Football

Herd Goes Inside For First Time For Green-White Scrimmage

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HUNTINGTON — If you can’t beat it, avoid it. Sure beats saying rain, rain, go away.

He may not even like old sayings, but Doc Holliday, the head coach of the Marshall football program, decided early on Saturday to avoid the rain that has plagued past Thundering Herd Green-White Games and scrimmages since he took the helm of the program in 2010.

For the first time ever, the “spring game” was indoors and out of the elements, enjoyed by a crowd of nearly 2,500 Herd fans who jammed the West sideline of the Chris Cline Athletic Center track for bleacher seating, or sat on blankets or seat cushions on the all-weather track as Marshall’s defense won the first indoor spring game at Marshall, 165-116. Then the Herd stuck around for 45 minutes after the scrimmage ended to get autographs from all Marshall’s players on the 2017 football poster, which were also given away.

MUFB 2017 G-W Scrimmage 4-22-2017 Def wins 165-116, Tyre Brady had two long TDs, the first for 73-yards past Kereon Merrell (27)

Tyre Brady had two long TDs, the first for 73-yards past Kereon Merrell (27) on the second play from scrimmage from QB Chase Litton. (photo by Greg Perry, Herd Insider)

The Herd coaches have had a scoring system for every play in the scrimmage this spring, with points to stops on third or fourth down, interceptions (there were four), fumbles (two) and other good plays. The offense certainly had moments in the game, as returning two-year starting quarterback Chase Litton threw to Miami, Fla. transfer Tyre Brady for a 73-yard touchdown on the second play from scrimmage from the 27-yard line, and the folks who had just sat down got back on their feet to cheer this exciting play.

The indoor has the South end zone which is shorter than regulation where the six-lane track passes through it. With all the folks in attendance also sitting near the back of that end zone, the Marshall coaches marked the goal line of the South end zone at the 20-yard line; then in the North end zone, Marshall officials had the goal marked at the 10 — so take the stats with a cup of Marshall sports info and a pinch of Herd Insider, as both organizations did the best they could with the stats under the conditions of the indoor workout. With rain predicted, and it was raining at noon when players, coaches, fans and many Thundering Herd veterans joined together to turn the Marshall Memorial Fountain back on.

Vinny

Vinny Curry was shocked and pleased to find out he was not only spearheading the campaign to upgrade the Herd’s locker room for only the second time since 1991, but it would now be named the Vinny Curry-Marshall Football Locker Room. Curry speaks to media, and other former players who donated to the project, and to his right is Dr. Jerry Gilbert, Marshall’s President, and Herd Head coach Doc Holliday. (Herd Insider photo by Greg Perry)

That followed many of those former Marshall players drawing together to see the newly christened Marshall locker room for football as the Vinny Curry Marshall Football Locker Room. Curry, who plays for the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL (who also wears No. 75 in honor of the lives remembered with the fountain who were lost in the Nov. 14, 1970, Marshall charter plane returning from a game at East Carolina), was overcome with emotion over the naming of the facility for him.

Curry donated $200,000 to kick off the locker room renovation and endowed a scholarship in his mother’s name. Former players will be featured on the lockers with nameplates after a donation of $1,000, and Curry was unaware of the locker room having his name on it from now on.

“We just wanted to show our facilities are right up there with anyone else,” Curry said during the ceremony in the locker room. “It will help our coaches with recruiting. I hope this will push the players and keep this Marshall program moving forward.”

marshall-university-81219_640

Once again, the Marshall Memorial Fountain came back on for the spring and summer, to celebrate the return of Herd football in 1971. The fountain is turned off again on Nov. 14, to honor the 75 who died in the Marshall football’s Southern Airways charter coming back from ECU. (courtesy photo, Marshall University)

At the fountain, Todd Ellwood — a receiver for Marshall, and son of the head coach — remembered what it was like for players in the 1971-to-1983 era, during which Marshall was the losingest team in the nation (1970-79, 23 wins-83 losses, worst in the NCAA Division I among all football teams). Marshall had no winning seasons from 1965-83 and endured two long losing streaks, in all games played from 1966-69 and in all Southern Conference games from 1977-81.

