HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – It's not likely that the Marshall football purposely was trying to match the lopsided score Miami (Ohio) hung on the Thundering Herd in 1971, a drubbing that sparked ill feelings between the Herd and the RedHawks. Regardless, Marshall came pretty close.
The Herd turned a close game into a trouncing with three third-quarter touchdowns and a surprisingly stifling defense, as Marshall opened the 2013 season with a 52-14 win over Miami on Saturday night at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
It was Marshall's seventh win in the last eight games over Miami, though it was nine seasons between the sixth and seventh victory. The Herd (1-0) beat Miami 33-25 in 2004 and the series stayed dormant until this season. It also marked Marshall's first season-opening win since 2009, when the Herd beat Southern Illinois, 31-28.
The last time Marshall defeated a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent to open the season, the Herd beat Clemson 13-10 to open the 1999 campaign.
For two quarters, though, it was a distinctly different atmosphere at Edwards Stadium, because it was a much different show from the Herd in the first half. Opening-day jitters allowed the RedHawks to stake an early 7-0 lead after quarterback Austin Boucher hit Dawan Scott for a 45-yard strike, then found tight end Steve Marck in the end zone for an eight-yard score.
Meanwhile, the Marshall offense that scorched nearly every opponent in 2012 couldn't gain a single first down in the first quarter and didn't put one on the board until about 12 minutes remained in the half. The offense finally got going in the second quarter, but the Herd and RedHawks went into halftime tied 14-14.
"We talked at the hotel (on Friday) about being able to overcome adversity," Holliday said. "I said I know we're a better football team, but I'm anxious to see how you handle that.
"Going in there tied up at halftime, I thought there was some adversity," he added. "But they came out the second half and responded the way that a good football team does, and that was great to see."
As soon as Marshall emerged from the locker room, its offense was back to its high-tempo, high-output self and its defense showed resilience it rarely showed in 2012. Herd quarterback Rakeem Cato threw three third-quarter touchdowns – 20-yard and 14-yard passes to tight end Gator Hoskins sandwiching a 16-yard strike to Craig Wilkins – and five overall. He finished the night with 253 yards and no interceptions on 22-of-34 passing. Marshall also rolled up 304 rushing yards for the game.
The defense, among the nation's worst last season, gave Miami no room to move in the second half. The RedHawks could gain just 55 yards were held scoreless in the final two quarters. After completing nine of 12 passes for 150 yards and a score in the first half, Boucher completed just one of 10 passes for 15 yards and an interception – returned 27 yards for a touchdown by linebacker Raheem Waiters – in the second half.