Chuck Landon: Slow start forgotten during big second half
Marshall beat the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks with one half tied behind its back.
That’s not a joke.
It was as though Marshall’s handicap for this game was spotting Miami a half.
Not that it mattered.
After sputtering their way to a surprisingly lackluster 14-14 tie at halftime against the overmatched RedHawks on Saturday night at Edwards Stadium, the real Herd showed up for the third quarter.
And began thundering.
One, two, three Rakeem Cato touchdown passes later, Marshall had blown Miami out exactly like everyone expected.
The Herd simply waited two quarters to do it.
But when Marshall did flex its offensive and defensive muscles, the game was absolutely no contest. The Herd easily dispatched Miami, 52-14, before 27,148 relieved fans.
It doesn’t take an abacus to calculate Marshall out-scored the beleaguered RedHawks, 38-0, during the second half.
That’s right, 38 to zip.
And it wasn’t that close.
Just consider these facts:
n Marshall didn’t have a single first down in the first quarter, yet finished with 34.
n After Miami rolled up 184 yards total offense on 30 plays in the first half, Marshall held the RedHawks to a meager 55 yards on 27 plays during a scoreless second half.
n Cato wasn’t sharp during the first half, completing only 9 of 16 passes for a paltry 72 yards and one touchdown. But in the third quarter alone the junior was 10 of 13 for 107 yards and three touchdown passes. That meant Cato completed 13 of 18 passes for 181 yards and four TDs in just the second half.
n Miami quarterback Austin Boucher completed his first eight passes of the game. After that? He completed only two of his last 14 attempts.
n After managing just 217 yards of total offense in the first half, Marshall exploded for 214 yards on 31 plays in the third quarter alone.
I’ve seen bean bag chairs that weren’t this lopsided.
So, what happened?
Was it halftime adjustments? Was it a fire and brimstone sermon by a less than reverent Doc Holliday? Was it a soul-searching motivational speech from the game captains?
None of the above.
It was simply a case of Marshall playing how the Herd is capable of playing. And that’s true on both sides of the football.
In the first half, Marshall’s usually prolific passing attack was sputtering so badly a disgusted Cato took off his gloves and decided to go bare knuckles.
Talk about the gloves coming off.
That led to Cato tossing five touchdown passes to four different receivers including Gator Hoskins (two), Tommy Shuler, Craig Wilkins and a 54-yard bomb to Devon Smith that served as an exclamation point.
Then, there’s the defense.
After allowing Miami’s Boucher to complete a 45-yard pass despite double coverage and a 47-yard pass into triple coverage, Marshall’s pass defense suddenly turned suffocating in the second half.
Did it ever.
Miami passed for a meager 15 yards in the second half.
Basically, everything that didn’t work in the first half suddenly clicked like precision in the second half. That’s why Marshall could have hung 60-some points on the scoreboard if it had wanted.
The Herd was that good in the second half.
And here’s the best news.
Marshall wasn’t playing over its head. On the contrary, the Herd was just playing its game.
Now, the question is how many quarters will Marshall spot Gardner-Webb on Saturday?
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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