Unbelievably, both streaks were 0-26-1 before they were broken by Coach Rick Tolley’s team in 1969 by winning three of its last four games — the streak-breaker over then Coach Don Nehlen’s Bowling Green State Falcons at Fairfield Stadium. Then Coach Sonny Randle beating Appalachian State in Boone, N.C., in 1981 and having over 3,000 Herd fans waiting for the Herd to return (with a Huntington Police Escort, from Hurricane to 18th Street at Marshall) at Gullickson Gym and Hodges Hall for the 2-8 Herd’s return.

Ellwood’s father was Frank Ellwood, who was coach of the Herd from 1975-78 (10-34) and who led the Herd after Jack Lengyel and his “Young” Thundering Herd started the rebuild in 1971-74 (9-33). Sonny Randle would lead the program from 1979-83 (12-42-1), just as the Herd was moved to I-AA — the main ingredient to turn the program’s fortunes around in the next decade and above.

MUFB 2017 G-W Scrimmage 4-22-2017 Def wins 165-116, Terry Chidres, Frank Hayes, Bob Maxwell, Coach Jack Lengyel and Roger Jefferson enjoy the new Vinny Curry Marshall Football Lockeroom

Terry Childress (a former team manager, Frank Hayes, Bob Maxwell, Coach Jack Lengyel (Marshall 1971-74) and Roger Jefferson (Maxwell and Jefferson were captains of the 1962 Herd) enjoy the new Vinny Curry Marshall Football Locker Room. (courtesy photo, Judy May Hayes Facebook)

Ellwood noted in his four years, 1976-79 — same as Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick, on the podium with him — the Herd only won 10 games: 5-6 in 1976 (with a forfeit win by Morehead State, then the upset of No. 20-ranked Miami-Ohio, 21-16, the next week; 2-9 in 1977; and 1-10 in both 1978 and 1979 under Ellwood and Randle, respectively. Thank goodness for the University of Toledo, who lost to Marshall in 1977-78-79, three of four victories (along with one over Morehead State in ’77) during that tough three years.

“Since then, Marshall has played in six National Championship games in I-AA, played in 11 bowls and won nine of them and has won nine conference championships and two national championships,” Ellwood said of the Marshall successes since that first trip to the I-AA National Championship game in 1987. “Can you imagine that? It is great to see the success of our program and our school.”

Dr. Gilbert and Curry called for the fountain to turn on. There was a dramatic second or two until when the water shot out of the fountain to cheers of the fans who gathered in the covered plaza or on the second-floor balcony of the Marshall Memorial Student Center. A crowd of over 300 crowded in to see Ellwood, Curry, President Jerry Gilbert of Marshall, Hamrick and Rev. Steve Harvey, who is the Marshall football chaplain. Many players of the 1970s era were in attendance, from Allen Meadows and Roger Hillis, both 1971 freshmen on the Young Thundering Herd, to players like Ellwood, Hamrick and even your author, who worked for both Ellwood and Randle during that tough time of Marshall football.

MUFB 2017 G-W Scrimmage 4-22-2017 Def wins 165-116, The Vinny Curry Locker Room, as former players check out the new digs for the Herd

Herd fans check out the M in the middle of the newly renovated Vinny Curry-Marshall Football Locker Room, including Rex Repass (on left, green cap) and Roger Hillis (towards the back, in green cap). (Herd Insider photo by Greg Perry)

The scrimmage allowed each of Marshall’s four quarterbacks to get reps four reps four times with either the first or second unit. Litton is a junior, in his third spring at Marshall, and helped the Herd to 10-3 with a bowl win as a freshman, then started 10 games in last year’s disappointing 3-9 season; sophomore Garet Morrell, who started against Louisville and WKU last year when Litton was injured, and played in ; redshirt freshman Xavier Gaines; and redshirt freshman Jackson White. The Herd also has a redshirt frosh who arrived for spring, Christian Schlegel, who is a walk-on, and who would not take snaps in the scrimmage.

“I thought it was neat, and I thought it worked well with the changeup,” Holliday said. “A lot of our fans had not had the chance to come into our great building. There are not too many programs in the country who could move their spring game indoors and have such a great crowd come in and watch the scrimmage.

