Frohnapfel makes most of opportunity
GREENVILLE, N.C. -- Marshall redshirt freshman quarterback Blake Frohnapfel waited patiently all season to prove what he can do in a meaningful situation.
On Friday afternoon, he got that chance in the most pressure-packed of circumstances.
And he excelled.
After Marshall starter Rakeem Cato went down with a knee injury, Frohnapfel came in and went 12 of 15 passing for 101 yards, a touchdown and an interception while adding a 51-yard scoring run to give the Thundering Herd a fourth-quarter lead before East Carolina pulled out a 65-59 victory in double overtime.
"When the opportunity comes, you have to make the most of it," Frohnapfel said. "Earlier in the year, it would be mop-up duty or one play against Tulsa and that's all I really had. This was a chance to go in play and help the team."
Frohnapfel led the offense seamlessly in the last quarter-plus in place of Cato.
Cato attempted to make a last-ditch effort to come back at the start of the fourth quarter after Frohnapfel led the team inside the ECU10-yard line, but his third-down pass fell incomplete and Marshall settled for a 24-yard field goal from Justin Haig to cut the deficit to 42-38.
From there, it was Frohnapfel's game and he proved his capabilities immediately.
After Marshall forced a punt, Frohnapfel led the Herd on an 80-yard drive in just five plays with his own 51-yard quarterback keeper on a zone-read providing the score that gave Marshall its first lead at 45-42 with 11:12 left in the game.
Frohnapfel joked about the play that even fooled the CBS Sports Network camera crew, who was focused in on running back Essray Taliaferro until Frohnapfel was already passing the 15-yard line.
"There's no way that big kid is running it. We know it," Frohnapfel said of the television crew's thoughts. "It's a read-option play. They all started chasing the running back. I figured someone would tackle me and no one came. ... I almost fell three times on the way."
Despite his jokes, Marshall coach Doc Holliday said it's all part of the dimension Frohnapfel brings to the offense.
"We have to play him more," Holliday said. "He's an excellent player, a great kid, and there's no reason he can't go in and play because he brings his legs into that offense. You saw what he did out there today."
Following his 51-yard touchdown run, East Carolina tied the game, 45-45, on a field goal with 7:16 remaining.
Frohnapfel followed with what could be argued as one of Marshall's best drives of the season in terms of executing what they set out to do.
He led the Herd on a 15-play, 75-yard drive that chewed up 5:21 of clock, ending with Taliaferro's 1-yard run with 1:55 left.
It appeared that would be the game-clinching drive, save for the Pirates' late heroics.
Nevertheless, Frohnapfel showed that Marshall has two solid quarterbacks in its arsenal, and Holliday was not the only one impressed.
Perhaps the biggest praise came from Cato following the game.
"One thing about Fro, he goes hard to the max out," Cato said. "He pushes me all day in practice, in the weight room, off the field, on the field. I have no concerns, no doubts about him getting in a game and taking over."
Frohnapfel deflected the credit for the effort to his teammates, who rallied around him to aid the difficult situation.
"My teammates did a great job -- my other captains -- of keeping me calm because that's the first real action I've had," Frohnapfel said. "I thought they did a good job of keeping me level-headed."
While the double-overtime loss signaled the end of Marshall's 2012 season, one thing was learned Friday afternoon.
The future of the Herd offense is in great hands, no matter whether those hands are Cato's or Frohnapfel's.