In a game where certain players had to step up, few players stepped up against Purdue like junior safety, Tiquan Lang. Lang was named National Defensive Player of the Week after he achieved 17 tackles and 2 interceptions that were returned for touchdowns.
Lang started his staggering day right from the start. On the first play from the scrimmage, Lang intercepted a pass by Austin Appleby and returned it 30 yards for his first score of the day. When The Thundering Herd had taken the lead late in the fourth quarter, Lang intercepted another Appleby pass for a 55-yard interception returned for a touchdown. The crowd of 38,791 knew that Lang’s second interception was the final nail in Purdue’s coffin, as Marshall gained a win over The Boilermakers by a score of 41-31.
With Marshall’s active leader in interceptions, A.J. Leggett out of action due to a back injury, Lang filled the void at safety. He entered Sunday’s game with 2 career interceptions and he has now doubled that total in one game. This was his first game with an interception since Sept. 20 against Akron. His previous career high in tackles was 10 in last year’s Battle for the Bell against Ohio. Though Lang only stands at 5 feet 8 inches tall, there was never any doubt in coach Doc Holliday’s mind that Lang was going to be a special player when he first scouted the Valdosta, Georgia native.
“He’s a tremendous player and he’s got ‘it’. You talk a lot of times about the ‘it factor’ and he’s got it. He’s not extremely big and he’s not extremely fast but he’s a hell of a football player who makes plays,” Holliday said during his postgame press conference.
During his Tuesday press conference, Holliday continued to praise Lang for his exceptional playing.
“He didn’t get recruited by a lot of people because he’s 5’8″, 175 pounds but I guarantee that he can play for anybody in the country. He’s physical, he’s fast. He’s just a good football player and he’s got `it’. That’s why people make mistakes recruiting; they recruit based on all these measurables and they don’t turn the film on and ask, `can he play football?’ Do they have it?’ And he’s got `it’, he’s a good player and I’m glad he’s here.”
“We wanted to get turnovers, make an impact. The one late, I saw them trying to go deep. Really, the ball came right to me, and I had to make a play. No one was going to stop me. When I caught it, I turned back into my running back days then,” Lang said after his career-defining performance.
Lang and the Herd will be back in action at 7 P.M. in a big Saturday night road game. They will take on Ohio at Peden Stadium in the 15th annual Battle for the Bell.
Josh Hughes can be contacted at [email protected]