“When you only have 15 practices (during spring football), and only 12 of those are padded (players in full pads), you can’t waste one. We didn’t have to go out and lose a good work day because we had this great building to use. We would not have got as much done if we didn’t have this great facility.

“I thought the scrimmage went great. The young players continue to grow. We had some skill guys we held out and hope they will be back for next week’s three practices. We get the (Ryan) Yurachek, and other players like that back out there.”

MUFB 2017 G-W Scrimmage 4-22-2017 Def wins 165-116, Tyre Brady celebrates with Willie Johnson, scoring after scoring a second time

Tyre Brady (8) celebrates a second touchdown with fellow receiver Willie Johnson, but corner Rodney Alley (11) having no fun on this score. (Herd Insider photo by Greg Perry)

When Holliday was asked about Tyre Brady, he smiled like the cat with the canary. “He’s something, isn’t he?” Holliday said with a smile of the transfer with two years to play after two years in the ACC. But to tell the truth, Holliday keeps coming back to his younger players, players like receiver Willie Johnson who missed all last year with an injury. Holliday was encouraged how the freshmen players as a group came back from tough plays – or a play the defense won – to make a good play later.

“That was nice to see a young player come back and make a play like that,” Holliday said of Johnson. “He dropped one earlier but came back to get that one (a 53-yard touchdown, on a one-handed catch and beating two defenders). Young guys don’t always do that (come back after a bad play) so that was good to see. We have some talented young guys like Willie, Marcel Williams (1 catch for a 6-yard TD), players like that we need to get better for fall.

“Freshman, unfortunately — and when you have freshmen quarterbacks, you are going to have times there where you see it out of them. Morrell had that great touchdown pass to Willie, Xavier Gaines had some good plays — I think they will continue to get better. This is only the 12th practice of spring for them.They are pressing a little bit, I think both those kids are good, they will make plays for us and Todd (Goebbel) is doing a great job with them.”

MUFB 2017 G-W Scrimmage 4-22-2017 Def wins 165-116, Xavier Gaines (11) pitches to back Joseph Early (47)

Xavier Gaines (11) pitches to back Joseph Early, who rushed for 78 yards and one score. Gaines was the best runner among the QBs, with 45 yards on 7 carries, but only hit 2-of-14 passing, although one was a touchdown pass. (Herd Insider photo by Greg Perry)

Over the winter, Todd Goebbel was moved from receivers to quarterbacks, a position he played at Kent State and Northern Iowa, both old-school Marshall foes. Goebbel is also co-coordinator of the offense with eight-year veteran Bill Legg, who is now coaching the young tight ends who will need to be ready as Yurachek is still on the mend from off-season surgery.

It was a great day of unveiling of the new locker room, once again the turning on of the Memorial Fountain to remember the 1970 lives lost and the rebirth of the program in 1971, and the first indoor spring game but it was a game situation scrimmage with 120 plays being run after about 45 minutes of regular practice and field goals — and there are still three days left to work, coming up on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, all at the Joan C. Edwards Stadium weather-willing. Holliday is excited about building off this scrimmage.

“I told them when we came together after practice, if they have their best three days of practice next week in our final three practices, then we will have shot. They are growing up as a team, and I expect them to come back and have their best practice of the spring next Tuesday. We will have a shot this fall if that happens.

MUFB 2017 G-W Scrimmage 4-22-2017 Def wins 165-116, Garet Morrell hands off to Keion David

Keion Davis takes the handoff from Garet Morrell, and Davis led all runners with 93 yards and one TD. Morrell hit 6-of-13 for 59 yards with a 53-yard touchdown to Willie Johnson but was sacked for -22 yards in rushing. (Herd Insider photo by Greg Perry)

“I think Chase is playing his best football right now,” Holliday said of his most experienced quarterback, Chase Litton. Litton, who came in as a blue shirt, and is now a junior in his third spring football. “He took care of the ball, I don’t have the stats but I don’t think he had any turnovers. We have got some running back guys not out there now. The offensive line seems to be getting better and we are starting to see some explosive plays from our receivers.”

