Herd, Bobcats remember last year’s shocking rout
HUNTINGTON - It was not a dark and stormy night when Marshall played Ohio last September in Peden Stadium.
The host Ohio Bobcats came out in black uniforms and proceeded to turn out the lights on the Thundering Herd, forcing six first-half turnovers in a shocking 44-7 rout. At the merciful conclusion of the "Battle for the Bell," the Bobcats sprinted to the prize and rang it with gusto.
The Herd's short bus ride to Athens was much longer coming home.
"It was quiet," recalled defensive end Jeremiah Taylor. "It was dark, and it burned into our minds."
And hasn't stopped burning. True freshman offensive lineman Cam Dees can sense it.
"They're fired up," Dees said. "I wasn't here to experience the loss, but I can just feel how upset they are and how ready they are to go get after it on Saturday. They were talking about this game in the summer."
"It's a lot of anger, frustration about what happened last year," said receiver Aaron Dobson. "The game definitely got out of hand. They just beat us, physically, everything on both the offensive side of the ball and defense."
Dobson barely remembered that he had a 45-yard touchdown catch from then-freshman Rakeem Cato to tie the game at 7. He just remembers his team did little right after that.
The Bobcats rolled up 559 total yards. Ryan Boykins ran for 122 yards in the second half, effectively chewing up clock and preserving the 34-7 first-half lead.
Oh, yeah, that first half. Cato threw three interceptions in the first quarter, and his teammates lost two fumbles in the second, gaffes that lead to 24 Ohio points.
In his third collegiate game, Cato received another tough lesson about college football. "That was one of my worst games I've ever played, little league, high school, college level, one of my worst games," he said.
Marshall's shot at redemption comes at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Joan C. Edwards Stadium, in a non-televised contest. The game falls exactly 52 weeks after the 44-7 loss, and the Bobcats thus far are fulfilling their role as favorites in the Mid-American Conference.
The Bobcats are coming off a 51-24 home win over New Mexico State, which followed a 24-14 win at Penn State. The common denominator in those two games: strong second halves.
At Penn State, the Bobcats scored 21 unanswered points after halftime, while they ripped off 24 straight in the third quarter last week.
Tyler Tettleton went 15-of-23 passing for 257 yards and two touchdowns and added one rushing score - numbers that compare favorably to what he did against Marshall as a sophomore. Those numbers were 20-of-29 for 285 yards and three TDs, plus 53 yards on nine rushes with another score.
Tettleton has been named to preseason watch lists for several awards. Similar recognition has been handed to guard Eric Herman, cornerback Travis Carrie and place-kicker Matt Weller.
The Bobcats will arrive in Huntington on a major uptick, winning eight of their last nine dating back to last October. That streak includes their first-ever bowl victory, a 24-23 win over Utah State at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise.
Ohio coach Frank Solich, whose contact has been extended through 2017, does not consider last year's game to be a representative result. He points to Marshall's hard-fought wins in 2009 and 2010, by scores of 21-17 and 24-23.
"All you have to do is look at all the other games with Marshall, and that's what this game will be like," Solich said. "We got on a little bit of a roll last year, and sometimes that can happen. When it does happen, it's tough when you're the other team.
"But that's not what, typically, this game's been about. This has been about close games, very, very tough, physical football, being decided later in the game. And that's exactly what we anticipate this game will be about."
In Huntington, it's about a reversing the dark memory of 52 weeks ago, of the black-clad Bobcats dashing after that bell.
"I definitely remember that," Dobson said. "They wanted it; you can say they really wanted that game. I think they wanted it more than us last year, and we can't let that happen.
"We're going to focus, have a good week of preparation and it's going to be a great game Saturday."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.