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August 26, 2018

This scenario comes so completely out of nowhere, it’s very difficult to believe.

Yet, it’s true.

There actually is a player in Marshall’s football program that went head-to-head against Alex Thomson in a college football game and out-played the Herd’s new graduate transfer quarterback.

It’s true.

And nobody ever would or could guess his identity.

It’s Tyler Brown.

The same Tyler Brown who is a 6-foot-2, 230-pound redshirt junior linebacker at Marshall? The same Brown who plays mostly on special teams? The same Brown who is from nearby Spring Valley High School?

One and the same.

Local prep fans will remember Brown as a record-setting quarterback for Spring Valley, who started his collegiate career at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.

That sets the stage.

It was probably the fifth or sixth game my true freshman year — just out of high school,” remembered Brown, after a recent Marshall preseason practice. “I was the second-string quarterback. It was an away game in New York against Wagner.

“Actually, I didn’t start. But the first play of the game our quarterback separated his shoulder or something. So, I went in. I was a true freshman, so that was the first college experience I’d ever had. Then, I played the rest of the game — the entire game.”

It was Brown vs. Thomson as opposing quarterbacks and they both lost to Mother Nature that day.

“It was raining and there were like 30 to 40 mile per hour winds,” said Brown. “It was crazy. It was like a hurricane was coming in. I mean, it was hailing, raining, windy. ... it was awful conditions.

“I think the final score was 9-6, in favor of us. Both teams only scored on field goals. All three of our field goals came from around the 10-yard line. We couldn’t get it in the end zone, but we got it down to the 10-yard line and kicked three field goals.”

So, how did Thomson do that day?

“Oh, honestly I don’t remember,” said Brown. “It was all a blur. I’ve played so much football since then and I really, like, didn’t know him then. So, I wasn’t looking out for him. I was more worried about the defense.”

For the record, Brown outplayed Thomson that day, completing six of 13 passes for 79 yards with an interception and also rushing for 53 yards on 10 carries. Thomson was 6-for-14 passing for 45 yards and had negative rushing yardage because of sacks.

Honestly, Brown hadn’t thought much about those days. Until, of course, Thomson arrived at Marshall.

“Oh, yeah, I started thinking about it then,” said Brown with a wicked grin. “Hey, I’m playing linebacker now and I beat this guy as a quarterback. It has been funny.

“One of the first days he got here, I was messing with him about that. He said, ‘I really don’t remember.’ So, I kept on about it. I said, ‘Man, didn’t we play against each other one time?’ He didn’t know who I was. And I said, ‘Yeah, I got my first start at quarterback against you. It was with Robert Morris, up at your place, we won, 9-6.’

“I was just messing with him. That is how I introduced myself.”

Brown had to make the most of this truly unique opportunity.

“That has kind of sparked a little relationship between us,” said Brown. “We are buds now. So, it’s good.”

What a tale.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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