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Offline nickgyp

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Xavier-Marshall article
« on: September 27, 2021, 04:54:44 AM »
Came upon this article in local Cincinnati newspaper. The article recalls the tragedy of the plane crash that took so many young Marshall players; and the miracle finish that gave the Thundering Herd a win over the Muskies. This occurred when Xavier football was in a downward spiral; one  that eventually led to the decision to drop the sport in 1973. The loss had to have been hard on the Xavier players; but, as the article points, maybe it was just meant to be.

Kudos to the Xavier football alums who made it to Marshall to share in this ceremony. As much as I bemoan the fact Xavier dropped football, the loss pales in comparison to the tragic loss of life that Marshall experienced.

It was meant to be.' Xavier football remembers post-plane crash loss at Marshall 50 years ago
Adam Baum
Cincinnati Enquirer

A ceremony was held on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Marshall University's first win following the 1970 plane crash that killed nearly its entire football team. The Thundering Herd beat Xavier on Sept. 25, 1971. Several former Musketeers attended the ceremony on Sept. 18.
Teams that have success are often remembered for it. Even long after the competition ends, that success seems to follow them wherever they go.

Some, though, are remembered for the other side. Just like a memorable championship, one loss ? under the right circumstances ? can follow a team forever.

Fifty years ago today, a game like that was played. And the circumstances surrounding that meeting in Huntington, West Virginia, are unrivaled.

A year prior, on Nov. 14, 1970, nearly the entire Marshall University football team was killed when their chartered jet, returning home from a loss at East Carolina, crashed into a hillside just outside the Tri-State Airport near Huntington.

All 75 people on board were killed.

Instead of suspending the following season, Marshall was able to rebuild a roster and a coaching staff to field a team.

Marshall football returns to the football field
Ten months after the crash, the Thundering Herd welcomed Xavier University to Fairfield Stadium for a game on Sept. 25, 1971.

With eight seconds left in the game, Xavier led 13-9 but Marshall had the ball at the Musketeers' 13-yard line.

"I played almost the entire game," Rich Kase, an inside linebacker for the Musketeers, said. "They pulled me so I was on the sideline. So I'm watching this develop ... I saw the guy come out of the backfield."

Kase saw Terry Gardner, a Marshall freshman, slip out of the backfield for a screen pass.

"I saw him juke one guy, then he walks into the end zone," said Kase. "... And the whole place went wild. No time left ? 15-13, game over."

Fifty years later, the magnitude of that moment isn't lost on those who experienced it.

"I never knew the game would have that much impact," said Matt Chinchar, who played offensive line at Xavier from 1969-73. "It became a movie ('We Are Marshall'). After watching the movie and all that transpired with them ... it was divine intervention. It was meant to be for some healing to take place at the university.

"A loss, God took it and made something good out of it, not necessarily for us, but for that university."

Last weekend, Marshall held a ceremony honoring that win over Xavier, the team's first since the crash. Several Musketeers ? Kase, Chinchar and Mike Sherrett ? returned to Huntington with Mike Barras, a Xavier offensive lineman (1969-73), who spearheaded the effort to be a part of the ceremony.

Former Xavier University offensive lineman, Mike Barras, and Allen Meadows, a former Marshall defensive lineman, were interviewed on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, during a ceremony remembering Marshall's win over Xavier 50 years ago. It was the Thundering Herd's first win following a plane crash that killed most of the team.
Barras is from Appleton, Wisconsin, and when someone asks him how he ended up in Cincinnati, he has a clever answer that serves as a reminder of how much a game five decades ago still means to him.

"Well, the answer was I got a football scholarship to come to Xavier University, but that's not my response," said Barras. "Did you ever see the movie 'We Are Marshall'? Do you remember what team they played at the end in the final sequence? And maybe one person out of 10 would say Xavier, but most of them wouldn't.

"So from that standpoint, if we had won that game, Xavier football would have been just as in the past as it ever was. But since we lost the game, they did make a movie."

Xavier football ended in 1973 season
Xavier dropped its football program following the 1973 season, a decision that still doesn't sit well with former players. But that's also part of why the past remains important for those who put on the pads at Xavier.

"If it wasn't for Mike Barras, I don't know if I would have went (to the ceremony)," said Chinchar, who's kept football a part of his life as a longtime assistant coach at Glenville High School in Cleveland, Ohio. "But he encouraged me and talked to me, and I said, 'You know what? I'm going to go because it's a special moment in history.' And to meet some of the guys we played against."

The game still stings on the Xavier side, but last weekend presented some perspective for the Musketeers.

"A lot of times, jokingly, I tell people, 'Yeah, I played in the 'We Are Marshall' game, and we made history like General Custer did at The Last Stand. We made history by losing a game,'" Kase laughed. "You have a lot of feelings after something like that happens. We didn't win the game, but I had a pretty good career at Xavier. I was captain my senior year. I was MVP on defense. ... I had a great time while I was there. I made great friends.

"I spoke down at this function over the weekend (at Marshall). And I said, 'Listen, I have not gotten over this.'

"We played this game 50 years ago and everybody remembers it. I watch that movie all the time, but I don't watch it from start to finish. I watch it but I know how it ends."

Meeting their competitors, hearing their stories and memories from a lifetime ago was emotional.

"I didn't know what to expect," said Kase. "My wife, Cathy, and I went down. And I thought some of the guys are probably going to give you the needle because they beat us and they weren't supposed to, but they were just as kind as can be. I'm sitting on a panel discussion, next to this defensive lineman for Marshall. We're both 69 years old and he's talking about the game and then all of a sudden tears are coming down. I'm tapping him on the shoulder trying to make him feel better, but we both got caught up in our emotions."

The past is never fully gone. Some may choose to run from it, others choose to embrace it.

Kase, Chinchar and Barras all made the same reference to Marshall and the events that followed that day as they remembered that game ? a phoenix rising from the ashes.

"I'm kind of glad it happened," said Barras. "Because without that, I'm not talking to you.

"... And maybe we rise with the ashes for just a moment anyhow. Or we get a moment in the sun in our senior years."

Offline nickgyp

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Re: Xavier-Marshall article
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2021, 04:08:41 PM »
I have to confess that the last years of Xavier football were tough except for the 1973 campaign when it appeared turned around. I had to smile reading Rick Kase?s comments about that last play when Marshall scored. Kate was a helluva a linebacker who is in Xavier?s Hall of Fame. I have to wonder why he wasn?t on the field at the time. He wasn?t the tallest linebacker but he had a nose for the ball.

Then again, maybe it was just meant to be.  But then again, Villanova dropped football and then resumed it years ago. And last weekend, the Wildcats put up 17 points against no. 6 Penn State at PSU.

And Xavier can?t field a team?

Offline Bruce

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Re: Xavier-Marshall article
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2021, 06:37:58 PM »
Doesn’t seem to be any appetite for football, at any level, D1, D3, Club, etc.

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