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Herd tops RedHawks in reunion of former MAC foes

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Redshirt junior offensive lineman Levi Brown and redshirt senior running back Keion Davis celebrate with high fives after the Herd takes a 14-0 lead over Miami in the first quarter. Davis and redshirt senior Anthony Anderson, combined to score three of Marshall’s five total touchdowns against the RedHawks.

Redshirt junior offensive lineman Levi Brown and redshirt senior running back Keion Davis celebrate with high fives after the Herd takes a 14-0 lead over Miami in the first quarter. Davis and redshirt senior Anthony Anderson, combined to score three of Marshall’s five total touchdowns against the RedHawks.

Rick Farlow

Rick Farlow

Redshirt junior offensive lineman Levi Brown and redshirt senior running back Keion Davis celebrate with high fives after the Herd takes a 14-0 lead over Miami in the first quarter. Davis and redshirt senior Anthony Anderson, combined to score three of Marshall’s five total touchdowns against the RedHawks.

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Oxford, Ohio — In his first-career collegiate appearance, redshirt freshman quarterback Isaiah Green guided Marshall football to a 35-28 defeat of the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks Saturday at Yager Stadium. Green, who was announced as a starter within hours of Marshall’s season opener, completed 24 of his 37 passes (64.9 percent) for 272 yards and two passing touchdowns in the Herd’s win.

“It was a good experience for me,” Green said. “Just getting to go out there with the guys. I know they trusted me and I trusted them. We had a good plan and we stuck to it.”

Despite a 2 1/2-hour rain delay, Green and Marshall’s offense jumped out to a 14-0 start. Though Green had never taken a collegiate snap before Saturday, Marshall provided the 19-year-old with 18 returning starters to supplement his winning effort. Redshirt senior wide receiver Tyre Brady’s nine receptions for a game-high 116 yards and two touchdowns led the offensive charge for Green and the Herd, as Marshall left Oxford with a 1-0 record.

“We sat in the locker room for about five hours, on the road, and I thought they came out and played extremely well,” Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. “(Miami players) were wrapped up all over (Brady) today. He made a couple of circus catches out there. He’s just a tremendous player and I’m glad he’s on our side.”

In the opening drive, Green completed a 33-yard pass—his longest pass of the game—to redshirt sophomore tight end Xavier Gaines. Then, from the two-yard line, redshirt senior running back Keion Davis took a handoff into the end zone to give Marshall a 6-0 advantage.

Davis led all individual rushers with 76 yards, as Marshall scored its three first half touchdowns on the ground. After Davis’s opening touchdown rush, fellow redshirt senior running back Anthony Anderson scored two separate, one-yard rushing touchdowns. The Herd took a 21-7 lead into halftime.

“To me, football is a game of momentum, so (scoring on the first two drives) gave us great momentum,” Davis said.

Miami—a team that returned 19 starters from last season—staged a second half comeback led by defensive stops and redshirt senior quarterback Gus Ragland. After Marshall started the third quarter by extending its lead to 28-7 with a 30-yard touchdown from Green to Brady, Miami scored two unanswered touchdowns and cut Marshall’s lead to seven points.

“(Miami) came out in the second half, changed up what they did defensively, as all good staffs do, and adjusted some things,” Marshall offensive coordinator Tim Cramsey said. “We had to adjust to them and did enough to hold on. I said this before the game and I’ll say it again now, they’re a heck of a defense.”

The RedHawks used two drives and less than four minutes of game clock to score 14 points. Miami’s first scoring drive of the second half took 1 minute and 54 seconds and used six plays for 72 yards—featuring a 54-yard Ragland pass to wide receiver Jack Sorenson. In the fourth quarter, Ragland completed three passes for 61 yards, including a six-yard touchdown pass to tight end Andrew Homer to make the score 28-21 with nine minutes remaining in the game.

“Miami is a good football team offensively,” Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. “That Ragland guy drives you crazy. At the end of the day, we found a way to win. Anytime you go on the road and win, that’s huge.”

Ragland passed for 231 of his 357 total yards in the second half. In total, Ragland out-passed Green by 85 yards. Despite that, the Herd answered in the fourth quarter with another Brady touchdown reception—which proved to be game-winning—and held off the RedHawks for the remainder of the contest.

“I just want to thank the coaches for giving me the opportunity to go out there and make plays and trusting me,” Brady said. “Isaiah (Green) stepped in there and made some great throws tonight and had great poise.”

Marshall has won nine of its last 10 meetings against Miami, including the last five between the schools, and Holliday is undefeated (4-0) against the RedHawks as head coach of the Herd. The Herd returns to Huntington for its 2018 home opener against Eastern Kentucky University Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

“At the end of the day, we found a way to win,” Holliday said. “I’m not going to apologize for any wins. You go on the road and beat a rival like Miami, I don’t think I’ve lost to them, which is a good thing, that’s huge, regardless of what the score is.”

Rick Farlow can be contacted at [email protected]

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