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Herd listens to Pruett’s preaching

The Associated Press

About the last thing Marshall has had problems with over the past few years has been confidence.

Monday, October 30, 2000

About the last thing Marshall has had problems with over the past few years has been confidence.

But with the Thundering Herd at their own 13 and on the wrong end of a 28-24 score with 4 1/2 minutes left at Akron, even the best of teams face doubts.

”That’s what we have been preaching and trying to get our football team to do all year: Stay together and not give up, believe in what you’re doing,” Marshall coach Bob Pruett said. ”And they did.”

Byron Leftwich threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to John Cooper with 26 seconds left to lift the Herd past the Zips 31-28 Saturday night and into the driver’s seat in the Mid-American Conference’s East Division race.

Marshall was aided by a personal-foul penalty when a defender grabbed Leftwich’s face mask, giving the Herd a first down at the Zips 11-yard line.

On second down, Cooper caught the ball at the 10, faked left and cut to his right. He slipped between several Akron defenders to get into the end zone.

Earlier in the game, Cooper and fellow wide receiver Nate Poole dropped passes.

”They came back and made great catches and got us in the end zone,” Pruett said. ”I know they felt bad when they dropped them and it looked bad for us, but it just paid off.”

Akron got the ball back on its 35 but turned the ball over on four incomplete passes.

The win gave Marshall (4-4) the edge in a tiebreaker that determines the East Division champion. Seeking its fourth-straight berth in the title game, Marshall is now 3-0 against East opponents while Akron (4-5) fell to 3-1 in the division.