This game was too close for comfort for many Mountaineer fans, but was nevertheless a very exciting game.
Marshall was without a doubt the best it had ever been going into their inaugural Divsion I-A season and restarting a dormant rivalry added fuel to their fire.
The West Virginia ground attack played a starring role in the game in the first half with “Famous” Amos Zereoue rushing for two touchdowns (including a 51-yard rush at the end of the first quarter) and Curtis Keaton grabbing another. Add that to an early punt return TD, give the Mountaineers a 28-3 lead with 10:51 left in the second quarter.
Towards the close of the half, Herd QB Chad Pennington tossed a touchdown pass to LaVorn Colclough to grab some much needed momentum going into the locker room with the Mountaineers up 28-10.
A 53-yard touchdown run by Marshall’s Llow Turner was sandwiched in between a couple of Pennington-Randy Moss touchdowns and all of a sudden, WVU’s down to this upstart program, 31-28, with 15:35 left to play.
After a Nate Terry interception, Mountaineer QB Marc Bulger tossed a touchdown pass to Chad Wable (prominently featured in the video above) to put West Virginia up for good, 35-31.
Another Terry interception led to a Zereoue rushing touchdown to give the Mountaineers the final advantage of 42-31.
It was a game that was on the verge of disaster for the West Virginia faithful, but you can’t deny that it was one of the most exciting football games of the Don Nehlen era.
“We went from an excitable football team to a team that was just like, ‘uhh.’”
-Don Nehlen, Aug. 30, 1997
In 1997, Marshall ended up going 10-2 in the regular season—losing only to Miami of Ohio—and clinching their first MAC title. The Herd lost to Ole Miss 34-31 in the Motor City Bowl.