Davis, Green enjoy last ride together
HUNTINGTON — Somewhere in a small town named Fairburn just outside of Atlanta, there is a big family gathering for Christmas — one full of food, love and plenty of stories.
One of those stories to be shared this Christmas is the memory of Thursday’s Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.
For two cousins from Marshall University’s football team, it is a story they will tell for years to come.
All season long was special for Marshall senior running back Keion Davis and freshman quarterback Isaiah Green as they got to play together.
But there isn’t much that can top that feeling of Thursday’s 38-20 win over the University of South Florida when Davis was named as the Most Valuable Player after rushing for 94 yards and two touchdowns, including a 16-yard score late to add the exclamation point on the win.
“Keion, he’s a special player,” Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. “He’s been that way and he makes things happen every time he gets the opportunity to play, so I’m proud of him with the way he went in there and stepped up when he had to and made plays.”
Davis was all smiles following the game, whether it was on the podium while the team received its trophy and he accepted the MVP award or in the post-game press conference, which was the last time he represented Marshall’s football program.
“I’m just thankful,” Davis said. “I’m 3-0 in bowl games, thanks to Doc and our preparation. Nobody prepares for bowl games like us. That’s truly the truth.”
Much like the season, Davis and Green got to share the stage again for
that post-game press conference, and they didn’t disappoint.
Green fired the first shot toward his cousin in the interviews.
“I’m going to let him go first because you know his answer will be short,” Green said.
Davis took the joke in stride, then countered with a detailed story about how they were in the hotel in the hours leading up to the game and Green kept saying he was going to win the MVP award.
Davis looked at the hardware in front of him, then flashed a look and a smile Green’s way.
“Now, we’ve got a lot to talk about on our drive back to Atlanta, Georgia,” Davis said. “It was kind of funny. I (didn’t) even bring it up. He brought it up. But it was fun — me and my cousin, out there playing, getting to play my senior year and sharing that experience.”
In the end, Green couldn’t have been happier about how things played out, especially for Davis, whose performance came after he fought back from injuries that plagued him throughout the season.
“For me, it feels good to be able to send my cousin out on a good note and not have a sour feeling of his last game, his last experience in a Marshall uniform,” Green said. “It’s funny that he brought it up (MVP) because I did say that. I said I was going to try to win the MVP. It’s just crazy how he was able to stay resilient and fight back. He was dealing with some injuries, but he stayed in it, fought back and showed up today. I’m just so happy for him to be able to end his career like that.”
While Davis earned the MVP honors, Green’s effort was also among the most pivotal performances for Marshall.
Green finished the game completing 17 of 25 passes for 221 yards while spreading the ball around to his targets. The Herd’s freshman quarterback also notched his first rushing touchdown in a Marshall uniform on a 10-yard run that started the day’s scoring.
“Don’t forget the stiff-arm on that play, too, now,” Green said, smiling.
More importantly, Green did not have a turnover despite wet conditions that intensified midway through the first half and that was one of the biggest factors in the win.
“Obviously, that felt good to put on a solid performance in front of the whole world,” Green said. “You know, we were the only game on, ESPN, 8 o’clock. It felt real good to be able to show people that just because I’m a freshman don’t mean that I can’t play this game.”
The win meant plenty for both players — some reasons similar, some different.
Davis put the stamp on a Marshall career in which he has been a part of four bowl victories in five years, playing in three of those wins. For Green, the turnover-free performance was a strong end to a freshman campaign that helps propel him into spring football and his sophomore season.
That is the individual meaning behind Thursday’s win.
As a collective, though, the game was a gift in the form of a memory, that the two players and their families will cherish forever.
And as they count their blessings on Christmas Day, the bowl game will certainly be among them.