By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
Considering its four-touchdown deficit at halftime, Marshall represented itself pretty well at Purdue last Saturday.
The defense held the Boilermakers down in the second half, giving the offense time to get itself back in the game. Take away Rakeem Cato’s two interceptions that were returned for scores late in the first half, and the Herd walks off with an upset instead of a 51-41 loss.
It was the last nonconference game of the season for Marshall, which hosts Tulsa at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in its Homecoming game.
“We have a conference game next week and this was a good start into it,” Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. “We have got to move on from this game and watch film, fix mistakes and continue to improve.”
Marshall’s defense held Purdue to nine points in the second half and blocked a punt that Point Pleasant native Derek Mitchell returned 35 yards for a touchdown. The Herd (2-3, 1-0 Conference USA) had nine tackles for loss on the day.
“We challenged ourselves at the half and wanted to make a statement,” defensive tackle Marques Aiken said. “The score showed you can’t let a team like that get to you. All we can do is show up at practice this week and work hard and come back next week.”
Aiken, who had eight tackles, including 2 1/2 for loss, said the game can be used to springboard Marshall into league play.
“We found a lot about our team this game,” he said. “We could have easily given up after that deficit at the half. We silenced the crowd at times and made the impact we needed.”
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It hasn’t been a good season for former WVU assistant coaches now on different sidelines.
According to the Herald-Dispatch of Huntington, Holliday and a referee collided during Mitchell’s TD return. He suffered a gash on the right side of his face that required stitches.
Adding insult to injury, Marshall was assessed a delay of game penalty.
Earlier this season, former Mountaineer assistant Rick Trickett, now at Florda State, was leveled by an official on a long Seminoles touchdown run against Wake Forest.
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Receiver Tommy Shuler and tight end Gator Hoskins were honored for their performances against Purdue.
Shuler was named the C-USA Offensive Player of the Week after catching a Marshall-record 19 passes for 200 yards. The sophomore from Miami now leads the nation with 51 receptions through five games.
Hoskins was named the National Tight End of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards. He had only four catches, but three of them were for touchdowns. The three TDs were the most in a game by a Marshall player since Josh Davis also had three, against Kent State on Oct. 11, 2003.
— E-mail: gfauber@