Marshall "Ground" Up By WVU Rush Attack, 42-7

Marshall came into the first half of the sixth game all-time with West Virginia knowing the top-ranked Mountaineers would be a real test in the 2006 opener. MU did not know it would be short Chris Terrell, a 340-pound senior defensive tackle, to slow the WVU rushing attack. WVU put up 314 yards of total offense and 191 of that rushing to lead 28-7 at the half, en route to the 42-10 win.

The Thundering Herd found out just before the Friends of Coal Bowl game that the NCAA had ruled Terrell ineligible, although Marshall will appeal the decision. It's certainly no sure thing Terrell would have helped much, as the Mountaineers ran over, around and through the Thundering Herd in winning by more than four touchdowns. It was total domination by the Mountaineers, ranked No. 5 in the Associated Press poll and No. 7 in the ESPN Coaches Poll. West Virginia out-gained Marshall on the ground, 312 to 154, and through the air, 173 to 168. Steve Slaton led all rushers with 203 and two touchdowns, while Patrick White threw for two scores on 10-of-14 for 168 passing and ran for 48 yards.

"They probably deserve the ranking they've got," said Marshall linebacker Matt Couch of WVU after the game. "Very few weaknesses. They ran the ball on us, and we couldn't get stops when we needed stops."

"I didn't think they'd be able to run the ball on us like that," added Marshall coach Mark Snyder. "I'm very disappointed in that. We've got a lot of stuff to work on."

Marshall took the field at a sold-out inaugural Friends of Coal Bowl in Morgantown.

After a tough first half in which West Virginia out-gained Marshall 314 to 155, Marshall opened the second half by getting a rare three-and-out, forcing the Mountaineers to punt. But after driving to the WVU 39-yard line, Quinton Andrews of West Virginia stepped in front of a Bernard Morris pass intended for Cody Slate and returned the ball to the WVU 34-yard line. It took West Virginia only seven plays to drive 66 yards for another touchdown, this one by fullback Owen Schmitt. West Virginia led 35-7. The Herd answered with a nine-play, 42-yard drive, capped by kicker Anthony Binswanger's first-ever field goal at Marshall and in Division I-A. The 43 yard attempt split the uprights and cut WVU's lead to 35-10.

The Mountaineers punted to the Herd to start the fourth quarter. The Herd again drove to the WVU 27-yard line, only to be turned away again when Eric Wicks wrapped up B. Morris for no gain on fourth and two. Bradshaw had a gain of 31 yards wiped out by a block in the back, one of 11 penalties on the Herd for minus-120 yards in the game. He did catch a 14-yard screen from Morris and rush for 19 more in the drive.

Albert McClellan wrapped up WVU back Owen Schmitt.

WVU Coach Rich Rodriguez left his starters in with under 8:00 to play, piling up more yards for Slaton who was finally pulled when he topped the 200 yard rushing mark (Slaton finished with 203). To add insult to injury, WVU hit two passes in the final minutes, including a 45-yard pass from White to Tito Gonzales, to move the ball 77 yards to down inside the five-yard line. Backup quarterback Jared Brown scored from seven yards for the final touchdown for the Mountaineers with 1:13 to play. The final WVU-42 MU-7.

The game opened with three personal fouls, one on West Virginia on the kickoff that put the ball at the 35-yard line for the Herd. Two personal fouls by Marshall , however,backed the Herd up after two rushes for one yard by Ahmad Bradshaw and a 10 yard run by Bernard Morris. A poor punt of just 23 yards off the foot of Ian O'Connor set up WVU with a short field for a seven-play, 52 yard drive in which West Virginia averaged 7.4 yards per play. Patrick White hit on his first pass of the game, an eight-yard toss to Brandon Myles, who got away from sophomore corner James Johnson.

"We had some penalties that were unacceptable," added MU's Matt Couch. "You can't win with penalties."

