Ben Fields: Marshall's new mascot looks familiar
When Marshall University unveiled a new mascot a few years ago that looked like a roided-out minotaur with bloodshot eyes and claws — and don’t forget the track pants — a lot of fans weren’t happy.
That’s why the university held a vote for a new design for Marco, Marshall University’s beloved buffalo that represents the Thundering Herd at athletic events.
Guess what? Marshall alumni and fans chose the design that looked the most like the old Marco.
And what a better place to unveil the new mascot than Saturday at the Homecoming football game.
Before the contest with UTSA got underway, a video came on the big screens at Joan C. Edwards Stadium showing track pants Marco in a comatose state as doctors attempted to revive him.
A cart with an Army triage tent on the back rolled out on the field, and through a plume of smoke, new, old Marco emerged.
The mascot was played through the first quarter by Dr. Allen Young, reprising a role he played in the early 1990s when he won the mascot national championship.
“He (Young) actually worked on the design,” said university spokesman Matt Turner. “He worked with Dale Morton Studios in Hurricane. He took measurements from the old Marco to get it as close to the old mascot as he could, with some minor changes, because we knew that’s what people wanted.”
The new Marco sports a green sweater with the Marshall “M” on the front in white. Ironically, the mascot is the only part of the football team with a name on the back of his shirt. There are no track pants, just brown fur that ends with hooved shoes.
The school will have three new Marco suits, with each suit costing about $4,000, Turner said.
THE LONGEST DRIVE: In the fourth quarter, the Thundering Herd put together an 11-play, 74-yard drive that ate 5 minutes and 58 seconds off the game clock and ended with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Rakeem Cato to Demetrius Evans. It was the longest drive, in terms of time of possession, for the Herd all season.
It also deterred any notion of a comeback by the Roadrunners, putting Marshall up 34-10 with 3:46 remaining. For a hurry-up team that rarely applies the brakes, it was an important change of pace.
“For our offense, that’s big, being able to back off the tempo a bit but still knowing that we need to score,” Cato said. “The whole offense executed on that drive, and that clinched the game.”
Head coach Doc Holliday said the drive was indicative of how well Marshall’s defense was playing.
“I’ve talked all along that when you can play defense, there are times you need to slow it down,” Holliday said. “We couldn’t do that a year ago. It was great to be able to see that we decided to slow it down and not only take five, six minutes off the clock but also put it in the end zone.
“That’s a step forward for our offense to be able to change pace like that.”
JAZZ HANDS: Marshall wide receiver Jazz King had one reception Saturday for 40 yards. It’s the longest catch in the junior’s career with the Herd.
CATO WATCH: Cato continues to climb in Marshall’s record book. When the junior completed his 690th career pass in the third quarter, he passed Michael Payton to become third all-time. Cato still has a way to go to catch second-place Byron Leftwich (939) and record holder Chad Pennington (1,026).
With his first of two touchdown passes in the game, Cato also broke a tie with Todd Donnan for fourth all-time. Cato has six more to go to catch Payton, and again Leftwich and Pennington are a bit farther down the road with 89 and 115 touchdown passes respectively.
GROWING VISION: Marshall’s Vision Campaign, a project that is seeking $30 million in funding to build new athletic facilities including an $8.8 million soccer complex that opened in August, got a $300,000 boost as four automotive dealers — Moses, Dutch Miller, Advantage and Smith Motors – presented athletic director Mike Hamrick with a check in the first half Saturday.
Ben Fields is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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