“We are Marshall.” This is more than just a school motto. It extends beyond a mere battle cry. “We Are Marshall” is the spirit and unity of this university. These three words forged a strong bond during the aftermath of the plane crash that took the lives of the 1970 Marshall football team. From this tragic event, the Thundering Herd have rebuilt a program that could have easily vanished, and moreover, it rebuilt the hearts and minds of the Marshall faithful. It’s a story that has inspired the entire athletic world. Walking around campus, evidence of this fateful moment appears in the form of tributes honoring those Sons of Marshall that were lost. It’s a devastating, but significant component of Marshall’s history, and these tributes urge fans to never forget.
Arriving in Huntington, West Virginia for gameday was a welcome sight after driving through an entire landscape of Kentucky nothingness. Homecoming festivities filled the adorable downtown space adjacent to Pullman Square – an area complete with little shops and eateries that somewhat resembled the quaintness of a movie set. The dreary clouds and slow drizzle hardly dented the enthusiasm for another Marshall gameday – especially with the team boasting an undefeated record.
West Virginia football had lost some of it’s spark over the past couple years. Former coach, Rich Rodriguez had lofted expectations in Morgantown and the hope was that new coach and offensive wizard, Dana Holgorsen, would put the Mountaineers back in the spotlight. The Marshall game was his debut and the West Virginia offense opened with a three and out followed by an 87 yard punt return TD by Marshall. It didn’t exactly showcase the fruits of his labor. But highly touted Geno Smith quarterbacked his way back into the hearts of mountaineer fans as he led his team on several scoring drives.
The Badgers clearly did not hear Marshall’s stampede into Camp Randall Stadium. The Thundering Herd charged out to an early 14-0 lead bringing those clad in green to their feet and shouted, “We Are Marshall,” much like the movie portrayed. But, it wouldn’t be long before Wisconsin would remind their guests of where they were and who they were playing.