Pennington powers Herd

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 15, 1999

The Associated Press

Pennington threw for 393 yards and three touchdowns to offset two second-half interceptions Thursday night, leading No.

Friday, October 15, 1999

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Pennington threw for 393 yards and three touchdowns to offset two second-half interceptions Thursday night, leading No. 15 Marshall to a 38-13 victory over Toledo.

”I put my team in a potentially bad situation,” Pennington said. ”Being a senior quarterback, sometimes you want to make plays instead of being patient. But in the fourth quarter I was able to help us dig out of it.”

Midway through the fourth quarter, Toledo was stopped on downs at the Thundering Herd 41, and Pennington engineered a five-play scoring drive. He capped it with a 15-yard pass to James Williams with 6:06 left for a 31-13 lead.

”He’s got an lot of poise and accuracy,” Toledo coach Gary Pinkel said. ”He’s a veteran now. He does a lot of checks at the line. He can throw any kind of ball. He’s a class act all the way.”

Doug Chapman, who had a 19-yard TD run in the first quarter, capped the scoring with a 3-yard run with 2:02 left.

”I think our kids learned how to put somebody away,” Marshall coach Bob Pruett said.

Marshall (6-0 overall, 3-0 Mid-American Conference) beat Toledo (3-3, 2-2) for the third time at home in three years. The Thundering Herd won in the league championship game the past two seasons to earn an automatic trip to the Motor City Bowl.

Pennington, the league’s career passing leader, completed 27-of-37 passes. The Knoxville, Tenn., native moved into eighth place on the NCAA’s career passing list with 11,316 yards, passing Payton Manning of Tennessee.

Pennington had 284 yards by halftime, but the Thundering Herd sat on a 24-13 halftime lead, managing just eight first downs after intermission.

Toledo couldn’t take advantage behind sophomore quarterback Tavares Bolden, making his second career start.

The Rockets, who ran up 481 yards against the nation’s No. 6 defense, were held scoreless in the second half, driving no closer than the Marshall 28.

”You know things happen. There is no reason why we didn’t get it in the end zone,” Bolden said. ”We just didn’t.”

Marshall cornerback Maurice Hines saved two touchdowns, one with his second interception of the game in the end zone early in the fourth quarter.

He also tackled wide receiver Mel Long from behind at the Marshall 9 after an 87-yard pass play. Marshall held, forcing Todd France’s 20-yard field goal.

”We preach to our guys on defense to run to the ball, and that was a great play on his part,” Pruett said.

Toledo’s Chester Taylor, the conference’s No. 3 rusher, was limited to two carries because of a sore ankle and two backups were ineffective.

That forced Bolden to the air. With seven Toledo drives beginning from inside the 20, Bolden amassed 344 yards on 27-of-53 passing.

”I think we’ve found a quarterback,” Pinkel said. ”This young man’s got some potential.”

Despite Bolden’s effort, the Rockets were limited to field goals twice inside the Marshall 20.

Two of Marshall’s four first-half scoring drives took less than 30 seconds.

Hines intercepted Bolden’s pass at the Toledo 44 in the first quarter and Pennington hit David Foye four plays later with a 8-yard pass to open the scoring.

Early in the second quarter, Pennington and Williams combined on a 25-yard pass play for a 14-3 lead, set up by a 31-yard pass to Nate Poole, who had eight catches for 158 yards.

Toledo’s only touchdown came in the second quarter after Marshall was called for roughing the quarterback. On the next play, Bolden hit Lyle Green on a 4-yard pass to cut the deficit to 21-10.