Western Michigan Ends Marshall's Home Winning Streak

Updated 10/5/2000
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    Marshall defensive end Paul Toviessi, right, chases Western Michigan quarterback Jeff Welsh.
    (AP Photo/The Herald-Dispatch, Randy Snyder)

    AP Sports Writer

    HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) - Unlike last December, Marshall had no furious comeback against Western Michigan. Now the Herd's home winning streak of 33 games - the longest in Division I-A - is over.

    Robert Sanford rushed for 203 yards and a three second-half touchdowns to lead Western Michigan to a 30-10 victory over Marshall on Oct. 5.

    The Broncos (5-1, 3-0 Mid-American) avenged a 34-30 loss to Marshall in last year's conference championship game in Huntington.

    Marshall (2-3, 1-1) had not lost at home since the Division I-AA championship game in 1995 against Montana. The Herd rejoined Division I-A in 1997.

    Top-ranked Florida State now has Division I-A's longest home and overall winning streaks at 31 and 15 games.

    In last year's MAC championship game in Huntington, Western Michigan blew a 23-point lead in the second half and lost on Chad Pennington's 1-yard TD toss with four seconds left.

    Marshall tried to work another miracle.

    Down 24-7, an 11-yard punt gave Marshall the ball at the Western 26. Byron Leftwich then hit Nate Poole with a 10-yard TD pass with 7:14 left.

    A minute later, Marshall's Larry Davis picked up Sanford's fumble and returned to the Western 38, but Lanier Washington dropped his second pass of the game at the goal line and Leftwich's next pass was intercepted in the end zone on the following play.

    Western then drove the length of the field, with Sanford scoring on a 39-yard run.

    Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich scrambles out of the pocket.
    (AP Photo/The Herald-Dispatch, Randy Snyder)

    Marshall outgained the Broncos 414-407, but the Herd turned the ball over three times on downs in Western Michigan territory, twice inside the 10.

    A week after throwing for a career-high 378 yards against Buffalo, Leftwich was 19-of-40 for 264 yards.

    Under constant pressure behind a banged-up offensive line, Leftwich missed 11 of his first 15 passes, many on overthrows and drops.

    Marshall's three points in the first half were its fewest this season.

    On Western's opening drive, Jeff Welsh threw toward Corey Alston in double coverage. Chris Crocker intercepted at the Marshall 30 and returned to the Western 42.

    On the next play, Washington dropped a pass at the 2 and Marshall settled for J.R. Jenkins' 26-yard field goal.

    Welsh then drove the Broncos 80 yards in five plays, capped by his 8-yard TD toss to Steve Neal, who became the second MAC player with 200 career receptions.

    Sanford also had a pair of 1-yard TD runs. A 45-yard punt return by Josh Bush set up his first TD for a 14-3 lead midway through the third quarter.

    After Brad Selent kicked a 32-yard field goal, Sanford's second TD early in the fourth quarter gave the Broncos a 24-3 lead.

    Marshall coach Bob Pruett was so frustrated over his running game that he sent in third-string running back Gladstone Coke to start the second half. Marshall finished with 90 yards rushing, the third time it has been held under 100 yards this season.

    Marshall and Western could end up playing again for the conference title in December in Huntington. The two teams are determined by wins against teams within the division. Western is in the West Division and Marshall is in the East.