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Murray Makes His Mark


Latavius Murray had a short night on Thursday, but the young running back made the most of his time on the field en route to a 24-20 win for the Oakland Raiders.

With 6:38 left in the first quarter, the second-year player took the handoff from Derek Carr and bounced the ball outside, galloping 11 yards into the end zone to give the Raiders an early 7-0 lead.

The former UCF Knight wasn't done yet though.

With 12:40 left in the first half, Murray once again found himself celebrating in the end zone with Raider Nation as he took a handoff from Carr, and after making a cut, ran 90 yards upfield for his second score of the game.

"I didn't know what was happening because I was blocking my guy, and then all I heard was the crowd erupt," said LT Donald Penn when describing the long run. "I looked up and he was running free. It felt so good."

After spending the entirety of his rookie campaign on Injured Reserve with a foot injury last season, the two trips to the end zone were Murray's first scores as an Oakland Raider and as a professional.

Later in the first half Murray suffered a concussion and did not return to the ballgame, but he had made his mark.

He had carried the ball four times for 112 yards and two touchdowns, and became the first player in NFL history to gain at least 110 yards on less than five carries.

Following his team's first win of the 2014 campaign, Interim Head Coach Tony Sparano spoke about the young back's impressive day at the office.

"Did he earn more snaps? Yeah, that was kind of obvious," Coach Sparano said. "We put him in there early and we got him going early. When you run the ball the way he ran the ball today, he earns more snaps, no doubt about it."

He continued on to talk about the progress he had seen from Murray throughout the season.

"I just think we've seen him get better and better in practice and doing some good things.

"Latavius is a big back that can break some tackles and we wanted to see what he can do. Little by little when you put him there, he kind of jumped out at you. The plan today was clearly to get him going. We wanted to get him going early in the game and we did."

T Menelik Watson was drafted in 2013, the same year as Murray, and was thrilled to see his draft classmate excel on Thursday Night Football.

"We just told him to trust in us and trust in the holes and see what he sees and hit it hard," Watson said. "That's all him. That's all on him. He's putting his head down. He's running hard. He's breaking tackles and that's all on him."

LT Donald Penn echoed Watson's statement and said that he spoke to Murray prior to the game about providing a spark to the run game.

"He [Murray] came in and gave us a spark last week and I said, 'we need that same spark this week again,' and he answered," Penn said after the win. "He has been sitting back there observing a lot and when he got in he knew what holes to hit and where to go and he did a good job."

When the final whistle blew, the Raiders had run for 179 yards on the ground, their highest rushing total of the season.

The team will have tomorrow off, and then return to the facility on Monday to begin preparation for their Week 13 match-up against the St. Louis Rams. "I think Tony [Sparano] said it best; we can't forget this feeling," said Austin Howard. "We can't forget how it feels to win.  To go out there and do something that a lot said we can't; overall, we just can't forget this feeling."

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