OXFORD, OHIO— During Saturday’s third quarter as Marshall’s offense faltered and the defense struggled to contain the Redhawks, Miami’s confidence grew and thoughts of an upset on opening day started to creep into their minds.
Every sack, near interception, and defensive stop was bigger because they were against Marshall. The team with all the preseason accolades, picked to play in a New Year’s bowl, with the Heisman Trophy hopeful at quarterback. You can bet the Miami defense saw the spread on Rakeem Cato in Sports Illustrated and so did every other defender on Marshall’s schedule.
The Herd faced some adversity in the third quarter as Miami built momentum and it will face the same adversity all season. Marshall has a target on its back and every team on the schedule wants to be the one that ruins Marshall’s predicted dream season.
“That third quarter they had some adversity there and they overcame it. That was good,” thought Holliday. “We needed that. We need to make sure we take care of business and keep embracing those expectations but understand we need to continue to get better every week.”
Nobody said it was going to be easy. Someone forgot to tell the Miami Redhawks they were supposed to just rollover and allow Marshall to win the game by 40 points or more and head back to Huntington 1-0.
Miami took control of the game in the third quarter, possessing the ball for 10:30 and outscoring Marshall 17-0. Meanwhile, Marshall’s offense was out of sync and ineffective. It collected just two first downs and was 0-for-3 on third down conversion attempts. It held the ball for just 4:24.
Miami had all the momentum and energy and Marshall was searching for answers.
“We faced some adversity, some more than we expected to,” admitted tight end Eric Frohnapfel. “We stalled out but we rallied around each other and pulled out a victory.”
Saturday’s third quarter may have spelled doom for a more immature Marshall team but, now in Doc Holliday’s fifth season as head coach, Marshall has a group of upper classmen who have been in these situations before.
“We were calm, cool and collected on the sidelines and no one pressed the panic button,” assessed quarterback Rakeem Cato.
Cato, who struggled at times, ended up scoring the final touchdown on a fake handoff that put the game out of Miami’s reach.
In the end, Marshall didn’t play its best game and came away with a win on the road.
The bottom line is Marshall will be faced with adversity all season long as teams gear up just a little bit more in hopes of being the one that dashes the expectations swirling around the Marshall football program.
Saturday’s third quarter was an early reminder of that.