GREENVILLE, N.C. - Blake Frohnapfel knew the drill, and performed it well for 111/2 games - take your second-team reps, get your mop-up duty when you can and know you are one injury away from being thrust into the game, no matter the stakes.For the redshirt freshman, he only had Marshall's season on his shoulders. No biggie.Frohnapfel, who replaced the injured Rakeem Cato, performed well in the Thundering Herd's 65-59 double-overtime loss to East Carolina Friday afternoon. "Always being the backup, it's something that you're prepared for the whole year," Frohnapfel said. "You never really know when your chance is going to come, you're always watching film and all that. Tonight I tried everything I could, but we couldn't come up with the win."
Oh, he came up with a few tricks when he entered, including a 51-yard rushing touchdown on a fake handoff to Essray Taliaferro. The CBS Sports crew and any number of media members were fooled badly, following Taliaferro into the pile.Of course, the East Carolina defense was sucked in worse than anybody, which is why the 6-foot-6 Frohnapfel took off like Tim Tebow, No. 15 and all. He scored the longest rushing touchdown against ECU this season."I kind of figured somebody was going to run me down; there was no way I was going to make it," Frohnapfel said with a laugh. "I was lucky enough to make it the whole way."Passing-wise, he went 12 of 15 for 101 yards, engineering what could have been a bowl-clinching drive, and it was a beauty - 15 plays, 75 yards, chewing up 5 minutes, 21 seconds. Taking a 52-45 lead, the Herd left ECU with 1:50 left after the kickoff, with just one timeout.His ability with the zone read caught ECU's defense unprepared. After all, there was zero video of Frohnapfel or the zone read for Herd foes to break down.Frohnapfel drew high marks from coach Doc Holliday. Don't look for a quarterback controversy just yet, but Holliday has a few months to plot how he can give Cato a break, creatively."He brings a dimension to this offense, and we've got to play him more," Holliday said.
Frohnapfel was the man who delivered Tommy Shuler's record 107th reception of the season, giving the sophomore the Herd's single-season mark. With 110, Shuler broke Mike Barber's record of 106, set in 1987.Shuler finished with 14 receptions for 141 yards and two touchdowns, and also picked up six other first downs.In just two seasons, Shuler already has 124 career receptions, 16th place on MU's all-time list. But those numbers are little consolation for Shuler, who won't have a 13th game to add to them.
"It's kind of hard right now," Shuler said.nn
Aaron Dobson finished his career tied for fourth on MU's career TD list, tied with Troy Brown at 24. He recorded that 24th TD pass in the first five minutes of the game, easily beating a defender on a jump ball.Wearing a knee brace and clearly limited in number of plays, Dobson caught four passes for 61 yards. That put the Dunbar native 11th all-time in receptions (165) and ninth in yardage (2,398).nn
Holliday said freshmen running backs Steward Butler and Kevin Grooms were limited by injury, and they combined for just six carries and 21 yards. Grooms was also used on the kickoff team.
Fellow freshman Remi Watson traveled but did not dress. Neither did receiver Andre Snipes-Booker or tight end Gator Hoskins. Receiver Jermain Kelson hobbled off with an injury and did not return.Right guard John Bruhin and Alex Schooler did not start, leading to the seventh different starting offensive line combination this season. From left tackle were 12-game starter Jordan Jeffries, Josh Lovell, Cam Dees, Chris Japerse and Garrett Scott.Another personnel change of note: Trent Martin took all nine kickoffs, squib, pooch, deep and all other varieties.nn
Other records, milestones and numbers of note:Cato blasted through the 4,000-yard barrier, with his 318 yards giving him 4,201 for the season. That is third in MU annals, splitting two Byron Leftwich seasons about down the middle.
Cato holds the MU record for single-season completions with 406, and is second with 597 attempts, tied for third with 37 touchdowns, fourth with 4,232 yards of total offense, and had the second-most-accurate season (68.0 percent)In career standings, Cato is sixth with 888 attempts, fourth with 588 completions, eight with 6,260 passing yards, fifth with 52 TD passes, eighth with 6,323 total yards and still first in completion percentage, 66.2 percent.Antavious Wilson finishes his MU career seventh in receptions (187) and 10th in yards (2,269).With 633 total yards, Marshall topped 600 for the fourth time this year and finished with 6,411 for the season. The Herd scored 491 points with 24 touchdowns rushing and 39 passing.
Here is the flip side, one which likely results in a pink slip for defensive coordinator Chris Rippon: The Herd yielded a record-obliterating 517 points, including 30 touchdowns rushing and 30 passing. The total yardage count is 5,481.And finally, this tidbit: East Carolina won the toss and chose to receive, ending Marshall's 16-game streak of starting the game on offense.Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.