OXFORD, Ohio — Another solid start for the Thundering Herd.
The Marshall football team built a 14-0 first quarter lead and ultimately held on for the program’s eighth straight season-opening victory on Saturday with a 35-28 decision over host Miami (OH) in a non-conference matchup at Yager Stadium.
The Thundering Herd (1-0) — who notched a hard-fought 31-26 season-opening win over Miami last year at Edwards Stadium — once again found themselves in a 60-minute battle with the RedHawks (0-1), despite leading in a wire-to-wire fashion.
The Green and White put together eight- and 12-play drives on their first two possessions, which led to a quick 14-0 advantage with 3:28 remaining in the opening period.
Keion Davis scored on a two-yard run at the 12:26 mark and Anthony Anderson followed with a one-yard scamper that led to a two-score cushion.
The RedHawks produced a pair of punts and turned the ball over on downs on their first three possessions, but the hosts finally broke through late in the second stanza as Jack Sorenson hauled in a 19-yard pass from Gus Ragland. The score capped a 10-play, 76-yard drive that made it a 14-7 contest with 2:32 left before halftime.
Marshall, however, strung together an impressive 11-play, 75-yard drive over the next two minutes, with Anderson again plunging in from a yard out while extending the lead to 21-7 with 21 seconds remaining in the half.
After three consecutive punts to start the second half, Marshall found itself deep in its own territory with possession at the 10 with 9:29 left in the third.
Eight plays, 90 yards and less than three minutes later, the Herd had their largest lead of the night as Tyre Brady caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Isaiah Green with 6:32 remaining for a 28-7 edge.
Miami, however, responded with a six-play, 72-yard drive that ended with an Alonzo Smith one-yard run, cutting the deficit in half at 28-14 with 4:32 left in the third.
Marshall had consecutive punts sandwiched around a goal-line stand at the two while transitioning into the fourth quarter, but the RedHawks answered on their next possession with an Andrew Homer six-yard touchdown pass from Ragland.
Miami covered 61 yards in three plays and closed to within 28-21 with 9:20 left in regulation.
Both teams traded three-and-out punts, but a 50-yard return by Tyler King allowed the Herd to take over on downs at the Miami 11.
Marshall was moved back 10 yards on a first down holding penalty, but Green found Brady on a 21-yard scoring strike on the next play as the guests secured a 35-21 edge with 5:27 to go.
The Red and White needed just seven plays to march 75 yards down the field as Kenny Young capped the drive with a three-yard touchdown pass from Ragland, again making it a one-possession game at 35-28 with 3:31 remaining.
Marshall started its next drive at its own two and ultimately punted the ball back to Miami, giving the hosts possession at their own 43 with 3:02 left. The Herd, however, actually moved Miami backwards before forcing a loss of downs.
The guests ran three plays to milk the final 2:22 off of the scoreboard, giving Marshall its fifth consecutive victory over the RedHawks.
Marshall had one more first down (24-23) and one fewer yard of total offense (444-443) than the hosts, and neither team committed a turnover. The Herd also had seven of the 12 punts in the contest.
The RedHawks claimed a 357-272 advantage in passing yards, but the guests had a 171-87 edge on the ground.
Green was solid in his first career start under center, completing 24-of-37 passes for 272 yards and two scores. The redshirt freshman — who was named the starter just hours before kickoff — also ran for 22 yards on eight carries.
Davis led the Herd rushing attack with 76 yards and a score, while King had 67 yards on 10 attempts. Anderson also amassed six yards and two scores on three totes.
Marshall had eight different receivers haul in a pass, with Brady leading the way with nine catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns. Obi Obialo was next with six catches for 47 yards, while Tyler King also grabbed three passes for 32 yards.
Malik Gant paced the Marshall defense with 12 tackles and the team’s lone sack. Chase Hancock was next with 11 tackles, while Chris Jackson and Frankie Hernandez respectively added seven and five stops.
Kicker Justin Rohrwasser was also a perfect 5-for-5 on point-after tries in his Marshall debut.
Ragland completed 25-of-46 passes for 357 yards and three touchdowns, hitting eight different receivers with at least one pass. Sorenson led the Miami wideouts with 106 yards on three catches, while Young had six grabs for 47 yards.
Smith paced the Miami ground attack with 35 yards on eight carries, with Young also adding 34 yards on eight attempts.
Junior McMullen led the RedHawks with nine tackles, followed by Brad Koenig with eight stops and a sack.
Marshall makes its 2018 debut at Joan C. Edwards Stadium on Saturday when Eastern Kentucky — fresh off a 49-23 win over Morehead State — comes to town for a non-conference matchup at 6:30 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.