Marshall vs. East Carolina moved up to Week Zero to honor victims of 1970 plane crash
Seventy-five people lost their lives in 1970 returning to Huntington from Marshall's game vs. East Carolina
Marshall's game vs. East Carolina, originally scheduled for Sept. 5 in Greenville, North Carolina, has been moved to Aug. 29 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium as a feature game in Week Zero. The game will honor the the 50th anniversary of the airplane crash on Nov. 14, 1970, that resulted in the deaths of 37 Marshall players, eight coaches including head coach Rick Tolley, 25 boosters and five crew members.
Marshall was returning home from a trip to ECU when its airplane descended at a rapid pace and clipped trees on approach to the Tri-State Airport in Huntington, West Virginia. Marshall and East Carolina were rivals in Conference USA's East division for nine years from 2005-13. East Carolina left to join the American Athletic Conference starting with the 2014 season. They have not met since Marshall topped East Carolina 59-28 in the regular season finale in Huntington in 2013.
"There is a special bond and indomitable spirit that exists between our communities, universities and football programs," ECU athletic director Jon Gilbert said in a statement. "This opportunity will allow us to properly pay our respect to those we tragically lost 50 years ago and share our enduring support for Marshall University with the rest of the country. "I appreciate [Marshall athletic director] Mike Hamrick and Marshall University for being great partners in this process as the move allows both schools to have a marquee national broadcast spot on the football calendar to open the 2020 season."
The matchup will be the first of a four-game series between the two schools. The Thundering Herd and Pirates will meet in 2021 and 2025 in Huntington, and 2023 in Greenville.
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