Green starts, leads Marshall to victory
OXFORD, Ohio — One hour prior to Saturday’s game, Marshall University named redshirt freshman Isaiah Green as its starting quarterback.
It didn’t take long for Green to show Thundering Herd football fans why he earned that position.
Green led Marshall to touchdowns on its first two drives and the Herd held off a late rally en route to a 35-28 win over Miami (Ohio) to spoil Homecoming at Yager Stadium.
It was all part of a wild opening game for the 2018 season that featured a 2 1/2-hour weather delay and many twists and turns.
“I’m just proud of the kids with the way we responded,” Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. “We sat in that locker room for about five hours on the road and. ... I was concerned, but I thought they came out and played extremely well.”
The victory was Marshall’s fifth straight win over the RedHawks, but like last year’s 31-26 win in Huntington, it came with plenty of late drama.
Marshall led 28-7 midway through the third quarter, but Miami (Ohio) rallied behind quarterback Gus Ragland.
After a Ragland touchdown pass pulled the RedHawks within 35-28 with 3:31 left, the Herd committed a special teams error when Tyler King brought the ball out of the end zone off a squib kick and was tackled at the 2-yard line.
Following a Marshall three-and-out, Miami (Ohio) took over at its own 43 looking to knot the game, but Channing Hames batted down a fourth-down pass from Ragland to help the Herd escape with the win.
“Miami is a good football team offensively,” Holliday said. “That Ragland guy, he just drives you freaking crazy and 81 (James Gardner) is a good player. Anytime you can go on the road and win, it’s huge.”
Hames’ pass deflection ended a contest full of second-half momentum swings.
Marshall led throughout the contest, but the RedHawks had chances to knot things up in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 28-21, the RedHawks thought they had a completion to James Gardner that would’ve moved the ball into Marshall territory, but Gardner was called for offensive pass interference and Miami (Ohio) was forced to punt.
King took the punt and returned it 50 yards to the Miami (Ohio) 11 before Green connected with Tyre Brady for a 21-yard touchdown play in which Brady caught the ball while being interfered with by a Miami (Ohio) defender to restore the two-score advantage.
In the first game under new offensive coordinator Tim Cramsey, Marshall’s offense found balance against the RedHawks, gaining 443 yards of total offense in the win.
Green was efficient in his debut, completing 24 of 37 passes for 272 yards with two scores. Both scores went to Brady, who caught nine passes for 116 yards and two scores.
Brady lauded the redshirt freshman quarterback for his performance in his first game.
“Zay, you know he saw a lot of different looks out there tonight and he took advantage of them,” Brady said. “He did a great job out there.”
Green said that he was ready to go, no matter what the situation -- weather delay or otherwise.
“I wasn’t really nervous to begin the game,” Green said. “My adrenaline was just super-high, through the roof. I was ready. If we had come out and been down a score, I still would’ve been ready. That’s just how I play the game.”
The first touchdown pass of Green’s career came on a 30-yard touchdown toss to Brady that gave the Herd a 28-7 lead midway through the third quarter.
Marshall took a 14-0 lead late in the first quarter after the first of two touchdowns for Anthony Anderson.
Anderson later capped an 11-play, 75-yard drive on a 2-yard score with 21 seconds left in the first half to give the Herd a 21-7 lead at the half.
Ragland finished the game 25 of 46 for 357 yards passing and three touchdowns.
Marshall returns to action next week in the home opener against Eastern Kentucky, which is a 6:30 p.m. kickoff at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.