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Thundering Herd defense strong at times

Sport Editor

Published: Monday, October 8, 2012

Updated: Monday, October 8, 2012 01:10

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Marcus Constantino | The Parthenon

A week after playing the Purdue Boilermakers and the 13th ranked scoring offense in the nation, Marshall University welcomed in the 14th ranked scoring offense in the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.

The Golden Hurricane were averaging 42 points per game, tops in Conference USA, entering Saturdays game.

Marshall’s defense gave up 45 points, but it was the Herd defense that made several plays when the team needed it.

Rakeem Cato and Marshall’s offense struggled early on against Tulsa. The Herd turned the ball over two times in their first two positions. The second play of the first drive, tight end Gator Hoskins fumbled the ball and the second play of the second drive, Cato threw an interception. Both turnovers gave the Golden Hurricane offense less than 50 yards to the endzone.

“There early in the game we turned it over a couple times,” Head Coach Doc Holliday said.  “I thought we regained momententum. I thought we responded.”

Marshall’s defense clamped down and continued its second half success from the Purdue game, in which the second half the Thundering Herd defense allowed nine points. The Herd defense held the Golden Hurricane to a field goal in the two possessions.

Thundering Herd safety Dominick LeGrande said the defense is wanted to make a statement.

“We came out with fire,” LeGrande said. “We had a message to prove and it wasn’t enough today. It wasn’t enough, so we have to give more next time.”

The Herd defense struggled in the third quarter, giving up 20 points including a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Tulsa’s Trey Watts. Marshall responded with a touchdown pass to Gator Hoskins. The following kickoff Raheem Waiters delivered a hit to Watts at the 20-yard line and then the defense forced the Golden Hurricane to punt after three plays.

“That is just everyone believing in each other,” said Marshall’s safety Okechukwu Okoroha. “We could have folded after the kick return, but we believe in each other and knew we had to get it fixed.”

Marshall’s defense, however, did struggle with slowing down the Golden Hurricane run game. Tulsa rushed for 250 yards to just 90 yards passing. Okoroha said it is something the team needs to improve on.

“That’s something we need to work on,” Okoroha said. “That’s something we’ve got to fix. It has got to be fixed because I know we are going to see them again.”

Tulsa’s Trey Watts rushed for 111 yards. Alex Singleton, a 6-foot-1 260 pound running back, gained 95 yards and added three touchdowns.

LeGrande said he had never faced a running back the size of Singleton. Okoroha echoed LeGrande’s thoughts and said that Singleton used his size to his advantage.

The Herd defense made some important plays, but Okoroha said the team has to work hard in practice to see the results in the game.

“All the mistakes that we make in practice show up in the game,” Okoroha said. “People that don’t practice hard, it shows up in the game. “We are going to practice hard this entire week and next week to get ready for the next game.”

The Herd is on a bye week and will play the Southern Miss Golden Eagles on Oct. 20 in Hattiesburg, Miss.

Jeremy Johnson can be contacted at johnson783@marshall.edu.

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