1227 Smith Xavier

Members of the Young Thundering Herd rush the field after Marshall defeated Xavier on the final play of the game in the team’s first win since the 1970 crash that claimed 75 players, coaches and fans.

1971: Young Thundering Herd beats Xavier

Marshall rose up on Sept. 25, 1971, to defeat Xavier in its first home game following the plane crash. Reggie Oliver passed to Terry Gardner for a touchcown on the final play of the game in the 15-13 triumph.

1984: Long string of losing ends

Marshall completed the 1984 season with consecutive road wins at Illinois State and East Tennessee State to finish with a 6-5 record -- its first winning season in 20 years.

1987: First trip to the playoffs

Marshall made its first NCAA Division I-AA playoff appearance in 1987 and finished as the runner-up. Northeast Louisiana defeated Marshall in the championship game, 43-42, in Pocatello, Idaho.

1988: First SC football championship

NCAA Division I-AA player of the year Mike Barber of Winfield, W.Va., led Marshall to its first Southern Conference football championship. With an eight-game win streak to begin the season, Marshall also climbed to No. 1 in the nation for the first time.

1991: Marshall University Stadium opens

Marshall had a banner year in 1991. Coach Jim Donnan's team posted an 11-4 record and lost to Youngstown State in the NCAA Division I-AA playoff finals. The Thundering Herd opened Marshall University Stadium with a 24-23 victory over New Hampshire in front of a crowd of 33,116.

1992: NCAA Division I-AA champions

Willy Merrick kicked the only field goal of his career to beat Youngstown State, 31-28, and give Marshall its first NCAA Division I-AA championship. Merrick connected from 22 yards with 10 seconds left in the game at Marshall University Stadium.

1996: Undefeated NCAA Division I-AA champions

Head coach Bobby Pruett returned to his alma mater with a bang, guiding Marshall to a 15-0 record and its second NCAA Division I-AA championship. None of the games was closer than two touchdowns. Pruett received national coach of the year recognition.

1997: Moving into the big time

Randy Moss was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 1997 when Marshall made its NCAA Division I-A and Mid-American Conference debut with 10 wins and a league championship. Marshall opened the season with a loss at West Virginia, 42-31.

1998: First bowl game victory

Marshall knocked off South Carolina -- its first win against a Southeastern Conference opponent -- on the way to capturing the Mid-American Conference championship and earning a Motor City Bowl bid. Marshall then beat Louisville for its first bowl triumph.

1999: Winningest team of the decade

Marshall completed the decade of the 1990s with 114 victories -- more than any other team in NCAA Division I-A or I-AA ever. Quarterback Chad Pennington was a Heisman Trophy finalist. Marshall defeated Western Michigan for the Mid-American Conference championship on a late Pennington pass to Eric Pinkerton.

2001: What a game it was

Quarterback Byron Leftwich led the Thundering Herd all the way back from a 30-point halftime deficit to beat East Carolina in the GMAC Bowl, 64-61, in double overtime. It was the highest-scoring bowl game in history. The teams combined for 1,141 total yards.

2002: MAC champions, won bowl

Marshall capped another Mid-American Conference championship with a GMAC Bowl victory, but the season will be best remembered for offensive linemen carrying injured quarterback Byron Leftwich downfield between plays in the Akron game. Also, a Miami (Ohio) assistant coach was hauled away from Marshall Stadium by police after allegedly shoving a fan after a Thundering Herd victory.

2003: Full steam into C-USA.

Marshall announced it was leaving the Mid-American Conference to join Conference USA, but not without making headlines first. The Thundering Herd opened the season with an upset at No. 6 Kansas State. Marshall University Stadium was renamed in honor of school philanthropist Joan C. Edwards.

2004: End of an era

Bobby Pruett retired as head coach at his alma mater with a 94-23 record and .803 winning percentage for nine seasons. Pruett won more games than any football coach in school history. His teams won five Mid-American Conference championships, won the NCAA Division I-AA championship in 1996 and went to seven bowl games.

2005: Big home crowd marks season

A Joan C. Edwards Stadium record crowd of 36,914 turned out for the Kansas State game on Sept. 10, 2005. K-State won, 21-19. Marshall compiled a 4-7 record and was 3-5 as a first-year member of Conference USA.

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