Cato takes blame for loss
HUNTINGTON -- Following Saturday's loss at UAB, Marshall University quarterback Rakeem Cato stood in front of reporters and said something that he hasn't had to say all year.
"It's all on the offense," Cato said as he stared straight forward after the 38-31 defeat.
Marshall was left with a 4-6 season record and is 3-3 in Conference USA with remaining games at home Saturday with Houston (4-6, 3-3) and Nov. 23 at East Carolina (6-4, 5-1). Houston and Marshall meet at noon, Saturday, in Joan C. Edwards Stadium and the game is televised on Charter Sports Southeast (Huntington cable Ch. 68).
Through two-and-a-half quarters Saturday the Marshall offense did not have a sustained drive. The lone touchdown on the board was on a one play drive following a fumble recovery.
It was one of four turnovers created by the Thundering Herd defense, but the offense turned just two of the turnovers into points, and the second came with the Herd already trailing 31-14 at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Cato did not shy away from placing blame on his unit while saying it was one of the best game played by the defense.
"They got turnovers and we just couldn't capitalize on offense," Cato said. "This game's on us. We had plenty of opportunities to score and we didn't."
From the outset, Marshall had plenty of chances to seize hold of the game.
The team received possession on the opening kick for the 15th consecutive game, but followed with a quick three-and-out. It was the seventh straight game in which Marshall has received the opening possession and put up zero points with it.
However, the defense quickly followed with a turnover that led to Remi Watson's 3-yard touchdown run and a 7-0 lead.
Marshall got another chance to put the game away quickly by jumping out to a two-score lead when Keith Baxter intercepted a pass at the Herd's 19-yard line. However, the Herd squandered that chance after coming up short on a 3rd-and-long, and the ensuing punt by Tyler Williams was returned 79 yards for a touchdown to tie the game.
That momentum swing started a string of 31 consecutive points for UAB in which the Herd offense did very little.
When UAB's Austin Brown and Nick Adams connected on a 32-yard score to make it 31-7 with 5:23 left in the third quarter, Marshall's offense had run 44 plays for just 130 yards.
That's less than three yards a play from scrimmage -- not exactly indicative of the second-best passing offense in the nation.
"We were playing too slow in the first half," Marshall wide receiver Tommy Shuler said. "Our tempo was slow and we were thinking too much. In the second half, we just balled out. We knew we had to do something fast. We went out there fighting and we came up close. We just ran out of time."
Just like what time ran out at UAB on Saturday, time is also running out on saving the season for Marshall.
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