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2017 MAC Football Week 1 Recap: The Miami RedHawks Drop A Heart Breaker to the Thundering Herd

NCAA Football: St. Petersburg Bowl-Miami (Ohio) at Mississippi State Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami RedHawks and Marshall Thundering Herd was one of the best rivalries in the MAC. It has been renewed, at least briefly. Currently, it’s only for a 2 game series, but according to the broadcasters, there are at least preliminary talks to make it a more permanent fixture to each team’s schedule. I think I can speak for most that a rekindling of this rivalry would be good for the programs and college football in general.

Another interesting aspect of this game was that the broadcast was available exclusively on Facebook. It was a commercial free broadcast, with the announcers responding to comments left by viewers. Darius Walker and Chris Hassell were in the booth and Shae Peppler was on the sideline. Jake was the social media guy that was also on the sideline and all did a fantastic job. I never did catch his last name. My apologies, Jake.

First Half

Things did not start off well for the RedHawks. Keion Davis took the opening kick off to the house and it was a an indicator of things to come in several ways.

Miami answered with a field goal.

The Thundering Herd then went on the move, and their superior athleticism was starting to show on the outside. They looked a foot taller and a second faster than their Miami counterparts. Someone even compared Miami-FLA transfer Tyre Brady to Randy Moss. That was a big much, but he is a big, fast target. Miami’s secondary was playing well, they just looked over matched.

Junior linebacker Brad Koeing made a great play on another Marshall completion and caused a fumble. Heath Hardling scooped it up and took it to the three. Then one of weirdest sequences I have ever witnessed took place. After keeping Miami out of the end zone on the first three downs, Miami decided to go for it on 4th and goal from the one. Marshall called a timeout because they only had 10 men on the field. Miami lined up and called a timeout after seeing the defense. Not unusual. The Miami called a second consecutive timeout. It worked, because Gus Ragland was able to punch it in on sheer effort.

After Miami took the lead 10-7 on a field goal later in the second quarter, Keion Davis muffed a kickoff and had it dribble out of bounds at the 2. Marshall was undeterred and marched down to take a 14-10 lead. Miami responded with a field goal. Keion Davis answered with his second kick off touch down return of the half.

Marshall led at the half, 21-13.

Miami had a balanced attack with 153 yards. They had 62 rushing yards and 91 passing.

Marshall gained 164 yards, mostly through the air. They only rushed for 32 yards.

Marshall QB Chase Litton completed 17 of 24 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown. Gus Ragland completed 9 of 17 for 91 yards and had the running touchdown.

Both coaches felt mistakes cost them. Doc Holliday lamented the turnovers, while Chuck Martin upset with the turnovers.

Second Half

The defenses stepped up in the second half, with both teams trading punts. The first scoring came on a pick that Gus Ragland threw that Chris Jackson returned for a touchdown.

Ragland and the offense responded well with a sustained touchdown drive. Marshall answered with a field goal, and led 31-20 with 11:31 left. After a key first down on a 4th and three, the Miami offense scored another touchdown with a Ryan Smith 19 yard touchdown reception. The two point conversion left the score 31-26.

Miami was able to force a Marshall punt with 5:19 left in the game. The Miami return man did a great job following “the rule” and let a punt hit at the 9 that traveled into the end zone.

James Gardner made a huge catch on third and 5 along the sideline to keep the Miami drive alive.

The Marshall defense responded with a sack on Ragland and sniffing out a screen forcing him to throw it in the dirt, leaving a third and 18 with 2: 37 left. The coverage was able to force Ragland into a short run and Miami punted on fourth and 15.

Miami had two minutes and 2 timeouts to try and get the ball back. The “We Are” “Marshall” chants were reverberating through the stadium.

The RedHawks held and needed to go 83 yards in 53 seconds. A 23 yard pass to Ryan Smith put the ball near midfield, and after a few more plays a completion put the ball at the 40 with 5 seconds left. The Hail Mary was knocked out of the back of the end zone, and Marshall won the game 31-26.

Gus Ragland threw for 298 yards on 44 attempts, completing 23. He had 2 touchdowns to 1 pick. Chase Litton was 20 for 30 for 208 yards with 1 pick and 1 touchdown.

Miami’s Alonzo Smith led all rushers with 59 yards.

Miami gained 429 yards with 298 passing and 131 on the ground. Marshall only managed 267 yards.

Miami is going to be kicking themselves because of the 3 return touchdowns.

The RedHawks host Austin Peay on Sept. 9th.

Marshall travels to Raleigh to take on North Carolina State on the same day.