Litton hit 10-of-21 passes, for 214 yards and four touchdowns, two to Brady (a 73-yard score and later a 37-yard TD, and a great catch for 27 yards for a first down when Brady was hit by both Brandon Drayton and Malik Gant in a “sandwich” of two big shots but Brady held onto the ball). Litton also ran once for 73 yards. Garet Morrell was sacked six times for a loss of −22 yards but hit 6-of-13 passing for 59 yards, throwing the 53-yard touchdown to Willie Johnson and one interception (by Artis Johnson).

Xavier Gaines, who said after practice he is not really a scrambling quarterback, ran well with seven carries for 45 yards, the best among the quarterbacks but did lose a fumble to Aaron Dopson. But he struggled when he was throwing the ball, hitting just 2-of-14 for 15 yards. One of the two was a touchdown of six yards to Marcel Johnson, but Gaines also threw an interception to Dontrell Johnson. Jackson White ran well, 25 yards on five carries (5.0 yards per carry). But passing wise, he was 0-for-8, although there were three or four drops by the second and third team receivers.

MUFB 2017 G-W Scrimmage 4-22-2017 Def wins 165-116, crowd watches as (41) Tramell Carey lets a catch slip through his hands as Nazeeh Johnson (49) and D'Andre Chocolate Wilson (28) pursue

(41) Tramell Carey lets a catch slip through his hands as Nazeeh Johnson (49) and D’Andre Chocolate Wilson (28) pursue on the defensive side. Approximately 2,500 Herd fans watched the first indoor spring game in Marshall history on Saturday. (Herd Insider photo by Greg Perry)

Rushing the ball, redshirt junior and returning starter Keion Davis rushed 18 times for 93 yards (5.2 yards per carry), and scored a one-yard touchdown. He was nearly matched by redshirt freshman Joseph Early, a player who has gotten quite a bit of work with other running backs on the injury report. He carried 21 times for 78 yards (3.7 ypc) and one touchdown, a run of 1-yard during goal line drills inside the 25.

Brady led the receivers with 4-for-156 yards, an amazing 39-yard per catch, and two touchdowns. Junior slot receiver Nick Matthews flashed his good hands, both as a holder for field goals and with five catches for 56 yards, (11.2 yards per catch) and back-to-back touchdowns in goal line from Litton from 23 yards and 15 yards. Redshirt frosh Cody Mitchell, out of Point Pleasant, W.Va., had two catches for five yards but was badly overthrown or underthrown on the other three passes his way. Willie Johnson finished with three catches for 63 yards, 53 of which came on the TD throw by Morrell.

MUFB 2017 G-W Scrimmage 4-22-2017 Def wins 165-116, Chase Litton turns upfield as Doc Holliday watches in background

Chase Litton threw for over 200 yards and four touchdowns, and here runs for eight yards on his only carry as Doc Holliday takes it in from behind Litton. (Herd Insider photo by Greg Perry)

“On the defense, I see some guys running around out there, guys like Juwan Young (a redshirt junior linebacker) can make a play.” Young ended the day with seven tackles and one tackle for loss. “Channing Hames has been a guy you notice and we have got some players in the secondary making plays.”

Some of those new players included junior college linebacker Artis Johnson, who had four tackles and an interception, and senior Johnson (from Ellsworth CC), who had an interception. There was a fantastic day for redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Damien Dozier, who led the day with nine tackles, a quarterback sack and tackle for loss, redshirt junior linebacker Brandon Drayton had seven tackles and broke up a pass.

Holliday was also asked about redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Aaron Dopson, who had four tackles, 1.5 quarterback sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss and recovered a fumble on the day. “He has been a guy we have talked about all spring,” Holliday said. “He is a tough guy who is running around, making plays.”

The Herd will practice on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, starting around 2:45 p.m. Next Saturday should be another scrimmage, on the schedule for now at 9 a.m., but that is subject to change. All will be open to the public at Edwards Stadium but will be closed for inside work. Check with Herd Insider (herdinsider.com) or go to HerdZone.com to check on any changes.

