Thundering Herd overruns Louisville in Motor City Bowl
Posted: Saturday January 09, 1999 08:23 PM
PONTIAC, Michigan (CNN/SI) -- In last season's Motor City Bowl, Marshall seemed a bit overwhelmed to be playing in a big game and just fell short against Mississippi.
What a difference a year makes.
Even without Randy Moss, Chad Pennington and Marshall had an edge. The Thundering Herd knew what to expect from the Silverdome heat.
That made all the difference as Pennington passed for 411 yards and four touchdowns and the defense shut down Louisville in the second half for a 48-29 victory in the second Motor City Bowl on Wednesday night.
The two high-voltage teams combined for 1,012 yards, 613 by Marshall. Still, a big factor was defense as the Herd held Louisville to just 160 yards in the second half.
"One thing that was a factor was being here last year," Marshall coach Bob Pruett said. "Last year, we were ahead at the half, but we were just dead. You don't realize how hot it is down on that field.
"So this year we prepared by taking them inside and just ran them and ran them, getting them used to the heat."
Last year, Pennington threw three touchdown passes in the inaugural game but Marshall still lost when Mississippi scored with 31 seconds remaining to pull out a 34-31 victory.
There was no such drama this time as Marshall (12-1) opened the second half with three touchdowns and a field goal for a 45-21 lead before the Cardinals could respond.
Chris Redman completed 35 of 54 passes for 336 yards and one touchdown with one interception for Louisville (7-5). But just 130 of his passing yards came in the second half.
"We thought we moved the ball well in the second quarter," Redman said. "Then, we had a lull in the third quarter and they kept on going. That got us out of our game plan, and we never could get in any kind of rhythm."
Louisville, which finished third in Conference USA, behind Tulane and Southern Mississippi, went into the game with the nation's No. 1 offense, averaging 40.4 points per game. But the Cardinals, who were 1-10 in 1997, also had a defense that allowed an average of 35.2 points.
"They did a great job in the second half," Louisville coach John L. Smith said. "I felt they played harder in the second half than we did."
Marshall, which earned the return trip by repeating as Mid-American Conference champion, averaged 30 points during the season, holding its opponents to 17.3 per game.
"Something that helped us out was that we weren't in awe of the stadium," Pennington said. "But, it was a new turf and a new opponent, and we're a totally different ball team."
But the one thing that didn't change was Pennington. This time, he got it right.
Pennington, who completed 18 of 24 passes, broke a 21-21 halftime tie with a short pass that Gerald Long turned into a 50-yard touchdown to put Marshall ahead for good with 12:19 left in the third quarter.
Doug Chapman added two 1-yard touchdown runs and Billy Malashevich kicked a 22-yard field goal in the Herd's run. Malashevich added a 32-yarder in the fourth quarter.
The game was a strain on the Silverdome scoreboard almost from the start as each team rang up three touchdowns for a 21-21 tie at halftime.
Marshall's first-half scores all came on Pennington passes. He hooked up with James Williams from 29 and 26 yards and flipped a 14-yard scoring strike to Lanier Washington.
Louisville's first-half touchdowns came on runs of 2 and 13 yards by Leroy Collins, sandwiched around a 21-yard scoring toss from Redman to Charles Sheffield.
Collins added a 1-run touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
There was only one punt in the first half, a 58-yarder by Marshall's Chris Hanson after the Herd went three-and-out on its first possession. Louisville had a punt situation in the second quarter, with fourth-and-14 at the Cardinals 16, but Marshall's Sam Goines drew a penalty for roughing punter Jeremy Borseth.
Given new life, the Cardinals completed an 80-yard drive in 14 plays to tie the score. Marshall's J.R. Jenkins, who usually just handles kickoffs, missed a 56-yard attempt on the final play of the half.
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