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Engine incident delays Marshall team plane

From staff reports

A Boeing 727 chartered to carry the Marshall football team from Ceredo, WV, to Greenville, NC, for a game with East Carolina was delayed on the ground Friday after smoke was reported in an engine, according to various reports.

The incident, which forced the evacuation of the plane, prompted recollections of a plane crash on Nov. 14, 1970, that killed 75 people, including most of the Marshall team. That tragedy occurred when the Southern Airways DC-9 carrying the team home from a game at East Carolina plowed into a West Virginia hillside in cold, rainy weather.

Friday's flight took off after a two-hour delay. Excess fuel burning off one of the engines caused the smoke, said Alpa Shah, director of operations for the Tri-State Airport Authority.

News of the problem with the team's aircraft coincides with substantial exposure in film and in the media about events surrounding and subsequent to the deadly crash of more than three and a half decades ago.

"We Are Marshall," a major motion picture about the rebuilding of the Thundering Herd football team after the 1970 crash, will open nationwide on Dec. 22. The movie will have an advance screening this coming Tuesday, the 36th anniversary of the crash, at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, IN.

ECU-TV, East Carolina University's official cable station, on Wednesday televised "Remembering Marshall," a special program delving into poignant memories of the hard-fought contest between ECU and Marshall in then-Ficklen Stadium in 1970 and the tragedy that unfolded in the hours after that game.

Saturday's game between the teams, set for a 1:00 p.m. kickoff, will mark Marshall's first trip to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium as a member of Conference USA. The contest has significant implications in the jockeying for a spot in the C-USA championship game.

A victory will place ECU (4-2), which stands alone in first place in the league's East Division, in position to lock up the division title with a win at Rice on Saturday, Nov. 18. If Marshall (3-2) prevails, it will claim at least a share of the league lead and will stand alone in first place if Southern Miss (3-2) loses at Tulane on Saturday.

An East Carolina win over Marshall combined with a Southern Miss loss to Tulane would guarantee that the Pirates will represent the East in the conference championship game regardless of the outcome of their game at Rice.

©2006 All rights rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. A College Football Hall of Fame press release contributed to this report.

02/23/2007 11:32:55 AM


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