Chuck Landon: Finally, MU wins in Lone Star State
HOUSTON -- The armadillo finally is off Marshall's back.
That odd-looking rascal sure was getting heavy.
But, now, the 0-for-Texas streak is over. Now, Marshall hasn't lost every game it ever played within the ever so wide borders of the Lone Star State. And, now, the Herd doesn't have an embarrassing 0-8 record in Texas.
That's because Marshall finally beat Rice, 54-51, in a Texas-sized game that lasted four 15-minute quarters and two overtimes Saturday before a crowd that wasn't half as large as the announced 14,204 in Rice Stadium.
It really does feels good to get that darned armadillo off Marshall's back.
And who cares if it were by a whisker on his chinny, chin, chin?
Certainly not Doc Holliday, who quickly revealed what the best part of not being 0-for-Texas was for him.
"I don't have to listen to Chuck and you guys write about how we've never won in Texas anymore," said Marshall's third-year head coach with a smile the size of West Texas. "The No. 1 thing is we finally won a game in Texas and I don't have to listen to that anymore."
Oh, if the media corps had just had a 10-gallon cowboy hat to present the aptly nicknamed Doc Holliday, the scenario would have been perfect.
So, Doc, how does it feel to be the first Marshall coach to win a game in the state of Texas?
"I wish it wasn't so hard," he replied with a wry grin. "You know what? It's a win, so we'll take it. I won't have to listen to you next year."
What Holliday will have to listen to, however, is fans who are wondering what happened to a Herd defense that allowed 647 yards total offense to Rice including 467 yards to Owls' quarterback Tyler McHargue.
"Don't get me wrong, we didn't play great defense," said Holliday. "But when they ran the ball down to the two-yard line, they put us in a pretty difficult situation.
"We had to find a way to get a stop down there and force them into a field goal to get the game into overtime."
He also is going to hear about a decision to go for a two-point conversion with 4:10 remaining that failed, leaving the Herd with a 41-31 lead. In retrospect, kicking the extra point would have allowed Marshall to win in regulation.
Holliday didn't address that issue, but the coaching logic was obvious. Instead of Rice needing a touchdown and field goal to tie the game and send it into overtime, Holliday wanted to make them need two touchdowns. A successful two-point conversion would have accomplished that.
Then, there was the decision to play Rice for an on-side kick with 3:17 remaining. Instead, the Owls kicked the ball away and kickoff returner Andre Snipes-Booker caught it at the 6-yard line and took a knee.
That left Marshall in a huge hole that led to Rice nearly winning in regulation before sending the game into overtime.
"I don't think we out-coached ourselves," said Holliday. "I think Booker should have caught it and got it up the field a little bit. Maybe we out-coached Booker a little bit. You are supposed to get back there and get on the ball and catch it and get what you can get.
"If I had it to do over again, I would have everyone back there."
But the big Lone Star State-sized picture?
Marshall isn't 0-for-Texas any longer.
And, Doc, I'll never mention it again.
Chuck Landon is a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 304-526-2827, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.