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Thursday, August 30
Updated: August 31, 12:22 PM ET
Martin first female to play, score in Division I

Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Ala. -- Ashley Martin became the first woman to play and score in a Division I football game Thursday night, kicking three extra points in three tries for Jacksonville State against Cumberland.

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.

Ashley Martin
Jacksonville State sophomore Ashley Martin kicks her first of three extra points in Thursday's game. This one was in the first quarter.

The standing ovation got louder when she put the ball high through the uprights to give Jacksonville State a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter. Jacksonville State won 72-10.

Martin's kick, made easier by an offsides penalty against Cumberland, landed just short of an adjacent field house. Earlier, starting kicker Steven Lee put his PAT on the roof to cap the first drive.

But that didn't matter. Martin punched the air after the kick and ran to the sidelines, where she was greeted by teammates and coaches who patted her on the helmet.

She made it 21-3 later in the opening period on a low, knuckleball kick. She got a third PAT in the fourth quarter.

After the game, teammates chanted "Ashley! Ashley!" as coach Jack Crowe presented her with the game ball.

"I didn't do a thing, all these guys put all the heart and hard work in it," Martin said.

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. Kathy Klop dressed out for Louisville in 1995 and Katie Hnida for Colorado in 1999, but neither saw action.

In an interview days before the game, Martin wasn't worried about setting any records. "I've got a job to do, and that's what I'm focusing on," she said.

Cumberland already was on the short end of another famed record: The Bulldogs lost 222-0 to Georgia Tech on Oct. 7, 1916, in what remains the most lopsided score in college football history.

Crowe invited Martin to join the team this season after it appeared the Gamecocks needed an extra kicker. She was one of the guys on the sideline -- running out with the team and holding up her red helmet with everyone else during the opening kickoff.

But Martin had an obvious distinction: She was the only Gamecocks player shadowed by network TV crews and news photographers.

Martin won the chance to kick during fall drills, making 20-of-22 PATs during scrimmages.

She also kicked in high school, making 2-of-4 field goals and 79-of-92 extra points. She was selected homecoming queen at East Coweta High School, located southwest of Atlanta, and accepted the crown in her uniform.

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 again in 1996. Mercer won $2 million in a discrimination lawsuit against Duke, which is appealing the amount of the judgment but not the verdict.

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