Shuler's big night ends in frustration
HUNTINGTON — Marshall wide receiver Tommy Shuler had a career night, but left Joan C. Edwards Stadium feeling rather empty.
The sophomore from Miami, who switched from jersey No. 17 to No. 1, caught 13 passes for 121 yards — both personal bests in the “Battle for the Bell” game against rival Ohio University.
What ruined the night was Ohio linebacker Jelani Woseley’s interception with 20 seconds left to thwart a potential game-tying or game-winning march for Marshall and preserve a 27-24 victory for the Bobcats.
“It hurts. We’re all hurting down there,” Shuler said of the feeling in the Thundering Herd locker room. “We can’t hang our head, though. The guy made a good play. We left it all on the field.”
Shuler and Herd quarterback Rakeem Cato were on the same page right from the outset. Shuler had five catches in the first period and Marshall scored on its first two possessions for a 14-0 lead. Shuler snagged three passes in the second period, four in the third and one in the fourth.
Cato completed 44 of 65 attempts for 432 yards and three scores, but the final interception is the play that will haunt him and the Herd as they try to regroup for next week’s C-USA opener at Rice.
“There were holes out there,” Shuler said. “He just found me. You have to watch all of us and consider everyone on the field as dangerous.”
Herd coach Doc Holliday said Shuler is more than capable.
“He makes plays,” Holliday said. “It’s also the call and throwing the ball where you’re supposed to.”
Shuler said the final numbers kind of took him by surprise.
“It’s a great feeling to have that kind of night, but I didn’t expect to catch that many,” he said. “It felt like pitch and catch. We played like it was another game, go hard. He just found me a lot.”
Shuler is the first Herd play to have double-digit receptions since Antavious Wilson caught 13 for 153 yards against Southern Miss on Nov. 14, 2009. Only four players have caught more passes in school history — David Foye, 15 vs. Kent State, 2000; Denero Marritt, 15 vs. East Carolina, 2001; Josh Davis, 15 vs. Akron, 2004; and Mike Barber, 14 vs. Western Carolina, 1987.
Ohio took the lead for good on Matt Weller’s 38-yard field goal with 1:37 left. The Bobcats took advantage of a Herd fumble to get in position for the go-ahead score.
Still, Shuler and his teammates felt there was time for the Herd to make a final statement and pull out a victory. Cato completed four passes to get Marshall to Ohio’s 27 before Woseley’s interception.
“We believed we could score,” Shuler said. “The guy just made a great play on the ball.”
Shuler rooms with Cato and had words of encouragement for the sophomore after that interception.
“Put it all aside,” Shuler said. “Take the good from this and put the rest behind us. We’ll all learn from the mistakes.”
Cato said Shuler is just one of many dangerous receivers.
“He runs great routes,” Cato said. “He got in the right place. That’s the issue for everybody. You can’t cover them all.”