Haig at home for win
BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Marshall University kicker Justin Haig isn't a theater major, so he likely couldn't have dreamed up a better script than what played out Saturday at FAU Stadium.
Haig hushed 19,760 fans in attendance -- aside from the Marshall crowd -- when he drilled a 41-yard field goal as time expired to give Marshall a 24-23 win over Florida Atlantic.
Getting a game-winning field goal in any road environment is special.
But this? This was a dream come true for the Thundering Herd junior.
Haig is a native of Delray Beach, Fla, which is about 20 minutes from Boca Raton. However, he graduated from American Heritage, which is a bit closer to FAU's campus.
"My high school is four miles away," Haig said with a smile.
This is where Haig grew up and everything about the atmosphere was familiar to him.
The warm Florida air, the breeze in his face and the blend of Bermuda grass on the field, which is fittingly known as "Celebration."
"I was so excited to kick on the grass," Haig said. "This is what I've been kicking on forever. It was a little worn out at the end of the game, but it's just what I'm used to."
Haig's kick might have been good from 50 yards as he struck it true and flew it through the uprights to send all the players to the turf -- Marshall's players in celebration and FAU's players collapsing in defeat.
Not that it didn't come without suspense, too.
FAU coach Carl Pelini called a pair of timeouts in an effort to ice Haig after Marshall had worked the clock down to the final ticks prior to a spike by Rakeem Cato.
Haig said the successive timeouts really have no effect on him or his approach.
"Personally, it doesn't bother me," Haig said. "It allows me to gather everything. I'm not in a rush. Just focus, stay loose and concentrate on the kick."
Marshall head coach Doc Holliday ran and gave Haig a huge hug following the win and later commented on his kicker and the trust he has in him.
That was no more evident than Holliday calling a pair of runs into the middle of the field in the last minute to set up the 41-yarder instead of trying to get any closer with the passing game and risking a late turnover.
"He's a tough kid," Holliday said. "He's the guy, you talk about crawling in a foxhole with, I'll crawl in a foxhole with Haig. I was just so happy for him because he sure deserved it after the adversity he had in Blacksburg (29-21 triple-overtime loss to Virginia Tech)."
The difference on this day was that a blocked field goal try in overtime at Virginia Tech was under miserable circumstances -- a 39-yarder in a driving rain.
This? This situation was perfect. Just ask Haig.
"First of all, the O-line did a great job," Haig said. "Matt (Cincotta) had a great snap and Blake (Frohnpafel) had a great hold. People just tend to overlook those things, but without those things, that kick is not possible."
Following the kick, Haig was tackled to the turf by the Herd players, leaving him with a few stains on his normally clean jersey.
But don't expect Haig to be upset about it in the least.
It's fitting that he was able to take a little hometown "Celebration" with him after winning the game for the Herd.
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