Devin Johnson catches pass at Marshall v. Purdue game.

Richard Crank

Devin Johnson catches pass at Marshall v. Purdue game.

With the exception of those who engaged in a Tom Hanks Cast Away-style adventure over Labor Day weekend, the entire Herd nation is aware of the football team’s 41-31 triumph Sunday against Purdue University.

The win marked the first time in school history Marshall defeated a Power Five conference team at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

“It was great for us to have an opportunity to have a Big Ten team here for the first time in the history of the school,” head coach Doc Holliday said. “And to walk out of here with a win made it even more special.”

Holliday said the win is just another validation for Marshall’s program.

“We beat Louisville, we beat Maryland in the bowl game and now we beat Purdue here,” Holiday said. “So, I think we’ve proved we can play with the Power Five teams.”

“So, I think we’ve proved we can play with the Power Five teams.”

— Doc Holliday

The victory over Purdue was a significant one regarding the continued development of the program’s pedigree, and the following are the players and events of the game that made it possible.

MVP: Tiquan Lang, Safety

Lang essentially ended the game exactly how he started it: with a pick six.

In between, the junior safety racked up a game-high 17 tackles, logged another interception that was nullified by a pass interference penalty on cornerback Rodney Allen and delivered a hit on Purdue quarterback Austin Appleby causing yet another interception.

Lang showcased his playmaking ability on the first play from scrimmage, intercepting an errant Appleby pass and subsequently taking it 30 yards to the house.

Then, with just over a minute to left in the game and the Herd clinging to a 34-31 lead, Lang eclipsed a sequel performance that bested that of the original, jumping a pass over the middle and dodging would-be tacklers for a 55-yard, game-clinching pick six.

Most Outstanding Offensive Player: Michael Birdsong, Quarterback

In his debut start for Marshall, Birdsong delivered an admirable performance, completing 23-36 passes for 234 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Birdsong also compiled 43 yards on the ground and was sacked twice, one of which resulted in a fumble.

However, Birdsong’s most noteworthy aspect from Sunday was derived not from numbers but from situation and circumstances.

Birdsong credited offensive coordinator’s Bill Legg’s play calling on the drive as well as the team’s overall execution, but said it was the intangible component of the game that attains victory in such situations.

Most Outstanding Defensive Player: Gary Thompson, Defensive End 

The redshirt junior did not induce an uproar from the crowd as Lang did on the first play from scrimmage. In fact, he wasn’t even on the field after losing out on the right to start at defensive end in the offseason.

However, upon his entrance into the game as part of the defensive end rotation, Thompson ensured he would not be overlooked for long with his explosiveness as a pass rusher causing headaches for Purdue’s tackles and inflicting bruises on Appleby. Thompson collected 10 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss a sack and three quarterback hits.

“Coach has been challenging me to continue to come with energy,” Thompson said. “In the second half, something just kicked in me, and I started just going.”