Miami Knocks Off Marshall, 31-3

It was the final opener at the Orange Bowl for the Miami Hurricanes and the first game as head coach for Miami's own Randy Shannon. The Thundering Herd played hard, but hurt its cause with turnovers and penalties at the ‘Canes made it a happy first and last opener on Saturday with a 31-3 win over Marshall.

Marshall coach Mark Snyder was short for words to discuss the loss. "Their front four just took over," said Snyder of a Miami front who held the Herd to just 51 yards on the ground and helped create four interceptions with pressure, or actually catching the ball as Calais Campbell did late in the second quarter to set up another short field for Miami.

That was the story of the first half. Marshall moved the ball, gaining 158 of 234 yards in total offense and seven of the 13 first downs in the game. But two pass interceptions set up two touchdowns for Miami, and Marshall shot itself in the foot with slips on key plays and eight penalties for nearly 50 yards of loss. "We've still got a long way to go," said Snyder. "We have got to get better." When asked about preparing for the upcoming game with West Virginia in Huntington next Saturday, Snyder was ready to move on. "We've got to put this game behind us," said Snyder. "We'll go back to work tomorrow (Sunday)."

Miami's offense was not spectacular, but very efficient. Freshman Graig Cooper rushed for 116 yards on just 12 carries while sophomore Javarris James rushed for 99 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns. Starting quarterback Kirby Freeman ran the offense and limited mistakes, turning the ball over only once when Maurice Kitchens grabbed his first career interception in the third quarter. He hit 9-of-21 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown, while running for 13 more yards.

Marshall Bernard Morris was hurried on most every throw, once the Hurricanes shut down the MU run game. Marshall only rushed for 51 yards on 32 carries in the game. Morris rushed for 57 in gains, but was sacked for 28 yards in losses. Morris was 16-for-26 with three interceptions and 162 yards. Brian Anderson, the red-shirt freshman, played one series in the first half and much of the fourth quarter and was 3-of-8 with one interception and 21 yards passing.

The bright spot on offense was the overall play of true freshman Darius Marshall. Marshall carried three times for 14 yards; caught a team-leading five passes, for 17 more yards; and had three kickoff returns for 49 yards. That gave him a team best 89 yards in all-purpose yardage. Marshall went in for kickoffs after Courtney Edmonson, who caught three passes for 58 yards and had a 50-yard effort called back for a holding call, caught a ball, backed into the end zone and then ran the ball out to be tackled at the ten. Throughout the game, Marshall found itself backed up inside the 20-yard line while Miami had numerous short field opportunities.

Anthony Binswanger was another bright spot. Although he missed a 49-yard field goal to end the first half, he put the Herd on the board with a 37-yard effort in the fourth. As a punter, he had five for a 41.4 yard average. Binswanger had to punt as starter Marty Biagi is still out with a knee injury from the spring and Jake Fields was hurt this fall camp.

Marshall's defense did a good job the entire first half, holding Miami to just 153 total yards. The Herd offense had 158 by half, but had no points to show for a nearly three-minute edge in possession. For the game, Marshall had a 34:04 to 25:56 time of possession edge.

First half mistakes came back to haunt the Herd, as two Marshall turnovers led to two Miami scores. A questionable interception by Tavares Gooden of Miami, off the hands of MU running back Chubb Small, was returned to the one-yard line when Bernard Morris made the tackle. A review was buzzed for the Atlantic Coast Conference crew, but they ruled it came after Kirby Freeman found tight end DaiLeon Farr for a touchdown. That gave Miami a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, as the Hurricane's initial drive was limited to a 34-yard field goal by Francisco Zampogna, the sixth-year senior's first-ever field goal attempt.

Late in the second half, Morris had Small open in the flat for what appeared to be a wide-open play. But Morris has never faced an end like Campbell. The 6-foot-8, 280-pound senior jumped like a center blocking a long shot in basketball and intercepted the ball intended for Small. Miami would go 24 yards in just two plays, with James scoring from five yards away to give the ‘Canes a 17-0 lead. Marshall would drive the ball down the field with two long passes to Edmonson, but only one stood as John Inman was called for holding on Campbell. "We looked like an immature team," said Mark Snyder at the end of the half. "We made too many mistakes."

Those mistakes would include eight penalties for minus-47 yards to just one for minus-10 against the Hurricanes of the ACC. Another reviewed play, the first actually ruled on, was Morris making a first down for the Herd. The play, on review, was re-marked with his knee at the eight and the Herd turned the ball over on downs instead of being poised to score.

The Marshall defense held Miami to 0-for-4 on third downs in the first half. Marshall also forced two fumbles, but could not recover strips by John Saunders and a loose ball from Freeman.

Marshall will have to re-group in a hurry, as No. 3-ranked West Virginia comes to Huntington for the first time in 92 years this coming Saturday. The Mountaineers defeated Marshall 42-10 last year in Morgantown.

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