Thundering Herd first team dominates backups

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 13, 2003

From Marshall Sports Information

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - If the Marshall football team proved anything in the annual Green-White game at Marshall Stadium Saturday it was that the first team has a wide advantage over the backups.

The Herd starting unit marched the ball up and down the field at will against the backups in the final practice of the spring in front of an estimated crowd of 6,500. The majority of the scoring for the White team came at the insistence of head coach Bob Pruett, who spotted the backups points virtually every time the starters scored.

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And the starters scored often, while only three of the White's 41 points came without a call to the pressbox from Pruett.

The scrimmage lasted just over one half, with each unit getting a pair of second half possessions with a running clock.

There were the expected highlights in the session, like receivers Darius Watts and Josh Davis making big plays, but there were also pleasant surprises.

The most eye-opening offensive performance was turned in by junior college transfer Earl Charles, who rushed four times for 34 yards and a score, and hauled in a screen pass and took it 82 yards for another touchdown.

Junior quarterback Stan Hill took most of the snaps for the Green team, completing 10 of 13 passes for 186 yards and two scores. Hill was intercepted once, by redshirt freshman Dane Holland. Junior Graham Gochneaur also saw action with the first unit, hitting on two of eight passes for 64 yards.

Butchie Wallace was the leading ground-gainer on the day, carrying the ball six times for 69 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

The White team had a little more difficult time moving the ball against the first defense. Redshirt freshmen quarterbacks Adam Black and Jimmy Skinner combined to complete five of 13 passes for 40 yards. Tank Tunstalle was the leading rusher and receiver with 68 yards on eight carries and 21 yards on a pair of receptions.

Defensive standouts for the Green team included linebacker Kevin Atkins with four tackles, including a sack. A trio of defensive linemen - Paul Sinclair, Jonathan Goddard and Reggie Hayes - had three tackles each. Goddard, and Sinclair had two sacks each while Hayes had one.

For the White team Carlos Morgan led the way with three tackles along with Damarcus Thomas and Lonnie McCowan. Renaldo Williams had the lone sack for the White squad while Holland had two tackles, an interception and a pass broken up.

On special teams, senior Ben Lewis was two of three on field goals, hitting from 20 and 41 yards. His attempt from 26 yards was blocked by Sinclair and returned 84 yards for a touchdown by Willie Smith.

Lewis was good on all five PAT kicks and averaged 49.5 yards on four punts.

One of the loudest cheers during the game came during a break in the action when former Herd quarterback Byron Leftwich showed the crowd that he was completely healed from his leg injury by sprinting across the field from the home sideline to the visiting sideline.

Following the conclusion of the game, several Herd players were recognized for their improvement during the 15 practice sessions. Offensive recognition went to quarterback Stan Hill, tight end Jason Rader, receiver Jason Schroeder and lineman Seth Cook. Defensive recognition went to linebacker Kevin Atkins, defensive back Willie Smith and defensive end Marcus Hairston.

The Herd concluded spring drills without suffering any major injuries, although several players sat out the spring game with minor ailments.

Marshall will open the 2003 football season on August 30 against Hofstra at Marshall Stadium.