Marshall football: Herd falls to Purdue, 51-41
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A nightmare second quarter – where three turnovers contributed to a four-touchdown halftime deficit – doomed the Marshall football team in a 51-41 loss to Purdue on Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium.
Despite record-setting numbers from quarterback Rakeem Cato, his three interceptions on three straight second-quarter drives led to 21 Purdue points. What was Purdue's 21-14 lead became a 42-14 lead at halftime.
"I'm proud of their effort, but we came in and lost the football," Head Coach Doc Holliday said. "That's unacceptable. If we take care of the football, it's a different game. I'm proud of the way our kids played the second half, and we'll be a better team because of it."
The first pick of the second half came when a Cato pass bounced out of receiver Aaron Dobson's hands and into the hands of safety Antoine Lewis. Five plays later, Purdue quarterback Caleb TerBush found receiver Gary Bush for a 35-yard touchdown. The next two interceptions, thrown to Ricardo Allen and Josh Johnson, respectively, were returned for touchdowns. Allen snatched a pass thrown behind Marshall's Tommy Shuler and ran 39 yards for his score. Johnson jumped a short route and ran 74 yards for his.
The Thundering Herd (2-3, 1-0 Conference USA) would rally in the second half, cutting the lead to 10 points twice. Cato hit Gator Hoskins for two of his three touchdown catches in the second half. Hoskins' third score cut Purdue's lead to 45-35 near the start of the fourth quarter. Purdue (3-1) retaliated with another TerBush-to-Bush touchdown pass, but the Herd had a chance to cut the lead to eight with 3:46 left.
Cato found Craig Wilkins for a 15-yard touchdown, but on the two-point conversion, receiver Tommy Shuler took a pitch and looked like he wanted to pass, but was stuffed.
Cato finished with a career-high 439 yards and five touchdowns on 45-of-68 passing. Shuler caught 19 of those passes, a Marshall single-game record, for 200 yards.
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CATO'S 45 COMPLETIONS broke his own Marshall single-game record. His previous record was 44, set in the Herd's loss to Ohio. It also was the most passes a quarterback has ever completed against Purdue. Shuler broke a single-game record of 15 catches held by three others – Josh Davis versus Akron in 2004, David Foye versus Kent State in 200, and Denero Marriott versus East Carolina in the 2001 GMAC Bowl. Shuler's catch total also was an NCAA major-college high for this season. According to Conference USA, it tied the conference record for single-game receptions. It also was the most passes a receiver has ever caught against Purdue.
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HOLLIDAY SAID AFTER the game, that redshirt sophomore Travon Van, who moved from starting running back to reserve corner last week against Rice, did not make the trip to Purdue because of injury. He did not disclose the nature of the injury. Redshirt sophomore Derek Robinson, who was not listed on Marshall's travel roster, made the trip instead.
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HOLLIDAY HIMSELF DIDN'T escape injury Saturday. When Jermain Kelson blocked a Purdue punt and Derek Mitchell ran it back 35 yards for a touchdown, Holliday collided with an official, opening a nasty gash on his right cheek. Holliday also was flagged for a delay-of-game penalty on the play.
-- Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at email@example.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.