Brady dazzles, Herd overcomes adversity to win Green's debut

Updated 2 weeks ago Special to HNN Provided by Herd Zone
Brady dazzles, Herd overcomes adversity to win Green's debut
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By Chuck McGill

HerdZone.com

OXFORD, OhioDoc Holliday, beginning his ninth season as Marshall University's football coach, said the naming of the team's new starting quarterback would be a game-time decision. Then, the game was delayed – twice.

When the Thundering Herd and host Miami RedHawks finally got underway here at Yager Stadium, it was redshirt freshman Isaiah Green at quarterback for a 6 p.m. start. After a two-and-a-half-hour delay, Green and Marshall's offense looked sharp in the Herd's 35-28 season-opening win on Miami's homecoming.

"I'm proud of the kids the way they responded," Holliday said. "We sat in that locker room for about five hours on the road. I was concerned, but they came out and played extremely well. We found a way to win."

Green finished 24 of 37 passing for 272 yards and two touchdowns, an impressive showing for the 19-year-old college football rookie. That ranks as the fourth-most passing yards by a Marshall quarterback in his debut in program history. Green also 22 rushing yards and did not throw an interception.

"We had a freshman quarterback go in there and take care of the football," Holliday said. "We had zero turnovers."

Green had plenty of help, too.

Anthony Anderson – a 240-pound senior running back – provided the thunder after a couple of pre-game lightning delays. He scored twice in the first half – a 1-yard run in the first quarter and another 1-yard plunge in the second – for his first multi-touchdown game of his Herd career. Fellow senior Keion Davis scored on Green's first series, a 2-yard run that gave Marshall a 7-0 lead with 12:26 left of the first quarter. The Herd led for the final 57 minutes and 26 seconds.

Senior receiver Tyre Brady, who began the season on the Biletnikoff Watch List, dazzled. He had game-highs in receptions (nine) and yards (116), and caught touchdown passes for 30 and 21 yards in the second half. It was Brady's third multi-touchdown game of his two-year MU career, and his fourth 100-yard receiving performance.

The defense did its part, too, without all-conference defensive lineman Ryan Bee. Miami's offense did not cross midfield until there was 11:30 left of the second quarter, and at one point in the first half Marshall held a 9-1 advantage in first downs and 180-13 edge in total offense.

Although the Herd defense did not force a turnover, Miami was stopped three times on fourth-down attempts. The first came with 8:44 left of the second quarter when the RedHawks' Alonzo Smith was held to a 1-yard gain on fourth-and-2 at the Marshall 30. Senior defensive lineman Malik Thompson and senior linebacker Chase Hancock combined for that stop. Early in the fourth quarter, Gus Ragland's fourth-down pass on the 2 was broken up by Marshall cornerback Chris Jackson to give the ball on the Herd. Marshall led 28-14 at that point, but Miami elected not to attempt the chip-shot field goal and the Herd offense took over on its own 2.

Then, in the twilight of the fourth quarter and holding a 35-28 lead, the Marshall defense again forced a turnover on downs. Miami began the drive at its own 43 with a chance to tie the game, but lost 5 yards on four plays to seal the game.

Marshall led 14-0 after the first quarter, but Miami cut that lead in half when Ragland found Jack Sorenson for a 19-yard touchdown pass with 2:32 left of the half. The Herd answered, marching 75 yards on 11 plays to score on Anderson's second touchdown run for a 21-7 halftime lead.

Brady then made the first of his acrobatic touchdown catches, a 30-yarder that counted as Green's first collegiate touchdown pass. After the RedHawks closed the gap to 28-21 with 9:20 left of the fourth quarter, Brady again contorted his body and dragged a foot inbounds for a 21-yard haul.

"They were wrapped all over him all day long, but the kid made some circus catches out there," Holliday said. "I'm glad he's on our side."

After Brady's second touchdown reception with 5:27 left of the fourth quarter, Miami again made it a one-score game when Kenny Young caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Miami QB Gus Ragland. Marshall held a 35-28 lead with 3:31 left. Then, on the ensuing kickoff, Tyler King was stopped at the 2-yard line with 3:26 left. The Herd offense went three-and-out, setting up the end-game scenario.

Green was sacked twice, but did not commit a turnover. Davis started at running back and led the team with 76 rushing yards on 17 carries. King added 67 rushing yards on 10 carries – a 6.7 average. Anderson gained 6 yards on three short-yardage attempts.

In addition to Brady's big day, Obi Obialo caught six passes for 47 yards. King snagged three balls for 32 yards. Tight end Xavier Gaines made a 33-yard catch, the longest for the MU offense.

Safety Malik Gant finished with a team-high 12 tackles. Chase Hancock added 11. Gant was recorded with the team's only sack on an intentional grounding call.

Green and the MU offense scored touchdowns on the team's first two possessions, an eight-play, 75-yard drive followed by a 12-play, 80-yard drive.

"He played a good game tonight, played within himself, played smart and held onto the football," Cramsey said of his freshman QB. "I don't look at him as a freshman. He did what we expect him to do."

Chuck McGill is the Assistant Athletic Director for Fan/Donor Engagement and Communications at Marshall University and a six-time winner of the National Sports Media Association West Virginia Sportswriter of the Year award. In addition to HerdZone.com's Word on the Herd, McGill is the editor of Thundering Herd Illustrated, Marshall's official athletics publication. Follow him on Twitter (@chuckmcgill) and Instagram (wordontheherd).

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