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MU Notebook: Players dedicate victory to 1970 team, seniors

Nov. 19, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

Saturday's 44-41 win over Houston was about much more than just staying bowl eligible or winning for Marshall's senior football players.

It was for all those Marshall family members lost in the plane crash on Nov. 14, 1970.

Those people were close to the players' thoughts following Saturday's game.

"Everyone was talking about coming out and winning for the seniors, but I wanted to win for that 1970 team and the seniors," Marshall wide receiver Tommy Shuler said. "I even put on my Facebook and Twitter. I said I was coming out to play for the 1970 team and the seniors, and everyone could get a great look at the Herd. I felt like we came out and played great today."

Earlier in the week, Marshall players heard speaker Mo Lajterman speak about his brother Marcelo, the Thundering Herd's kicker in 1970 who was lost in the plane crash.

Fittingly, the game came down to Marshall's current kicker -- Justin Haig -- who booted a career-long 45-yard field goal to set off an emotional celebration.

Jordan Jeffries was blocking for Haig on the field goal and ran up to celebrate with him after the kick.

He commented on the magnitude of what being associated with Marshall means, and how important it was to get the win during this particular week.

"I feel like we're living a different experience that a lot of other universities don't have because the history of the plane crash," Jeffries said. "Earlier in the week, we got to go to the ceremony of turning off the fountain. It's a powerful thing.

"To be there with those people and see that it's still affecting and it's still a very present thing in their lives, and to see their face light up a bit when they see the football team there, it's very powerful and it makes you put everything in perspective."

Perhaps no better perspective can be seen than those who were experiencing this week for the first time as members of the Marshall family.

Marshall seniors Okechukwu Okoroha and Dominick LeGrande came from Boston College in the offseason and had heard of the impact the crash had on the community.

On Wednesday, they got to see it first-hand during the ceremony and let that resonate for them on the field during their Senior Day on Saturday.

"Since the first day we stepped on this campus, we've been a part of that, and it actually gave us an opportunity to see it live and see the families that were involved in the crash," Okoroha said. "It was huge for us. Personally, for me, it hit me deep just to be out there, see it and walk up to the fountain. It's personal for a lot of people in the community and since we're a part of it, it's personal for us, too."

WHOLE LOT OF OFFENSE: The 106 offensive plays Marshall ran Saturday represented the top all-time number of plays for the Herd at the FBS level.

The highest overall all-time mark was 108, set in 1987 against Western Carolina when Marshall was a member of Division I-AA (now FCS).

The only other time Marshall has eclipsed the century mark in plays came in the loss at West Virginia on Sept. 1. The Herd ran 101 plays in that game.

RECORD BOOKS: Marshall's 37 first downs tied the school single-game record -- a mark that was set during this season's win over Western Carolina.

Grant Traylor is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or gtraylor@herald-dispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter (@GrantTraylor).

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