Davis sparked Marshall’s 2017 win
HUNTINGTON — Last season, Marshall University running back Keion Davis took head coach Doc Holliday’s words to heart as he prepared for the Thundering Herd football season opener against Miami (Ohio).
It only took 12 seconds for Davis to show his team exactly what Holliday was referring to.
“Doc talked about that, at some point, someone on the team is going to set the tone,” Davis said. “It just so happened that I was that guy. That special teams unit was in a position to set the tone. It helped us tremendously.”
Davis returned the opening kickoff of the season for a 99-yard touchdown that instantly gave Marshall a 7-0 lead and ignited the crowd in Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
Wide receiver Marcel Williams was in his first NCAA Division I game after coming to the Herd from junior college and was on that special teams return unit with Davis.
That first play of his Marshall career was memorable.
“I was in front of him lead-blocking and so I could see the alley he could come through,” Williams said. “I saw the last person (on defense) and I knew it was a touchdown. It was exciting to hear the crowd roar once he got in the end zone and knowing I was a part of that.”
Davis wasn’t done there.
The RedHawks later got a field goal to cut Marshall’s lead to 14-13, but Davis
again found a seam and went 97 yards for another kickoff return touch down to against swing momentum in the direction of the Herd in a 31-26 victory.
Marshall visits Miami (Ohio) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday to open a new season.
Miami (Ohio) coach Chuck Martin remembered the returns well, as he recalled during the Mid-American Conference teleconference on Monday.
“There’s such an ebb and flow,” Martin said. “When you have two teams that are competitive going at it, there’s going to be back-and-forth. We had a 10-7 lead late in the first quarter, so obviously we bounced back from (the first return), but then they return another one and we didn’t quite bounce back as good from the second one as we did the first one.”
Looking ahead to the Saturday matchup, Marshall’s players expect Miami (Ohio) to come out looking to make a statement on their home field, given the way the 2017 game ended and that it was designated as the Homecoming contest for the RedHawks.
“You’d think they’d have a little chip on their shoulder knowing that we only scored seven points offensively,” Marshall center Levi Brown said. “We won the game based off a three-parts-of-the-game performance and it’s something that woke us up, too.”
For Brown and the rest of the Herd, Saturday is expected to be another down-to-the-wire affair that wasn’t decided until the final play.
Davis said it isn’t about being a hero on the field this week.
“We’re going to trust in the plan that the coaches have for us and, really, just play the part of our role,” Davis said. “If everybody takes care of their role individually, hopefully we’ll have a great outcome.”
MARSHALL AT MIAMI (OHIO)
WHEN: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Yager Stadium, Oxford, Ohio
TV: ESPN+ streaming
RADIO: WDGG 93.7-FM, ESPN 94.1-FM and 930-AM