MUFB 2017 G-W Scrimmage 4-22-2017 Def wins 165-116, Doc Holliday takes a moment after the G-W scrimmage ended

Doc Holliday challenges the Herd to come back next week and end spring football 2017 with its three best practices of the spring as Herd players and fans begin the countdown to the opening game on September 2 against the team ALL Herd fans love to hate, the RedHawks of Miami-Ohio. (Herd Insider photo by Greg Perry)

Final Score: White/Defense-165 Green/Offense-116

Team Rushing 61-for-215 (3.6)

Team Passing 28-for-56 283 yards, 6 TDs, 2 INTs

24-Keion Davis 18-for-93 yards, 1-yard TD

47-Joseph Early 21-for-78, 9-yard TD

11-Xavier Gaines rush 7-45, fumble; pass 2-of-14, 15 yards, TD, INT

12-Garet Morrell rush 6(-22); pass 6-of-13, 59 yards, TD, INT

14-Chase Litton rush 1-8; pass 10-of-21, 214 yards, 4 TDs

13-Jackson White rush 5-25; pass 0-of-8

Receiving

Tyre Brady 4-for-156 yards, 73-yards, & 37-yards for 2 TDs (Litton), 27-yard pass (Litton)

Cody Mitchell 2-for-5 yards

Nick Mathews 5-for-56 yards, 23-yards, & 15-yards for 2 TDs (Litton) 40-yard pass (Litton)

Marcel Williams 1-6 yard, TD (Gaines)

Armani Levias 1-for-15 yards

Willie Johnson, 3-for-64 yards, 53 yards for TD (Morrell)

Simino Walden 1-for-6 yards

Keion Davis 2 (-8) yards

Defensive stats (combo of figures from MU SID & those kept by Herd Insider)

90-Damien Dozier 9 TKLS, QBS (-6), TFL (-6)

4-Juwan Young 7 TKLS, TFL (-4)

45-Brandon Drayton 7 TKLS, PBU

35-Frankie Hernandez 6 TKLS, PBU, 2 TFL (-1, −2)

31-Omari Cobb 5 TKLS, TFL (-4)

49-Nazeeh Johnson 5 TKLS

10-Donyae Moody 4 TKLS, TFL (-2), QBP

29-Malik Gant 4 TKLS

32-Artis Johnson 4 TKLS, INT

69-Aaron Dobson 4 TKLS, 1.5 QBS (-1, −9) 3.5 TFL (-1, −2, −3, −9), FR

29-Malik Gant 4 TKLS

98-Charkie Johnson 4 TKLS, 2 QBS (-2, −3), 2 TFL (-2, −3)

37-Chase Hancock 4 TKLS, PBU

42-George Davis 4 TKLS

33-Marquis Couch 2 TKLS

60-Joey Maddox 2 TKLS

94-Channing Hames 2 TKLS, 1.5 QBS (-1, −1), 1.5 TFL (-1, −1)

28-D’Andre Wilson 2 TKLS, 1.5 TFL (-1, −4), PBU, QBP

11-Rodney Allen 1 TKL, 1.5 TFL (-2, −3)

99-Jason Smith 1 TKL

22-Jestin Morrow 1 TKL, 2 PBU

56-Tyler Kopp FR

18-Dontrell Johnson INT

Key: TKLS-tackles, TFL-tackles for loss, QBS-quarterback sacks, QBP-quarterback pressure, PBU-pass broken up, INT-interception, and FR-fumble recovery

THUNDER NOTES:

 – Former members of the Thundering Herd family spotted in attendance at the Green-White Weekend included Mike Hamrick, now Marshall’s Director of Athletics, a defensive end/linebacker in his playing days. Also offensive lineman Roger Hillis, defensive tackle Allen Meadows, Head Coach Jack Lengyel, former assistant coach, running back and return specialist Mickey Jackson, receiver Todd Ellwood, receiver, tight end, and quarterback, now the Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, former student-trainer Frank Shaffer, center Mark Mitchell, defensive end Steve Morton, receiver Rex Repass, offensive tackle Randy Chafin, center Mike Williams, defensive tackle Brian Hite, business manager Ted Wilson, guard/tackle Dan Wells, tackle Joe Fralic, tackle Danny Stephens, defensive back Kevin Smith, defensive back Mike Johnson, defensive back Danny Tennant, fullback Don Johnson, center Doug Legursky, guard/center Aaron Ferguson, receiver Brian O’Dell, linebacker Randy Hawkins, tackle Madison Sayre, 1962 Herd captains Roger Jefferson and Bob Maxwell, quarterback Willie Wilson, tackle Howie Harris, running back Bob Campbell, defensive end Vinny Curry, and many, many more. Sorry if we missed anyone but we are getting old… let’s just make that older, said the former student-manager/video & film grad assistant/equipment manager Woody Woodrum, now of ESPN Huntington and Herd Insider.

