Friday, January 02, 2015

44 Years Ago the Marshall Univ Thundering Herd Football Team Was Wiped Out in an Airplane Crash This Year They Almost Went Undeafeated.


On November 14, 1970, a chartered jet carrying most of the Marshall University football team clips a stand of trees and crashes into a hillside just two miles from the Tri-State Airport in Kenova, West Virginia. The team was returning from that day’s game, a 17-14 loss to East Carolina University. Thirty-seven Marshall football players were aboard the plane, along with the team’s coach, its doctors, the university athletic director and 25 team boosters--some of Huntington, West Virginia’s most prominent citizens--who had traveled to North Carolina to cheer on the Thundering Herd. "The whole fabric," a citizen of Huntington wrote later, "the whole heart of the town was aboard."
For Huntington, the plane crash was "like the Kennedy assassination," one citizen remembers. "Everybody knows where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news." The town immediately went into mourning. Shops and government offices closed; businesses on the town’s main street draped their windows in black bunting. The university held a memorial service in the stadium the next day and cancelled Monday’s classes. There were so many funerals that they had to be spread out over several weeks. In perhaps the saddest ceremony of all, six players whose remains couldn’t be identified were buried together in Spring Hill Cemetery, on a hill overlooking their university.

1970 Thundering Herd team & coaches who perished in crash.
Marshall got a new football coach--Jack Lengyel, from the College of Wooster in Ohio--and set about rebuilding the team. The NCAA gave the Thundering Herd special permission to let freshmen play on the varsity squad, and Lengyel cobbled together a ragtag group of first-years, walk-ons and the nine veteran players who hadn’t been on the plane that night. The team lost its first game of the 1971 season but--with a last-second touchdown that seemed almost too good to be true--defeated Ohio’s Xavier University 15-13 in its first home game since the crash. The Herd won one other game that season, and nine in Lengyel’s four-year tenure at Marshall, but none was as emotional as the first.

2014 Marshall Thundering Herd Football Schedule Results:

Current Record: 13-1, 7-1 (C-USA)
Date OpponentTime/TVTickets
Aug. 30
RedHawksat Miami (OH) RedHawks
Yager Stadium, Oxford, OH
Won 42-27---
Sept. 6
RamsRhode Island Rams
Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, WV
Won 48-7---
Sept. 13
BobcatsOhio Bobcats
Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, WV
Won 44-14---
Sept. 20
Zipsat Akron Zips
InfoCision Stadium-Summa Field, Akron, OH
Won 48-17---
Sept. 27
---Open Date------
Oct. 4
Monarchsat Old Dominion Monarchs
Foreman Field, Norfolk, VA
Won 56-14---
Oct. 11
Blue RaidersMiddle Tennessee Blue Raiders (HC)
Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, WV
Won 49-24---
Oct. 18
Golden Panthersat FIU Golden Panthers
FIU Stadium, Miami, FL
Won 45-13---
Oct. 25
OwlsFlorida Atlantic Owls
Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, WV
Won 35-16---
Nov. 1
---Open Date------
Nov. 8
Golden Eaglesat Southern Miss Golden Eagles
M.M. Roberts Stadium, Hattiesburg, MS
Won 63-17---
Nov. 15
OwlsRice Owls
Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, WV
Won 41-14---
Nov. 22
Blazersat UAB Blazers
Legion Field, Birmingham, AL
Won 23-18---
Nov. 28
HilltoppersWestern Kentucky Hilltoppers
Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, WV
Lost 67-66---
2014 C-USA Championship Game
Dec. 6
BulldogsLouisiana Tech Bulldogs
Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, WV
Won 26-23---
2014 Boca Raton Bowl
Dec. 23
HuskiesNorthern Illinois Huskies
FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, FL
Won 52-23---

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