FIRST female to play in Division I college football games goes 3-for-3 in extra-point kicks

Friday, August 31st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

JACKSONVILLE, Ala. (AP) _ Ashley Martin became the first female to play in a Division I football game, kicking three extra points without a miss to help Jacksonville State hand Cumberland its 18th straight loss.

Teammates chanted ``Ashley, Ashley!'' in the locker room after Thursday night's game as coach Jack Crowe presented her with the game ball after the Gamecocks' 71-10 victory.

``I didn't do a thing,'' said the 5-foot-11, 160-pound Martin. ``All these guys put all the heart and hard work in it.''

A huge cheer went up from the crowd of 11,312 as Martin ran on the field for the first time for Division I-AA Jacksonville State, her brown ponytail dangling down her back. The standing ovation got louder when she put the ball through the uprights to give Jacksonville State a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

Martin's kick landed just short of an adjacent field house. Earlier, starting kicker Steven Lee put his point-after on the roof to cap the first drive.

Martin, who also plays for Jacksonville State's women's soccer team, added two more extra points in the first and fourth quarters with room to spare.

The NCAA doesn't keep such records, but Martin by all counts was the first female to play in Division I.

At least two other women have suited up in Division I games without playing, in 1995 and 1999.

The only woman to previously score in a college football game was Liz Heaston, who kicked two extra points for then-NAIA Williamette University in 1997.

The most famous attempt to break the Division I gender barrier came at Duke, where Heather Sue Mercer was cut from the team in 1995 and in 1996. Mercer won $2 million in a discrimination lawsuit against Duke, which is appealing the amount of the judgment but not the verdict.

For Cumberland, Thursday night's loss by 61 points wasn't even close to its record drubbing. The Bulldogs lost 222-0 to Georgia Tech on Oct. 7, 1916, in what remains the most lopsided score in college football history.