A healthy and frisky Brandon Murphy is a wonderful sight for RedHawks fans.
Plagued by an ankle injury last year, Miami's diminutive senior tailback on Thursday showed the explosiveness he demonstrated as a sophomore.
Murphy rushed 19 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns in a 14-13 win at Ball State. His 6-yard score with 17.7 seconds left was the game-winner.
"The thing we — myself and the offensive line — decided to do was to put the game on our backs in the fourth quarter and to make plays," Murphy told the Oxford Press.
A 5-foot-8, 181-pound sparkplug, Murphy averaged 107 yards per game as a sophomore and earned second-team MAC honors. He ran for just 280 yards all of last season because of the ankle injury, and it's no coincidence the RedHawks swooned.
With Murphy back to his old self — that was evident on his 59-yard, first-quarter burst — Miami could be a major turnaround team.
The RedHawks also got a big lift from redshirt freshman receiver Eugene Harris, whose 56-yard punt return set up the game-winning touchdown.
It was Miami's first season-opening win under third-year head coach Shane Montgomery.
GAME BALL GOES TO: RB Brandon Murphy — The 5-foot-8 senior, slowed by an ankle injury last year, carried 19 times for 123 yards and both Miami touchdowns. He had a 59-yard burst up the middle in the first quarter, and his 6-yard score with 17.7 seconds left was the difference.
KEEP AN EYE ON: LB Caleb Bostic — The sophomore made 10 tackles, including a critical stop in the backfield that forced Ball State to settle for a third-quarter field goal.
LOOKING GOOD: The offensive line, led by LT Charlie Norden, created big holes for RB Brandon Murphy and took over the game late. Miami averaged 4.7 yards per carry.
The defense held Ball State QB Nate Davis under 200 yards passing. LBs Clayton Mullins (11 tackles) and Caleb Bostic (10 tackles) were outstanding. Bostic flew into the backfield on third-and-2 from the Miami 3, forcing Ball State to settle for a third-quarter field goal.
Eugene Harris returned three punts for 100 yards, including a 56-yarder to set up the game-winning score.
STILL NEEDS WORK: PK Trevor Cook missed two early field goals.
QB Mike Kokal was just 14-for-24 for 118 yards, with two interceptions.
ROSTER REPORT: Projected starting RG Matt McKeown, who missed the last four games of 2006 with back and shoulder problems, played little against Ball State.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We lost a lot of close ones like that last year, and I thought for us to turn the corner we needed (to win) a close one like that early. To open with a league game makes it that much more important." — Coach Shane Montgomery told the Cincinnati Enquirer.
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