Posted: Monday December 27, 1999 06:33 PM
PONTIAC, Michigan (Ticker) -- Marshall's perfect season is complete.
Doug Chapman scored three touchdowns and ran for 133 yards, and the defense nearly halted No. 25 Brigham Young's NCAA record scoring streak in 11th-ranked Marshall's dominating 21-3 victory in the Motor City Bowl.
The Thundering Herd finished the season 13-0 and extended the nation's longest winning streak to 17 games, but long ago realized they had no shot at winning the national championship.
That did not deter them from winning the Mid-American Conference championship for the third time in as many seasons at the Division I-A level and reaching this game for the third straight time.
"We're a top-10 team, I know that," Marshall coach Bob Pruett said. "If you ask me, they should be No. 1. Two out of three years undefeated, these guys know how to win. You have to be a great football team to win that many."
In the inaugural Motor City Bowl three years ago, Marshall was a 34-31 loser to Mississippi, but rebounded last season to win in the Silverdome over Louisville, 48-29.
BYU (8-4) scored first, as Owen Pochman hit a 28-yard field goal with 1:58 left in the first quarter. But Marshall methodically took over, with Chapman scoring one touchdown in each quarter thereafter.
The Thundering Herd went 8-0 in 1919 and 15-0 in 1996, the only other years they navigated their schedule without a blemish.
They did go 9-0-1 in 1937 and were 2-0-1 in 1901 and 4-0-1 in 1906.
Marshall became the 10th team, and eighth school, to go undefeated this decade, joining Tulane (1998), Nebraska (1994, '95, '97), Michigan (1997), Penn State (1994), Alabama (1992), Miami (1991) and Washington (1991). The winner of the January 4 Sugar Bowl between Florida State and Virginia Tech in New Orleans will join that group and win the national title.
Before making the jump to Division I-A in 1997, Marshall won I-AA championships in 1992 and 1996.
"No question, they deserve to be where they are ranked," BYU coach Lavell Edwards said. "I am going to vote for them in the top 10."
BYU was in an unfavorable bowl spot for the second time in as many years. The Cougars were forced to play unbeaten Tulane in the Liberty Bowl last season and suffered a 41-27 loss to Shaun King and the Green Wave.
The Cougars were stifled early in the third quarter when Marshall defensive back Michael Owens hit quarterback Kevin Feterik hard off a blitz. Feterik suffered a bruised collarbone and did not return.
Thanks to Pochman's field goal, BYU got on the board for the 312th consecutive time, extending its NCAA record.
Marshall's three scoring drives totaled a mere five plays.
BYU's Jared Lee intercepted Chad Pennington but fumbled, and Marshall receiver Lanier Washington recovered at the Cougars 30-yard line. On the next play, Pennington dumped a pass to Chapman, who made a series of jukes en route to a touchdown that gave Marshall the lead for good, 7-3, with 8:18 left in the first half.
Pennington completed 17-of-28 passes for 207 yards and one touchdown with one interception, winning an NCAA Division I-A-record 45th game as a starting quarterback.
"A win is never frustrating. We did what we needed to do on offense," he said. "We didn't put up great numbers, but we won.
In the first half, our linemen looked like zombies. I'm just delighted that the defense played as well as it did."
Marshall could not capitalize on a late turnover as Billy Malashevic hit the right upright for the second time on a field goal attempt.
After a punt and a penalty left Marshall on its own 4, Chapman had a nine-yard run, then broke off a career-best 87-yard burst for a TD that increased the lead to 14-3 with 51 seconds left in the the third quarter.
"The offensive line moved them off the ball and Lanier Wahington made a great block on the safety," Chapman said. "I stumbled, I caught my balance and noticed that nobody was in the middle of the field. I just hoped to God I wouldn't get caught because I was tired and I was cramping up."
Standout safety Rogers Beckett made his second interception of the game and returned the ball 16 yards to the 1. Chapman vaulted the pile for the final touchdown one play later, making it 21-3 with 14:07 remaining.
Chapman, who carried 14 times, added 40 yards on four catches.
James Williams led the Thundering Herd with 95 yards on five receptions.
Feterik and Bret Engemann each were 6-of-11, while Charlie Peterson was 4-of-7. The trio was a combined 16-of-29 for 220 yards and two interceptions, finding Margin Hooks four times for 108 yards.
The Cougars were held to minus-16 yards rushing and were victimized by eight sacks, including 2 1/2 by Ron Puggi.
Marshall held a 354-204 advantage in total yardage.
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