 – Going on as Herd Insider goes to bed was the Alumni Banquet, part of Alumni Weekend along with Green-White Weekend. Honorees include the 80th winner of Distinguished Alumni Award winner Jeff Porter, a 1977 graduate, an award given since 1961 (Marshall College became Marshall University that year); the Distinguished Service to Marshall Award to former Herd coach (1967-72) William “Red” Dawson, an award given since 1968; the winner of the Young Alumni Award goes to Griffin McElroy; and the Community Achievement Award goes to both Huntington and YMCA leader George Smailes and Brandy Barkey-Sweeney, an educator, and marketing professional in Point Pleasant, W.Va., an award that has been given since 1974.

 – Due to stadium upgrades, the commemorative bricks laid on the West side of Joan C. Edwards Stadium during its initial construction are being replaced. The names of those people who purchased bricks in 1991 will be erected on plaques on the West stadium wall near the “We Are Marshall” memorial. This move became necessary as the bricks have become weathered and difficult to read. Families wishing to keep their bricks may pick them up tomorrow at the Spring Scrimmage, beginning at 2 p.m. The bricks will be displayed in the South end zone concourse where the Big Green Scholarship Foundation will distribute them. Owners will be asked to sign their names to pick up their bricks. If you have questions concerning the announcement, you may arrange pickup of your bricks by contacting the Big Green at 304-696-4661.

 – On Friday night, the Marshall Athletics’ Big Green Scholarship Foundation held its third HERDSPYs event, honoring student-athletes and recognizing some of the greatest moments in Thundering Herd history, as voted by Thundering Herd fans via HerdZone.com.

  • Feature Awards

  • Chad Pennington Leadership Award: Ally Kiekover, Volleyball
  • HERDSPY for Courage & Commitment: Stevie Browning, Men’s Basketball
  • HERDSPY for Dedication to Excellence: Swimming and Diving team
  • HERDSPY for Perseverance: Talequia Hamilton, Women’s Basketball
  • Fan Vote Awards
  • 
MBB Play of the Year: Ryan Taylor’s overtime steal and hoop off a jump ball in the win over Toledo
  • FB Play of the Year: Corey Neely’s acrobatic interception in the win over Middle Tennessee
  • Olympic Sports Moment of the Year: Marshall Softball breaking the program record for consecutive victories (17)
  • Moment of the Year: Men’s Basketball’s Conference USA Tournament run up to the championship game

About Woody Woodrum

Senior Editor and columnist/writer for Herd Insider since 2003, with Kindred Communications on radio for Marshall football/men's basketball pregame and postgame shows since 1996 and with First Sentry Bank Sportsline (Also Scott on Sports, Sideline Sports and Herd Insider Sportsline) since 1997. Married to Liz (12-22-1990) and one son, Tre' (11-7-1997). National Sportswriters & Sportscasters West Virginia Broadcaster of the Year winner for radio, 2000; won W.Va. Broadcasters Best Talk Show in 2013 with co-host Paul Swann and W.Va. Broadcasters Best Play-by-Play in 2015 with Jason Toy (Huntington at South Charleston, state AAA semifinals). Member of (College) Football Writers Association of America, (College) Basketball Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Color commentator for Marshall football (1999-2000), for Marshall basketball (2004-2016) and Marshall baseball (2004-2016). Color for high school football at Spring Valley (1999-2008), Cabell Midland (2009-2012) and Huntington (W.Va.) High School (2013-2016).

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