Chuck Landon: Bobcats ruin Holliday's shot at .500
ATHENS, Ohio — The Bobcats did it to Doc Holliday again.
Every time Marshall’s fourth-year head coach gets ever so enticingly close to leveling his career record at .500, Ohio University knocks Holliday back on the dark side of the ledger.
It happened in 2012 and it happened again Saturday night thanks to Marshall’s 34-31 loss to Ohio before 24,836 fans at Peden Stadium.
Thanks to a 2-0 start in 2013, Holliday’s career record stood at 19-20 coming into the game. A victory over the Bobcats would have evened Holliday’s record for the first time since he was 0-0.
That was the case when he made his debut as Marshall’s head coach against Ohio State in the season opener on Sept. 2, 2010.
He hasn’t had a .500 record since.
So close, but still so far.
After starting 1-6 in 2010, his Herd rebounded to finish 5-7. Then, when Marshall finished 7-6 in 2011 after a 20-10 win over FIU in the Beef ‘0’ Brady’s Bowl, Holliday was on the cusp of a .500 record at 12-13.
But, alas, the opening-season opponent in 2012 was West Virginia University and one Marshall defeat later, Holliday was two games below .500 again. However, a 52-24 win over Western Carolina brought him to the brink again at 13-14.
And who dashed those .500 record hopes?
Yep, Ohio again.
The Bobcats rallied for a 27-24 win in Edwards Stadium and Holliday never has been within a game of .500 since.
Holliday had been waiting 1,107 days for the moment.
He’s still waiting.
FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS: Talk about one less bell to answer.
This was the 13th edition of the “Battle for the Bell” between Marshall and Ohio. Whoever wins the game gets to keep “The Bell” for the next year.
Since Ohio has beaten Marshall for three consecutive seasons, perhaps, the Bobcats deserve the right to retire the trophy. But seriously, folks, Marshall still leads “The Bell” series, 9-4.
However, that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of Marshall’s last three performances in this series.
TURNOVER TOWN: That’s what Marshall fans should start calling Athens.
During Marshall’s last two games here the Herd has committed an unsightly 10 turnovers. That’s right, 10. In a 44-7 loss in 2011, Marshall coughed up the football for six turnovers — four interceptions and two fumbles.
Well, guess what?
Turnovers were the difference again in Marshall’s loss to Ohio on Saturday. Two early fumbles, a fumbled kickoff return that turned into an Ohio touchdown and a late interception of MU quarterback Rakeem Cato doomed Marshall to a third consecutive loss to the Bobcats.
And what is the turnover differential in those three straight defeats?
Marshall has committed 13, while Ohio has made only three.
Searching for the reason for MU’s three-game losing streak to the Bobcats?
Look no further.
CHECK THE CALENDAR: Marshall hasn’t played often on Sept. 14, but that date had been kind to the Herd.
In 1996, Marshall throttled West Virginia State, 42-7, on Sept. 14 during its undefeated run to the NCAA Division I-AA national championship. Then, in 1991, the Herd routed Morehead State, 70-11, on that date.
This wasn’t the first time Marshall played Ohio on Sept. 14, either. Back in 1985, the Herd handily defeated the Bobcats, 31-7.
Until Marshall lost to Ohio here Saturday night, the last time Marshall had been defeated on Sept. 14 was in 1974, as MU fell to Morehead State, 12-14, in the season opener of an eventual one-win year.
And here’s some real Sept. 14 trivia, courtesy of Herdhaven.com. The first time Marshall played a football game after a Friday the 13th was Nov. 14, 1903. The Herd defeated a Huntington semi-pro team, 11-5.
The Herd wasn’t nearly that lucky this time.
NOT HERE: Some notable players didn’t make the trip to Athens. The list included running back Remi Watson, defensive end Armonze Daniel, linebacker Deon Meadows, defensive end Joe Massaqoi, defensive tackle Ken Smith and defensive tackle Brandon Sparrow, who was sidelined with an ankle injury.
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