No Slipping for Marshall, Moss
Marshall, a perennial NCAA Division I-AA runner-up, imported receiver Randy Moss from Florida State and Eric Kresser from Florida to get over the championship hump this season.
Moss caught nine passes for 220 yards and four touchdowns and Kresser completed 18 of 28 passes for 324 yards and four touchdowns Saturday as the Thundering Herd defeated Montana, 49-29, for the title.
“Marshall has too many weapons,” Montana Coach Mick Dennehy said. “Nobody during the season had an answer for Moss. We didn’t have an answer for Moss today.”
Marshall avenged a 22-20 loss to Montana (14-1) in last year’s championship game, broke the Grizzlies’ 21-game winning streak, and became only the second I-AA team--Georgia Southern was the first in 1989--to win the title with a 15-0 record.
And Marshall, headed to the Division I-A Mid-American Conference next season, finished a more palatable 2-4 in I-AA title games, also winning in 1992. Marshall lost in 1988, 1991, 1993 and 1995.
Second-seeded Marshall, of the Southern Conference, and top-seeded Montana, of the Big Sky, seemed only separated by a couple time zones entering the game at Marshall Stadium. Both teams had drubbed opponents regularly--each had scored 609 points.
But the Thundering Herd quickly asserted superiority.
On the first play, Kresser lofted a ball deep for Moss. Montana cornerback Billy Ivey, about six inches shorter than Moss, could do nothing but hang onto the receiver. He was whistled for interference.
Seven plays later, Moss shielded Ivey from the ball in the end zone for a 19-yard reception and a 7-0 lead.
Moss added a 70-yard touchdown later in the half, taking Kresser’s pass for a 20-0 lead. A play earlier, linebacker Larry McCloud had stripped the ball from Montana quarterback Brian Ah Yat and linebacker John Grace recovered at the Marshall 30, ending a Grizzlies’ drive.
Montana did have one flicker of hope, scoring on 40- and 27-yard field goals just before halftime to cut Marshall’s lead to 23-6.
But Marshall turned to its talented transfers to put it away.
On the second play of the third quarter, Kresser, a senior, read blitz and threw a short pass to Moss.
Moss weaved across the field, down the sideline and broke a tackle at the five for a 54-yard score.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Moss scored on a 28-yard pass.
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