Herd receiver Darius Passmore scored the first touchdown of his career with a sensational catch in the back corner of the end zone, taking the ball away from a West Virginia defender as Passmore fell out of bounds but kept his feet in. Passmore ended the day with 97 yards of all-purpose yardage, catching five passes for 76 yards and running for 21 more yards.
Except for his fumble, Darius Marshall continued to impress Herd fans for his play as a true freshman. Marshall opened the game with a 77 yard kickoff return that led to a 3-0 lead for Marshall. On the day, Marshall piled up 188 yards of all-purpose yardage, rushing for 80 yards on 11 carries (a 7.3 yards per carry average) and returned three kickoffs for 108 yards.
Bernard Morris hit 19-of-29 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns, the 38-yard score to Passmore to give the Herd a 10-6 lead and a 42-yard effort to tight end Cody Slate that cut the WVU lead to 27-23 at the end of the third quarter. It is the best day passing for Morris since he hit on 34-for-60 for a career-high 314 yards against SMU in 2005. Morris now has 16 career touchdown passes and did not have an interception today, the first game without a pick since Memphis last season. He also ran for 20 yards, but was officially at zero yards rushing due to 20 yards lost on four sacks by the West Virginia defense.
The Marshall defense held West Virginia's Heisman Trophy candidate Steve Slaton to five yards rushing in the first half, and limited WVU to just 181 yards of offense. Slaton would score twice in the second half and pile up a game-best 146 yards on the ground.
The 40,383 in attendance is a new Marshall University record for a home game at the Joan C. Edwards Stadium, which seats only 38,019. It surpasses the old record of 36,914 for the Kansas State game in 2005 and both of Marshall's top two best attended games in the history of the school have kicked off before Noon. K-State was a 10:30 a.m. kick, while MU-WVU kicked just after 11 a.m. for ESPN2.
With the loss, Marshall falls to 23-25 all-time on nationally-televised games. Marshall has now lost seven of the last eight appearances on national television and is 4-10 in the spotlight under third-year head coach Mark Snyder. Marshall is 12-10 all-time on "The Duece," or ESPN2, and has lost six in a row on the network back to the loss at Akron in November of 2004. Only the New Hampshire game next week will not be televised, as Marshall has local TV with WOWK TV-13 for the games at Cincinnati, at Tulsa, at Houston and UAB in the final home game of the year. The Herd will be on ESPN2 at Memphis, on ESPN for a Sunday night game with Southern Miss, on CSTV for the Homecoming game with Rice, on Comcast Sports South, or CSS, for the contest at Central Florida and on tape delay on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network broadcast of the East Carolina game.
With losing the first two games against WVU in the seven-game series brokered by West Virginia alum and State Governor, Joe Manchin, Marshall will have to travel for a scheduled game in Morgantown in 2008 and return there in 2009, as the winner of the first two-of-three got the middle game in the contract. West Virginia will host five games - last season, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012 - while Marshall now has hosted this year and again in 2010. Next season's schedule has been announced for the Herd, including opeing the season at home against I-AA Illinois State, then traveling to Wisconsin and WVU, followed by Cincinnati at home. Marshall will also see Southern Illinois come in in 2009 for the opener, travel to Virginia Tech, host Bowling Green, then travel to WVU. Marshall will get home games with long-time rival Ohio U. in 2010 (the first of six scheduled games through 2015, home-and-home) and then get Virginia Tech and Miami at "The Joan" in 2011.
With 146 yards today, West Virginia junior tailback Steve Slaton topped 3,000 yards in his career. H is only the third back in WVU's history to top 3K, joining Avon Cobourne (5,146) and Amos Zereoue (4,086). Slaton also scored the 37th and 38th touchdowns of his career. He is five shy of breaking the WVU career mark of 42 scores on the ground, set by Ira Errett Rodgers in 1919 and Cobourne in 2002. It is the 12th time in his career he has had two touchdowns in a game.
The 0-2 start for the Herd is the first since Marshall went 0-3 to open Bob Pruett's final season in 2004. Prior to that was 1983, when Sonny Randle and his final Herd team started 0-2 and finished 4-7. Other 0-2 starts came in 1975 (2-9), 1969 (3-7), 1967 (0-10), 1964 (7-3), 1961 (2-7-1), 1950 (2-8), 1923 (1-7), 1920 (0-8, and were out-scored 247-to-0 on the year), 1915 (1-7, the last time WVU played in Huntington until Saturday), 1914 (5-4), 1908 (0-6) and 1897 (0-3).