Beginning spelled the end for Herd
ATHENS, Ohio — It was almost like a really bad sequel for Marshall’s football team on Saturday at Peden Stadium.
Marshall’s 34-31 loss to Ohio — its third straight in the “Battle for the Bell” — strongly resembled its last trip to Athens.
“We all had major mistakes — from the offense, defense and also special teams,” Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato said. “We all just have to stick together and keep fighting.”
In all reality, this game was over shortly after it began.
Marshall fumbled the ball away on its first two possessions, thus giving the Bobcats momentum in front of 24,836 fans — the third-largest crowd ever at Peden Stadium.
The result of those two fumbles were only seven points, but a general shock-and-awe effect with the Thundering Herd.
It was a case of “Here-we-go-again” for Marshall.
The last time the Herd ventured to Peden Stadium, it was an abysmal performance — six turnovers, four interceptions and missed opportunities in a 44-7 drubbing at the hands of Ohio.
This one, though?
This one was way worse.
That’s because, despite all the miscues, the Herd was still in this contest to the very end.
Despite giving Ohio 14 of its 17 points off of turnovers in the first half, Marshall went into the locker room and trailed by just seven points.
“To make as many mistakes as we made in the first half and be down seven, I felt pretty good coming out of halftime. ...” Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. “We just dug too big of a hole.”
Of course, Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton had lots to do with the final outcome after leading a nine-play, 79-yard drive to open the second half then following a Herd touchdown with an 18-play, 75-yard drive that took up 8:31 of game clock.
That’s what good quarterbacks do when they have the lead.
Marshall has a really good quarterback as well in Cato, but he was constantly swimming upstream against the flow of turnovers.
The final turnover was back-breaking because just when Marshall finally got a stop of Tettleton and had its chance to tie the game, wide receiver Demetrius Evans had his feet go out from under him on a timing route, which made for an easy interception for Ohio’s Devin Bass.
It was the fourth and final turnover and final body shot to take the Herd’s wind.
The bottom line is that against good teams — which Marshall hadn’t faced yet this season — the Herd cannot allow teams to gain momentum with avoidable turnovers.
When that happens, all sides of the ball are being asked to overcome a lot — especially in a rivalry football game on the road.
To be honest, the fact that Marshall was in the game at the end is shocking, considering a veteran Ohio team was plus-4 in the turnover category and turned those miscues into 17 points.
That’s 17 points in a game that ended up decided by three points.
The rest is self-explanatory.
And that’s why early turnovers — and the 14 first-half points they led to — signaled the end of the game before the Herd offense ever was able to get started.
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