Welcome to “Second Guess” Tuesday.
Merry opinions everybody.
- The irony is off-the-charts compelling.
One day after Louisiana outscored Marshall 20-0 in the fourth quarter to win the New Orleans Bowl 36-21, some Thundering Herd fans celebrated a landmark anniversary.
Twenty years ago, on Dec. 19, 2001, Marshall rallied, rallied and rallied some more to defeat East Carolina 64-61 in two overtimes in the 2001 GMAC Bowl at Mobile, Alabama.
Remember that thrilling game?
Who could forget?
The Herd trailed 38-8 at halftime and then-coach Bobby Pruett reacted accordingly.
“I turned over tables in the locker room,” recalled Pruett with a chuckle. “I shook a finger in every player’s face.”
As a result, Marshall outscored the Pirates 28-3 in the third quarter and 15-10 in the fourth period. One of those touchdowns was scored by current Marshall defensive line coach Ralph Street, who returned an interception 25 yards for a score from his defensive end position.
Finally, quarterback Byron Leftwich threw an 8-yard pass to Josh Davis for the winning touchdown in the second overtime.
Leftwich, now the offensive coordinator for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, completed 41 of 70 passes for 576 yards and four touchdowns that night. Slot receiver Denero Marriott caught 15 passes for 234 yards and a TD.
It was a wondrous victory that lives on in the annals of outstanding bowl games.
Now, let’s compare that monumental bowl game with what happened in Marshall’s most recent bowl game on Saturday night in New Orleans.
Instead of a record-setting comeback, the Herd suffered through yet another late-game meltdown by blowing a 21-16 second-half lead over Louisiana. Marshall was outscored 20-0 in the fourth quarter as the Ragin’ Cajuns won going away, 36-21.
What’s worse, it wasn’t the first time the Herd suffered a fourth-quarter letdown during the 2021 season.
In the third game of the season, East Carolina outscored Marshall 21-0 during the fourth quarter and won 42-28 at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Next, Appalachian State outscored the Herd 10-0 in the fourth quarter at Boone, North Carolina, for a 31-30 victory.
The loss to Louisiana was the third time Marshall was shut out in the fourth period and lost a game in the fourth quarter.
But don’t forget UAB scoring a touchdown with only 36 seconds remaining in the third quarter and then sitting on the ball for most of the scoreless fourth period for a 21-14 win.
And then there was Marshall’s 14-6 halftime lead over Western Kentucky in the Conference USA East Division championship game. The Herd got outscored 47-7 in the second half for a 53-21 loss.
Ready for one last statistic?
Marshall was outscored 75-7 during fourth quarters in losses to East Carolina, Appalachian State, Western Kentucky and Louisiana.
Mull all that over while celebrating the 20th anniversary of the greatest comeback in Herd history.
Those were indeed the good old days.
According to FootballScoop.com, Marshall’s football program is losing general manager Mike Villagrana. The website reports that Villagrana is expected to join new Virginia Tech head coach Brent Pry’s staff.