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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Marshall won the first half but West Virginia won the game. Patrick White threw for 149 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 125 yards and another score to lead the No. 3-rated Mountaineers to a 48-23 victory over Marshall Saturday at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington.
It was West Virginia’s first appearance in Huntington in 92 years and it looked initially like the Mountaineers were walking into an ambush.
“We were fortunate to get out of here with a win,” said West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez. “We knew we were going to be in a tough environment and take their best shot and we did. They were well prepared and played hard.”
“This is as good as we’ve played offensively, defensively and special teams since I’ve been here and that’s what it was going to take – a Herculean effort to play this team,” said Marshall coach Mark Snyder. “They’re going to contend for a national championship this year.”
Marshall set the tone early when Darius Marshall took the game’s opening kickoff and ran 77 yards to the West Virginia 23. That run set up Anthony Binswanger’s 32-yard field goal.
West Virginia briefly retook the lead when White found Darius Reynaud wide open over the middle for a 46-yard touchdown hookup, but Marshall got its first TD of the game on a Bernie Morris-to-Darius Passmore 38-yard pass in the right corner of the end zone. Marshall tacked on three more right before the end of the half when Binswanger punched through a 26-yard field goal at the gun.
“We’re rolling, things are going according to plan and you know they’re going to score and they’re going to make some plays – they’re a good offense,” said Snyder.
“Nobody panicked at halftime – I didn’t scream and yell,” Rodriguez said. “We just kind of got together, made a few adjustments offensively … a few formations and a few plays we wanted to get going because we couldn’t get any rhythm and get our defense off the field.
“They outnumbered us at times in the run game and that’s why we had to make a few adjustments at halftime and that’s why we had to make a few adjustments with our formations in the second half,” Rodriguez said.
At that point West Virginia woke up by scoring three straight touchdowns. White found Reynaud out in the flat for a 23-yard score to tie the game, and a pair of TD runs by White and Slaton gave the Mountaineers an 11-point advantage.
From there West Virginia chose to keep the ball on the ground using All-American Steve Slaton, fullback Owen Schmitt and true freshman Noel Devine.
After another Marshall touchdown pulled the Herd to within four, 27-23, Devine scored the game-turning TD with 10:28 remaining in the fourth quarter. The 12-yard run was his second career rushing touchdown.
“I thought in the fourth quarter their front kicked our front’s butt,” Snyder said. “Their offensive line won the battle in the trenches.”
Devine cleaned things up with his second touchdown from 10 yards and finished the game with 76 yards on just five carries.
“We’ve got to get Noel into the game sooner,” Rodriguez said. “I think Steve got tired and Noel had some fresh legs. He’s learning what we’re doing very quickly when the ball is in his hands – he’s got a gift and it was good to see him make a few nice runs late in the game.”
Slaton, after being held to just two first-half yards, finished the game with 146 on 24 carries. Reynaud caught eight passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns.
“Some of it was some of the plays we were running,” Rodriguez said. “He didn’t get a whole lot of room in the first half. Steve played just as hard in the first half as he did in the second half – we just got him a few lanes and he was able to make a few plays.”
White completed 13 of 18 passes but his completion percentage could have been even higher had there not been a few drops by West Virginia wide receivers.
“When people cheat in the box there are certain answers to certain things that you have to go to in our offense and we did that at times and at other times we didn’t do a good job of that,” Rodriguez said.
The Mountaineers (2-0) finished the game with 511 yards of offense including 362 on the ground – mostly in the second half against a worn-out Marshall defense. WVU had 24 first downs and 42 second-half points. It was the most points in a half since 2001 when West Virginia scored 59 in the first half against Rutgers.
“We had to do some things to equal the numbers in the run game,” Rodriguez admitted. “They were out-numbering us and we hit a few passes, but our execution was just very poor (in the first half). Some of it was them and some of it was us.”
Morris completed 19 of 29 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns and Marshall led the Herd with 81 yards on the ground on 11 tries.
“You have to give them a lot of credit, their staff and their players, because they did a heck of a job,” Rodriguez said of Marshall.
Marshall drops to 0-2 with the loss.
The Mountaineers have a short turnaround traveling to Maryland for a Thursday night game that will be televised on ESPN. Maryland (1-0) is playing at Florida International tonight.
MAR – Binswanger 32 FG
WV – Reynaud 46 pass from White (PAT failed)
MAR – Passmore 38 pass from Morris (Binswanger)
MAR – Binswanger 26 FG
WV – White 20 run (McAfee kick)
WV – Slaton 2 run (McAfee kick)
MAR – Slate 42 pass from Morris (Binswanger kick)
WV – Devine 12 run (McAfee kick)
WV – Slaton 18 run (McAfee kick)
WV – Devine 10 run (McAfee kick)
RUSHING: WVU - Slaton 24-146, White 18-125, Devine 5-76, Schmitt 4-14, Reynaud 1-minus 1, Total 52-362; MAR - Marshall 11-80, Passmore 2-21, Turner 6-16, Small 2-4, Morris 11-0, Total 32-121.
PASSING: WVU - White 13-18-0-149-2; MAR - Morris 19-29-0-256-2, Anderson 1-2-0-10-0, Team 0-1-0-0-0, Total 20-32-0-266-2.
RECEIVING: WVU - Reynaud 8-126, Schmitt 1-16, Slaton 2-10, Jalloh 2-minus 3, Total 13-149; MAR - Slate 5-82, Passmore 5-76, Wynn 2-43, Lauzon 2-29, Turner 2-13, Small 2-8, Spann 1-8, Fitzgerald 1-7, Total 20-266.