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Sunday, June 26, 2022

Commentary

Bowl out of reach after final road loss


 

Dominick LeGrande grabs Crawford Jones’ leg and hangs on as he tries to scramble for yards in his first collegiate start | Andrea Steele /The Parthenon

Dominick LeGrande grabs Crawford Jones’ leg and hangs on as he tries to scramble for yards in his first collegiate start | Andrea Steele /The Parthenon

The final play of the Cougars’ game against Marshall is indicative of the bumps and scrapes that has shaped their year. The Cougars have taken steps forward and backward this season — at times they have shown growth, but regression has been apparent at others.

With seven seconds remaining at their own 19 yard line, redshirt senior quarterback Crawford Jones threw a 9-yard pass to junior wide receiver Dewayne Peace.

Two laterals went backward to the UH 15, before redshirt freshman running back Kenneth Farrow scampered 10 yards and fumbled.

When Marshall sophomore linebacker Cortez Carter recovered the ball and sealed a 44-41 victory, the Cougars’ postseason hopes were finished. At 4-7 UH can’t win the necessary six games to become bowl-eligible.

Head coach Tony Levine said he was disappointed that his seniors will not reach a bowl game.

“I told the seniors ‘I’m sorry.’ This isn’t the way anybody envisioned the season going. We hope to get back home and send them out with a win next Saturday,” Levine said after the game.

UH has not won a game outside of the city, and until Saturday’s contest, those games hadn’t been close.

The Thundering Herd was its last opportunity to secure a victory outside of Houston. Next week UH faces Tulane at home in the final game at Robertson Stadium.

The Cougars lost by 31 in Pasadena at UCLA, 30 in Dallas against SMU and 20 in a contest with ECU.

Against Marshall the Cougars exhibited progress in their 3-point loss, but still made some of the same mistakes.

For the third consecutive game UH got off to a slow start. Against Tulsa, ECU and Marshall UH was down at least 17 points in the first half. This week the Cougars made the game close and they were facing more adversity.

On offense, the Cougars were injured at key positions.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback David Piland missed the game with a leg injury. Jones started the game at quarterback. Redshirt junior running back Charles Sims played but was recovering from an ankle injury he suffered at East Carolina that held him out against Tulsa.

Jones helped the Cougars get back into the game in the second half. After throwing one touchdown in the first half, he had two touchdowns in the third quarter and two in the fourth — finishing with a total five. He said UH couldn’t find rhythm early.

“We managed to get something going midway through second quarter. We managed to keep the momentum going through the second half,” Jones said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t put a full game together and a lot of that falls on my shoulders in the first half.”

More importantly, Jones led UH on two game-tying drives in the fourth quarter, putting the team in a position to win. Jones led an 89-yard drive that tied the game at 38 when Jones connected with freshman wide receiver Deontay Greenberry for a 7-yard score.

On the following drive, after Marshall responded with a field goal. The Cougars drove from their own 49 and tied the game again at 41.

On defense they were still without senior cornerback D.J. Hayden — a leader who is out for the rest of the season with an injury — and the Cougars struggled to defend the pass and rush attack.

Marshall redshirt freshman Kevin Grooms rushed for 159 yards. Sophomore quarterback Rakeem Cato threw for 377 yards and three touchdowns and his leading receiver of the evening — sophomore Tommy Shuler — caught nine passes for 105 yards and a score.

Levine’s first season has been a bumpy one, with ups and downs. Levine’s test for his second season is smoothing out the rough and creating some consistency by becoming a better road team.

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