Chuck Landon: Marshall lets its fans down once again
ATHENS, Ohio — The thrill couldn’t be any more gone if B.B. King had sang the National Anthem.
The euphoria that had spread through the width and breath of the Herd Universe came to a screeching halt here Saturday night.
The ecstasy over Marshall’s offense starting a season with a pair of 50-point plus outbursts?
Sobered by a sea of fumbles.
The jubilation of Marshall’s defense shutting out its first two opponents for six consecutive quarters?
Subdued by such mistakes as leaving a slot receiver completely uncovered for a 21-yard gain.
The elation of Marshall’s special teams producing touchback after touchback and excelling in general?
Sombered by an inconceivable fumble on a kickoff return resulting in a gift touchdown for the opposition.
All those feelings of hopeful optimism and encouragement that were coursing through the Marshall faithful dissipated one by one during a 34-31 loss to Ohio here Saturday night before 24,836 fans in Peden Stadium.
The fans and the Herd both fell with a thud.
And the fact that it came at the hands of Ohio — of all rivals — for the third consecutive season added a huge dose of insult to that injury.
This was a very, very bad loss.
That’s because for the second straight year this was a linch-pin game for Marshall.
A year ago, the Herd needed a win over Ohio in the friendly confines of Edwards Stadium to set a tone for a season that would hinge on success at home. Instead, a 27-24 loss to the Bobcats set a negative tone that ultimately included two more home losses to Tulsa and UCF.
The Ohio loss and the 3-3 home record it led to doomed Marshall to a disappointing 5-7 season.
Well, here we go again.
This Ohio contest also was a linch-pin game because it was Marshall’s first away game in a season that will hinge on success on the road.
That means Ohio pulled the linch-pin again here Saturday night.
I mean, Marshall not being able to defeat their nearby rival for an embarrassing third consecutive season doesn’t exactly inspire much confidence with a trip to Blacksburg, Va., and a date with Virginia Tech looming next Saturday.
And don’t forget the other two key road games that punctuate Marshall’s 2013 schedule. There’s the Thursday night matchup against Middle Tennessee State on Oct. 24 in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Then, there’s another big Thursday night road game against Tulsa on Nov. 14.
If the Herd can’t beat Ohio after circling this game in red, after players and coaches alike admitted it was the first test of this season and after openly talking about regaining “The Bell,” then it is very difficult to feel optimistic about the other three crucial road games.
That’s the ramifications of this terrible loss.
And make no mistake, it was terrible. That’s because it was an embarrassment. Marshall shouldn’t be losing to the likes of Ohio very often. But losing to the Bobcats for three consecutive seasons?
That is simply unacceptable.
Ohio isn’t on Marshall’s par in talent, facilities or resources. So, why should the Herd ever lose to the Bobcats other than in an occasional upset?
Everyone knows the answer to that question.
Yet, now the Herd has succumbed for a humiliating third consecutive season. Three losses in a row for the first time since 1973-74-75.
There is no joy in Huntington.
Marshall has dashed the city’s hopes again.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at email@example.com.
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