39-38 lead, its first lead of the night. Back came Marshall behind Morris, starting at the 22-yard line. He would run for three, hit Slate for ten, then find Emmanuel Spann for 18 yards to near mid-field. Next, Morris found E.J. Wynn (five catches for 37 yards) for 11 more yards, then Slate for six and Spann for back-to-back receptions to move the Herd to the 11.
Marshall's Byron Tinker put pressure on UAB QB Joseph Webb in the second half. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
Darius Marshall rushed for three, and Kelvin Turner for seven to move the ball just inside the one. Morris dove over for the score to retake the lead, and his pass to Slate put the Herd up seven points with just a minute left. UAB would get the ball at the 35-yard line and drove down to the Herd's 25-yard line behind Webb. But four incomplete passes, two at J.J. Johnson, where he rode the receiver out of bounds and two that C.J. Spillman knocked down, set the celebration off for a Herd crowd of 26,762. That gave Marshall a new record for season attendance average at 30,020.
But on senior day, a number of Herd fourth and fifth year players stepped up. Will Albin, starting at middle linebacker for Maurice Kitchens then playing almost the whole game, had nine tackles while tackle Byron Tinker added seven and Ryland Wilson had five, including a tackle for loss. Lauzon caught four for 58 yards and the score, while Marcus Fitzgerald caught two for 47 yards. Tight end Brian Shope caught one for seven yards. Anthony Binswanger hit one field goal for 21 yards, and punted once for a 39.0 average. John Inman and Doug Legursky finished outstanding careers on the offensive line with the 11th and 12th starts of the year, respectively.
Darius Marshall unleashed this 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in The Herd's 46-39 win over the Blazers on Saturday night in Huntington. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
Snyder was very pleased with the leadership his seniors have provided in his first three seasons. "These seniors have been a transition group," said Snyder, "and they have went through a lot. I am very happy for these guys tonight." He was also very pleased with Marshall's 91-yard kickoff return, the only other touchdown scored in the second half for the Thundering Herd besides Morris' plunge. "It was a nice return by Darius. That was something we had worked very hard on this week, and this year. It came at an important part of the game."
The Thundering Herd led 28-7 in the first half, including two touchdown runs by Turner and one by Chubb Small as Marshall rushed for 177 yards and four touchdowns. UAB did drive 65 yards to end the first half, but on second and goal at the one yard line with three seconds left in the half, UAB quarterback Hunt was stuffed at the line of scrimmage by Tinker and Wilson, and the Blazers would go to the locker room down 21 points thanks to the defensive stand.
Byron Tinker took a moment to reflect just moments after Marshall held off UAB in the final seconds of The Herd's 46-39 win in the final game of the 2007 season. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
Morris became the eighth quarterback in MU history to throw for over 3,000 yards in a season, with 3,149 yards, 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, and added to his career rushing numbers as the first Marshall quarterback to rush for over 1,000 yards in their career as he finished with 1,089 yards on the ground. He finishes eighth in passing yards in a career with 5,616 yards through the air. He finishes with total offense of 6,705 yards in his career.