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Turnover bug biting Herd, especially in road contests

Nov. 20, 2013 @ 11:49 PM

HUNTINGTON -- There is a common denominator associated with Marshall University and the road struggles of the Thundering Herd football team.

It boils down to taking care of the football.

In five road games this season Marshall has tallied 15 interceptions, which has led to a minus-8 turnover margin.

Those turnover issues came to the forefront last week when Marshall committed five turnovers, including four second half fumbles, during the Herd's 45-34 come-from-behind win at Tulsa.

The first turnover occurred with Marshall leading 21-0 and inside the Tulsa 10-yard line when quarterback Rakeem Cato was intercepted as the Herd looked to take a commanding lead.

Marshall led 31-14 at halftime before the four second-half fumbles led to 20 consecutive Tulsa points that resulted in Marshall facing a 34-31 deficit.

"We have to take care of the football," Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. "If we'd taken care of the football there wouldn't have been an issue last week at all."

While the Herd was able to come back from the deficit by showing better poise late, it was a game that should have never been in that type of position -- and wouldn't have if the Herd had taken care of the football.

Marshall amassed 619 yards on 103 offensive plays and would've likely had many more yards and points without the influx of mistakes.

The same can be said of many other contests in which the Herd literally gave the game away.

In each of the Herd's first two losses against Ohio and Virginia Tech, Marshall made crucial mistakes at critical times.

Against the Ohio Bobcats, Marshall lost three fumbles, including one on a kickoff return that resulted in a touchdown, while also throwing a fourth-quarter interception on a drive when the Herd could've tied the game late. The Herd ended up losing 34-31.

The very next week, Marshall played brilliantly early in the game, scoring 21 points on Virginia Tech in the first 21 minutes of action, but then turnovers once again crept into the mix and the Herd struggled the rest of the game, losing possession on three occasions while producing zero points.

FAMILIAR VENUE: For Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato and wide receiver Tommy Shuler, the atmosphere will be familiar Saturday evening when the Herd plays FIU in Miami.

It isn't just because they are back in their hometown, either.

Cato and Shuler team at Miami Central High School played against Miami Northwestern, formerly led by University of Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, in a 2010 game that was billed the "Class 6A state championship" despite its regular-season date.

Cato engineered a late drive to give Central the 25-22 win at Alfonso Field before leading the team to the Class 6A state championship in Florida.

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