No. 3 West Virginia Survives Strong Challenge From Marshall, 48-23


Marshall's Cody Slate, left, and Darius Passmore celebrate a touchdown against West Virginia during the first half. (AP Photo/Jeff Gentner)

Marshall's Cody Slate, left, and Darius Passmore celebrate a touchdown against West Virginia during the first half. (AP Photo/Jeff Gentner)

Sept. 8, 2007

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HUNTINGTON, W. Va. - Despite a valiant first half effort the Marshall football team was unable to keep pace with third-ranked West Virginia, losing to the Mountaineers 48-23 in the second annual Friends of Coal Bowl on Saturday.

The game marked the first time the two teams met in Huntington since 1915 and the underdog Thundering Herd gave West Virginia all it could handle. The Marshall defense was dominant in the first half, holding WVU running back Steve Slaton to just two yards on five carries and limiting the Mountaineers to only 118 total yards.

Marshall was once again paced by senior quarterback Bernard Morris, who completed 19 of 29 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns. In only his second game, receiver Darius Passmore was Morris' favorite target. The two connected five times for 76 yards. Passmore also had 21 yards rushing on two carries.

Freshman Darius Marshall was the Herd's leading rusher. Marshall racked up 80 yards on just 11 carries and totaled 108 kick return yards.

In the second half, West Virginia was able to wear down the Marshall defense as the Mountaineers rushed for four touchdowns in the final two periods. Mountaineer quarterback Pat White finished the game 13 of 18 passing for 149 yards with two touchdowns. The junior also rushed for 125 yards and one score. Slaton tallied 146 yards on 24 carries with two touchdowns. Freshman running back Noel Devine also scored two late touchdowns.

The Herd struck first in the contest, using a 77-yard Darius Marshall kick return to the Mountaineer 24-yard line set up a 32-yard Anthony Binswanger field goal.

After going three and out on their first drive, the vaunted WVU offense made its first break of the game when White found Reynaud on first and 10 for a 46-yard touchdown strike with 9:23 left in the first quarter.

Marshall regained the lead in the second quarter after an Emmanuel Spann punt return set the Herd up at the WVU 38. On the opening play of drive Morris found Passmore for a 38-yard touchdown strike, giving Marshall a 10-6 lead.

The Herd stretched the lead to 13-6 before the half after another 14-play, 61-yard drive led to another Binswanger field goal.

West Virginia opened up the second half with a seven-play, 66-yard scoring drive. White found Reynaud for their second touchdown connection of the game and tied the score 13-13.

Marshall answered with a nine-play, 80-yard drive of its own to set up a third Binswanger field goal and retake the lead. Darius Marshall carried the load for the Herd, breaking off runs of seven and 28-yards and Morris found E.J. Wynn for a 33-yard strike down the middle of the field.

After starting the next drive on their 48-yard line, the Mountaineers' running game began to show signs of life. Slaton carried the ball four times for 38 yards and White punched in his first rushing score of the day on a 20-yard scamper.

WVU next took advantage of Marshall fumble at the 50 yard line. Slaton eventually punched in a score from one-yard out to give the Mountaineers a 27-16 advantage.

Marshall answered almost immediately with 72 yards in just two plays to cut the lead to 23-27. Passmore led off the scoring march with a 30 run on a reverse to right side and Morris found Cody Slate open on sideline for a 42-yard touchdown pass.

The Herd defense answered the bell on West Virginia's next possession, forcing another three-and-out. After a 15-yard penalty against the Mountaineers on the punt return, Marshall took over at the 50-yard line but were unable to convert after a series of penalties set them back.

The Mountaineers then marched 80-yards in 10 plays, gashing the exhausted Herd defense for 64 yards on the ground. Freshman Noel Devine sealed the win for WVU with a 12-yard touchdown carry.

West Virginia added two late rushing scores by Slaton and Devine produce the final 48-23 margin.