Herd rally falls short, lose 51-41 to Boilermakers
Published: Monday, October 1, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 1, 2012 00:10
Two interception returns for a touchdown and a missed field goal proved to be too much to overcome for the Marshall football team on the road against Purdue, as the Thundering Herd fell to the Boilermakers 51-41 in West Lafayette.
“I’m proud of our effort, but we came in and lost the football game,” head coach Doc Holliday said. “That’s unacceptable. You take care of the football and it’s a different game.”
Marshall found itself trailing 42-14 at halftime after pick-sixes of 39 yards by Ricardo Allen and 74 yards by Josh Johnson.
Despite trailing by four touchdowns at the half, the Thundering Herd railed back in the second half.
Marshall forced Purdue to punt twice and Dominick LeGrande intercepted a pass from Caleb TerBush on the Boilermakers opening three drives of the half.
The Herd went after the second punt the Boilermakers sent off in the second half, which allowed Jermaine Kelson to get a hand on it to block it and Derek Mitchell to scoop up the football and rumble into the endzone from 35 yards out.
“We thought coming in we could block a punt and it gave us some momentum,” Holliday said. “We got a touchdown off it and that helped us a bunch.”
Help a bunch it did, as the score brought Marshall back within two touchdowns at 42-28 with 6:09 left in the third quarter.
“We just need to keep fighting,” Rakeem Cato said. “You can’t look at the scoreboard. You have to just keep fighting.”
The Thundering Herd defense was on its heels for most of the game, but turned it up a notch in the second half.
Following the blocked punt that was returned for a score by Mitchell, the Boilermaker offense pieced together a five-minute and 40-second drive that ended in a field goal from Paul Griggs, a drive that would have produced a touchdown in the first half.
“I’m proud of the way our kids came out in the second half and fought,” Holliday said. “We’ll be better for it.”
“We challenged ourselves at the half and wanted to make a statement,” Marques Akin said.
The Herd would respond on its next two drives though, with touchdown grabs from Gator Hoskins, his third of the afternoon, and Craig Wilkins.
Unfortunately the Marshall defense could not come away with a stop on Purdue’s offense between those two scores.
Following Wilkins’ 15-yard touchdown, the Thundering Herd elected to go for a two-point conversion and failed as Tommy Shuler could not connect with Rakeem Cato on a quarterback throwback pass.
Marshall would have been within eight points at 51-43 had Shuler had hit Cato on the pass, but that was not the case.
The Thundering Herd forced the Boilermakers to turn the ball over on downs after TerBush was unable to complete a pass intended for Antavian Edison.
Marshall still had hope to pull of the come from behind win with just 94 seconds in the game and the ball from its own 15 yard line.
But on the sixth play of the Herd’s final drive Cato was sacked by preseason All-American defensive lineman Kawann Short and fumbled the ball.
Will Lucas recovered the fumble for Purdue and that enable the Boilermakers to line up in the victory formation.
Cato and Shuler hooked up 19 times for 200 and those catches by the sophomore wide receiver enabled him to break the Marshall and Conference USA mark for receptions in a single game.
“They’ve done that all year and I think they’re a good combination,” Holliday said.
The Herd will now turn its attention to C-USA for the remainder of the season.
“We have a conference game next week and this was a good start into it,” Holliday said. “We have got to move on from this game and watch film, fix mistakes and continue to improve.”
Next up for Marshall is a homecoming meeting with Tulsa on Oct. 6.
Adam Rogers can be contacted at email@example.com.