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Marshall to wear '75' decals vs. Tulsa

Nov. 11, 2013 @ 11:49 AM

HUNTINGTON -- For the first time since the 1970 plane crash, Marshall will be playing on the road on Nov. 14.

While that means the Herd will be gone before Thursday's ceremony to honor the 75 fallen victims of Southern Airways Flight 932, Marshall's administration and football program is doing all they can to make sure everyone in Huntington knows those fallen are not forgotten.

On Sunday, Marshall unveiled special decals for Thursday's 7:30 p.m. contest against Tulsa, which will be seen nationally on Fox Sports One.

The white helmet will still feature the green stripe down the middle and the normal 'M' decal on the right side.

However, the decal on the left side will be a Kelly green '75' to commemorate those lives lost in the plane crash outside of Tri-State Airport following the team's return from a 17-14 loss at East Carolina.

"It's the right thing to do," Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick said to HerdZone.com columnist Jack Bogaczyk. "The nation is certainly familiar with our Marshall story, the tragic crash, the loss of life. It's a large part of our fabric."

Marshall head coach Doc Holliday also spoke with Bogaczyk about the importance of the gesture.

"Our kids will be a proud bunch with that 75 on their helmets," Holliday said. "They all understand the history and the tradition of the program -- the sadness, the emotion -- the coming back from that to win championships...

"And they'll be reminded of it before the game and just what that '75' means."

The story of Marshall's plane crash has been well-documented in the movie "We Are Marshall" and also in the documentary "Ashes to Glory."

The fabric that Hamrick spoke of is how the Huntington community rallied following the tragedy to keep football alive at Marshall University.

Hamrick was a part of that rebuilding process as one of hundreds of student-athletes who came through to play football and continue the program. He played for the Herd from 1976-79.

Even though the early days of that rebuilding process were difficult and there wasn't much success for Marshall's football program, the way was paved for the future success of the Herd, which began in the late '80s and built through the '90s and into the 2000s prior to the move to Conference USA.

Now, in 2013, the Herd is looking to regain its prominence by taking its first Conference USA title.

To do so, they will have to remain successful this week by earning a win at Tulsa.

Marshall has never defeated Tulsa, so this week, the team's travel squad of approximately 70 will look for a milestone on the first occasion of the Herd playing a road game on Nov. 14 since 1970.

And, thanks to the gesture by Marshall's athletics administration, when the Herd makes the journey this week, there will be 75 others traveling with them in spirit.

OFFENSIVE EXPLOSION: Marshall's consecutive 630-yard offensive performances against UAB (657) and Southern Miss (636) are only the fourth time in school history the team has accomplished the feat.

Other times include 2001 (647 vs. Central Michigan, 726 vs. Akron), 2002 (645 vs. Kent State; 733 vs. Buffalo) and 2012 (665 vs. Houston, 633 vs. East Carolina).

The 657 yards of total offense were sixth all-time in Marshall history.

CATO NUMBERS: When Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato hit Kevin Grooms with a 9-yard touchdown pass just before halftime, it gave him 75 for his Marshall career -- the most among FBS junior quarterbacks in the nation.

Grant Traylor covers Marshall football for The Herald-Dispatch. He can be reached by email at gtraylor@herald-dispatch.com or by phone at 304-526-2860. Follow him on Twitter @GrantTraylor.

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