Weber State took an early 3-0 lead against Boston College in the 2010 season opener for both teams on Saturday, but the rest of the way, the Eagles dominated their FCS opponent and went on to win, 38-20.
BC took a 31-10 lead into the half and never looked back. Quarterback Dave Shinskie rebounded after throwing an interception on his first attempt and finished 10-of-20 with 187 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Running back Montel Harris helped pace the offense with 115 yards on 19 carries and a score.
The game was highlighted by the return of linebacker Mark Herzlich, who led the Eagles onto the field. Herzlich missed all of 2009 while he (successfully) battles Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form cancer.
He was involved in a pair of tackles late in the opening quarter, and played sparingly in his first game since Dec. 31, 2008.
Herzlich ran out about 10 yards in front of the rest of the team, then paused, took off his helmet, looked up toward the student section, spread his arms wide and listened as the crowd roared.
He started at linebacker Saturday against Weber State, and while he playing time in the first half has been limited, his impact has been felt throughout the entire stadium. Because roughly 16 months ago, Herzlich announced he had been diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of cancer.
It occurs in just one out of 600,000 people -- in which the cancer invades the bone, or soft tissue, typically in the pelvis or thigh. Indeed, it had made its home in Herzlich's left femur, where a tumor was found, and determined it was cancerous.
He sat out the 2009 season so he could fight disease, undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and having a 12-inch titanium rod inserted in his weakened left leg. But he won his battles, announcing last fall that he was cancer free.
His return, which was even further delayed this summer with a stress fracture in his right foot, came Saturday in Chestnut Hill, in front of a group of family and friends 75-people strong will be in the stands.
Before hand, his father predicted how he'd respond, saying, "I'll be a mess."
You probably already know his story, because it has been told before.
But it can be told again. It should be told again. Because Mark Herzlich squared-off against cancer, and came away with the W.
This is Mark Herzlich.
It's the offseason following the 2008 season. B.C. struggled to a 9-5 record, including a loss to Vanderbilt in the Music City Bowl. If there was a bright spot, it was Herzlich. He was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year after leading the team in tackles, interceptions -- remember, he's a linebacker -- pass break-ups and forced fumbles. Rivals named him a First Team All-America.
It was the type of year that made him nationally known, and would make the perfect springboard to become one of the nation's best the next year. Only, the next year never happened.
On May 14, 2009, Mark Herzlich announced to the world that he had been diagnosed with cancer.
"This past week, I got some news nobody wants to hear. After undergoing some tests to determine the cause of some pain I had been experiencing in my leg, I learned that I have Ewing's Sarcoma."
Ewing's Sarcoma is a rare disease -- it occurs in just one out of 600,000 people -- in which the cancer invades the bone, or soft tissue, typically in the pelvis or thing. Indeed, it had made its home in Herzlich's left femur, where a tumor was found, and determined it was cancerous.
"Obviously, I was shocked. I had been extremely focused on preparing for my senior season at Boston College and for life beyond that. Now, I must channel all that energy into facing my toughest opponent yet, and that is exactly what I will do.
Herzlich began months of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. He had a 12-inch rod titanium rod inserted in his weakened left leg.
A little more than four months after he announced he had been diagnosed with with cancer, Mark Herzlich was able to make another announcement on Sept. 29: he was cancer free. He had won his fight.
Radiation razed the hairs across Herzlich's body. There is a scar by the hip where the metal rod was inserted. Single strands dot the left thigh now, but the smooth surface resembles a fresh waxing. One strip of bristles remains along the quad. His curly locks regenerated blonder and straighter. His beard, a facial fixture since 10th grade, no longer grows in fully, a casualty to the cancer cells.
Herzlich underwent an MRI in February, and a CT scan on his chest, and in his first three-month checkup, the results came back clean -- he was cancer-free.
Having been cleared to play, Herzlich showed up the first day of the Eagles' summer training camp ... only to be dealt more bad news. He had a broken bone in his right foot. Because life is cruel and shows no mercy, even to cancer survivors.
He finally made his way onto the practice field a week ago. He was in full pads on Tuesday. And then early Saturday morning came the news everyone had been waiting for. Hoping for.
Mark Herlizch, nearly 16 months after learning he had cancer, will start at linebacker for Boston College.
A group of family and friends 75-people strong will be in the stands in Chestnut Hill on Saturday.
How will his parents react?
Sandy, the father: "I'll be a mess."
Barbara, the mother: "Not a pretty sight, most likely."