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Green impresses in college debut, leads Marshall to season-opening win

Redshirt+freshman+quarterback+Isaiah+Green+%28white+jersey%2C+left%29+prepares+to+take+a+snap+under-center+for+the+Herd+next+to+redshirt+sophomore+running+back+Tyler+King+%28white+jersey%2C+right%29.+Green%E2%80%99s+youth+is+aided+by+an+experienced+backfield+and+receiving+corps.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Isaiah Green (white jersey, left) prepares to take a snap under-center for the Herd next to redshirt sophomore running back Tyler King (white jersey, right). Green’s youth is aided by an experienced backfield and receiving corps.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Isaiah Green (white jersey, left) prepares to take a snap under-center for the Herd next to redshirt sophomore running back Tyler King (white jersey, right). Green’s youth is aided by an experienced backfield and receiving corps.

Rick Farlow

Rick Farlow

Redshirt freshman quarterback Isaiah Green (white jersey, left) prepares to take a snap under-center for the Herd next to redshirt sophomore running back Tyler King (white jersey, right). Green’s youth is aided by an experienced backfield and receiving corps.

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When Marshall University redshirt freshman Isaiah Green took the field Saturday at Yager Stadium, it marked the first time since 2011 that head coach Doc Holliday started a freshman quarterback in the Herd’s season opener.

The last freshman to do so was Rakeem Cato in 2011. Marshall’s former record-setting quarterback led the Herd to a 2014 Conference USA Championship and bowl wins in 2011, 2013 and 2014. Holliday noted the similarities in his current and former quarterbacks.

“(Green) has a little bit of Cato in him,” Holliday said. “He walks into different arenas and it doesn’t faze him a whole lot.”

Green was announced as the starter one hour before kickoff against Miami, as he won the quarterback battle over graduate-transfer Alex Thomson. Green, a 6-foot-2, 202-pound native of Fairburn, Georgia, proved his worth in his debut as he completed 24-of-37 passes for 272 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Green also added 22 rushing yards on eight attempts, leading the visiting Thundering Herd to a 35-28 win against former Mid-American Conference foe Miami (Ohio)—its fifth-consecutive win over the RedHawks.

“(Green) saw a lot of different looks tonight, and he took advantage of them,” senior wide receiver Tyre Brady said. “He did a great job out there. Our defense did a great job preparing him and coach (Tim) Cramsey did a great job getting him ready for this game.”

Green is the first Marshall quarterback since Chase Litton’s 2015 win over Charlotte to post a 65 percent pass completion percentage, more than 250 yards passing, two or more touchdowns and no turnovers.

“(Green) did a good job tonight and did what quarterbacks have to do to get a win,” Marshall offensive coordinator Tim Cramsey said. “He played within himself, played smart, held onto the football. As I told a couple guys who were talking to me before the game, I don’t look at him as a freshman. He has that type of personality that’s very calm, very cool.”

Though it may have been a surprise to see Green announced as the starter, he had the most experience with the starting offense entering the weekend. Green saw the bulk of the reps with the starters throughout the spring, while Thomson was still at Wagner, then got nearly all the first-team snaps during fall camp.

“I know a lot of people think that because I’m a freshman, I’d be kind of rattled, but that’s just never been me,” Green said. “I’ve been through a lot in my life, I’m used to adversity, I’m used to having to overcome things, so (football) is just easy to me.”

Green connected with Brady nine times for 116 yards and both passing touchdowns, including a 21-yard score that proved to be the game-winner.

“That feeling is amazing,” Green said. “To know that you came through for your teammates, the whole Herd nation and everybody that was watching is just an amazing feeling.”

“(Green and Brady) have been working together for a while now,” Cramsey said. “Isaiah’s had a chance to go with the (starters) for a long time now throughout practice and fall camp, and the majority of spring as well. So, they’ve been working together for a long time. I know it’s new in-game situations for them, but it’s not new for them to be throwing a ball to each other.”

Following his debut, Green said he’s excited to play at home for the first time in his career.

“We had a good fanbase here tonight, but it’ll feel even better to play in front of a whole stadium full of Herd fans,” Green said.

Marshall looks to start the season 2-0 for the first time since its 2014 conference championship season Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m. against Football Championship Subdivision opponent Eastern Kentucky.

Kieran Intemann can be contacted at [email protected]

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