When Xavier sophomore Richard Kase walked into the Marshall University stadium in Huntington, W. Va., in 1971, an eerie feeling overtook him. Inside were numerous memorials commemorating the plane crash that killed 75 members of Marshall’s football team months earlier, and this game marked the first for Marshall since the crash. The school recruited walk-ons, transfers—nearly anyone who could wear a uniform—and they quickly earned the nickname the Young Thundering Herd. So, it came as quite a surprise when Marshall defeated Xavier, 15-13, in the game’s final seconds.
“They marched down to inside our five-yard-line and it was an unusual play that won the game for them,” says Kase, a linebacker who was pulled at the last second only to watch his team lose from the sidelines. Despite his disappointment, Kase now has a new perspective on the game.
“I look at it as that was supposed to happen,” he says. “Once again, fate was in their hands. They won, and it turned their program around. It showed they could come back from such a horrible tragedy, and it instilled in them that the program can survive.”
That historic game is now an integral part of the movie, “We Are Marshall,” due to open in December. The movie’s producers called Xavier for help with matching uniforms and other details from that era, and even interviewed former Xavier players for the bonus features of the DVD.