Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

September 1, 2013

Marshall goes on 2nd half splurge

Offense racks up 591 yards in 52-14 thrashing of Miami (Ohio)

HUNTINGTON, W.VA. — It was a slow start, but Marshall found a serious groove on the offensive side of the ball.

Marshall had 591 yards of total offense on its way to defeating Miami (Ohio) 52-14 on Saturday in front of 27,148 at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

The offense really came alive in the final three quarters. The Thundering Herd had just 11 yards in the first quarter and was tied with the RedHawks 14-14 at halftime.

“We talked before the game at the hotel room about overcoming adversity,” Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. “I thought that first half, going into halftime tied up, there was some adversity. But they came out the second half and responded the way a good football team does, and that was great to see.”

Last season, Marshall led the nation in passing offense behind quarterback Rakeem Cato.

Cato continued his offensive proficiency starting the 2013 season, going 22 of 34 for 253 yards and five touchdowns.

The junior, known more as a passing quarterback, also picked up 59 yards rushing in the game.

“I think he had a good understanding of what he needed to do,” Holliday said. “He’s a lot more physical and he’s faster now than he has been the past few years. I thought he made some great decisions.”

Cato’s physicality shined on a play late in the third quarter when a Miami defender hit the quarterback as he was throwing.

The throw still had enough juice on it to find tight end Gator Hoskins in the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown.

“Offensively we got that thing rolling in the second half,” Holliday said. “Our offensive and defensive coaches did a tremendous job today. But the coaches that won the football game was our strength staff. I felt that was a factor in the game.”

Strength was present in the Marshall running game, which gained 304 yards on 57 carries.

Sophomore Steward Butler led the rushing attack with 107 yards on 17 carries. Senior Essray Taliaferro had 89 yards and a touchdown.

Expected starter Kevin Grooms, who had limited playing time because of injury, saw four carries for 53 yards.

After this game, and the success of all three backs, Holliday said all three will keep seeing playing time as the year moves on.

“If you look at those guys they are physically bigger,” Holliday said. “Butler and Taliaferro are excellent backs. We’re going to play all those guys because they are all talented guys who can play.”

On the defensive side of the ball, Marshall allowed over 43 points last season and was a question mark heading into the season.

The Herd answered the question by allowing 14 points, all in the first half.

Marshall also allowed only 55 second-half yards and forced Miami into seven three-and-out series.

“That’s the way you’re supposed to play defense,”  Holliday said. “(Defensive coordinator) Chuck Heater does a great job with the defense. We have good players and we added some faces out there that made some plays today. And I think they’ll continue to get better.”

Marshall ran 94 plays compared to Miami’s 57. Last season Marshall led the nation in plays from scrimmage per game with 90.6.

If Saturday night’s second half is any indication, the Herd aren’t looking to slow down this season.

“When we walked into the locker room at halftime, nobody thought there was an issue,” Holliday said. “They are a confident bunch that works hard and winning is important to them. They went in and took care of business.”

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