Oct. 28, 2012
HUNTINGTON - To say the shoe was on the other foot Saturday for Marshall's football team would be an understatement as UCF posted a 54-17 victory over the Thundering Herd at Edwards Stadium.
Marshall's hurry-up offense is usually the one piling up the double-figure yardage gains. In fact the Herd came into Saturday's game averaging an FBS-best 22.4 plays of 10 yards or more per game.
UCF (6-2, 4-0) got 18 of those against the Herd ... and those didn't count the 97- and 98-yard kickoff returns for scores by Quincy McDuffie, who broke the stadium record for longest kick return once in each half.
Herd Coach Doc Holliday summed up a lot of what happened to his team when asked about the success of UCF running back Latavius Murray (16 carries, 156 yards, 3 TD).
"We missed tackles," the third-year Herd coach said. "We had guys right there to make the play and just didn't do it. It's the same case with the kickoff team. You have guys in position to make plays and they have to make them.
"Last week we made those plays (in a 59-24 win at Southern Miss) and this week we didn't make near enough. We have to go back to work (Sunday) and get better as a team. That's for sure."
Marshall middle linebacker Billy Mitchell, who had his first career interception in the loss, summed it the Herd's whole night succinctly:
"There were a lot of missed assignments, a lot of missed tackles, a lot of missed everything," he said. We missed a lot of big plays, and they broke plays.
"We felt like we were prepared, but we couldn't make plays. Now, we can only control what we can control."
That would be the Herd's bowl potential, with Memphis (1-7, 1-3) visiting Edwards Stadium on Saturday at 2 p.m. in a non-televised game.
Marshall needs to win at least three of its final four games to reach the postseason. The loss to UCF put Marshall two games behind the East Division-leading Knights, and UCF also has the tiebreaker. The MU-UCF series will end with UCF's move to the Big East next season.
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While the Herd fell Saturday, quarterback Rakeem Cato and some of his teammates continued to climb in the school record and rankings pages. Cato went 35-for-62 for 298 yards and two scores with no interceptions.
In the loss, the sophomore moved up for a 19th-place tie to seventh on the Herd's single-season attempts list (416) and is ninth on the career attempts chart (720). In completions, he climbed from 10th (single-season) to fourth (284) and he's ninth in career completions (466).
In passing yardage, Cato stands 14th in a single season (2,949), needing 71 yards to pass Todd Donnan and move up to 13th. Byron Leftwich's 3,358 yards in 2000 ranks 10th. Cato's career air yardage (5,008) is No. 10 on the list.
Cato's 23 TDs this season are 12th on the single-season list and 38 in a career rank him in an eighth-place tie with Stan Hill (2001-04).
The quarterback's postgame comments showed his frustration with Saturday's loss, too.
"Anytime we lose the game, it's on us," he said. "We did stupid things that we have to get corrected. It's starting to get too late for us to correct the simple things. We just need to do better."
He was asked about the attitude the Herd needs to take as it heads into the final four weeks of the regular season.
"Hold your head (up); not only play for Marshall, but play for yourself," he said. "You're a man. Don't give up. Don't let anyone see you down. Just hold your head high and keep playing."
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Cato's roommate, classmate and former Miami Central High teammate, slot receiver Tommy Shuler, continued his own climb in the loss. With eight catches, Shuler has 77 this season, ranking 11th on the MU single-season list. In 10th place is Randy Moss' 78 in 1996. Another catch in front are Mike Barber (1988) and Josh Davis (2001) with 79.
Shuler's 77 receptions are the most for a Herd player since Davis caught 86 as a senior in 2004.
Tight end Gator Hoskins got his eighth scoring catch of the season in the defeat. That's one shy of the Herd record for a tight end, shared by Sean Doctor (1987) and Mike Bartrum (1992).
"They didn't really stop us; think we just stopped ourselves," Hoskins said afterward. "It makes it kind of hard when you're stopping yourself ... We have to come out and continue to do what we do.
"After a loss like this, the only thing we know how to do is come back and work."