MU was only able to gain nine yards on its next possession, but looked to catch a break on a long roll of O'Connor's punt which was downed at the 14-yard line. But the Big East officiating crew ruled one of the Marshall "rangers" had touched the ball at the WVU 39-yard line. That set up the second of two first quarter back-to-back scoring drives by West Virginia. Slaton went in untouched from nine yards out for a second score. West Virginia now led 14-0.

Chubb Small looked for running room in the first half against WVU.

Marshall managed to drive the ball on the next two series and stopped the Mountaineers in between. O'Connor had back-to-back punts downed inside the 10-yard line, with the second downed by Dennis Thornton at the four. Morris drove the Herd down to the Mountaineer 29-yard line before a fumble backed MU up for the punt. The penalty bug bit the Herd for a third time as Byron Tinker was called for another 15 yards late hit, helping WVU to get out of the hole out to the 26-yard line. The Mountaineers needed only 11 plays to move the remaining 74 yards for a 21-0 lead on a White to Brandon Myles 18-yard touchdown on a slant, a bullet by the WVU QB, coming just one play after a 10 yard scoring run was called back to holding.

"They're just good. I've got to be honest with you, they're a little more talented than I thought they would be," said Marshall coach Snyder of the Mountaineers. "A little bigger than I thought they'd be."

The key play of the drive was a pass that appeared to hit the ground for WVU, from White to Tito Gonzales. This replay was not kind to the Herd, however, as the play stood due to the inconclusive evidence. Marshall, however, also helped the Mountaineer cause with yet another 15-yard penalty, this one on Jeremy Frazie in coverage on Myles.

The Herd finally dented the scoreboard with 5:09 to play in the second quarter. Morris hooked up with freshman tight end Cody Slate, after the WVU kickoff went out of bounds. The 26-yard gain moved the ball to the West Virginia 39-yard line. Morris hit Slate again for 14 more yards and Bradshaw got the ball to the 21-yard line. B. Morris lofted the ball to the end zone and Matt Morris jumped up into double coverage to come down with the pass, which was ripped away when he hit the ground.

"Matt [Morris] played good," said Bernard Morris. "This was an emotional game for him, being a West Virginia guy. He was more prepared for this game than anyone else was."

Matt Morris hauled in this TD pass from Bernard Morris to put Marshall on the board in the second quarter.

The officials initially ruled the pass incomplete, prompting Mark Snyder to use his first coach's challenge, new this year in the NCAA, on the play. It was evident in the replay that M. Morris came down with the ball, hit the ground and then had the ball ripped out. Marshall was finally on the board, making it 21-7.

West Virginia showed why they are a top five team, though, answering the Herd with an eight-play, 80-yard drive that once again had Slaton running 16 yards untouched to the end zone. The 28-7 lead was back with 1:49 to play. Marshall went three-and-out and punted to WVU, who drove to the Herd's 27. But Pat McAfee's 44 yard field goal attempt was blocked with a middle rush by Curtis Keyes, the Herd's senior safety to end the half with Marshall down 21 to the Mountaineers.

Curtis Keyes blocked this Pat McAfee field goal attempt to end the first half.

Some highlights for the Herd in the game: Marshall saw Matt Morris catch his first touchdown in college; Emanuel Spann returned from knee surgery to catch two passes; Cody Slate, a true freshman, looks to be the weapon Mark Snyder thought when he recruited the tight end. On the defensive side, Josh Johnson was one of the leading tacklers for the Herd in his first collegiate action, while young corners J.J. Johnson and Zearrick Mathews certainly showed signs of being future stars in the secondary. Dennis Thornton and Matt Couch picked up where they led off by being among the leading tacklers, while Ahmad Bradshaw and Chubb Small both ran well. Bernard Morris took a huge step today towards being the leader Snyder hoped he would be.

"We just didn't make plays, just didn't make plays," summed up Marshall coach Mark Snyder. "We weren't on the field much, offensively, in the first half. When your defense is out there all day, and they're not stopping anything, it's not a good way to go."

Marshall plays Hofstra Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

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