It was possibly the Herd's worst effort to date against West Virginia, who settled for two field goals and took a knee on what could have been a final score in the last minute. Marshall had not scored three points in a game since getting just a field goal in the 2007 opener at Miami, Fla. Marshall had lost 42-31 in 1997, 42-10 in 2006, 48-23 last season in Huntington and then 27-3 today in the last 11 years and four meetings with WVU. It was the fourth time in the Mark Snyder era where the Herd scored only three points, including twice in 2005, 26-3 at Memphis and 31-3 at UTEP.
QB Mark Cann launched a pass for receiver Darius Passmore (foreground) in the first half against West Virginia. Cann threw for 119 yards in the loss. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
The Herd's last real shot to get back in the game came when MU drove 19 plays from the Herd's 30 to the West Virginia five yard line. Darius Marshall was tackled for a two-yard loss, Cann missed on two passes to Darius Passmore then Tyler Warner missed wide left from 24-yards. Even if the kick had been good, the Herd would have lost five yards and have to try again due to an illegal formation. Marshall trailed by three touchdowns with just ten minutes to play. Jarrett Brown drove the Mountaineers to another Pat McAfee field goal, this one from 36-yards, and WVU was now in total control, 27-3.
Marshall started the second half the same way as the first, with mistakes. Emmanuel Spann took a backwards pass, had a fumble forced by J.T. Thomas and recovered by Brandon Hogan. Four plays later, Pat White passes for his second touchdown, five yards to Jock Sanders, and WVU led 21-3 with 12:06 to play in the third. White's two touchdown passes in the game moved him past Major Harris and into fifth all-time at WVU with 42 touchdown passes.
Darius Marshall racked up an impressive 203 yards on kickoff returns, including a 75-yarder in the second half against West Virginia. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
On the Herd's next series, back-to-back penalties on Matt Altobello and Brian Leggett, the only seniors on the offensive line, were followed by Mark Cann being sacked and stripped by WVU's Doug Slavonic and the Herd turned the ball over again. But in the next Mountaineer series, White was injured and Jarrett Brown came in again at quarterback, and would finish the game driving the team to two field goals on offense. In his first drive as permanent QB, he gambled for the end zone and DeQuan Bembry made him pay with an interception in the end zone.
The Herd had another three-and-out, but Brown could not get WVU to the end zone despite another highlight reel run by Noel Devine, who topped 114 yards on 11 carries in the third quarter. McAfee, who missed against Colorado in overtime when West Virginia lost 17-14 ten days ago, hit from 39-yards and WVU led at the end of three, 24-3, although the lead could have easily been five or six touchdowns as WVU was not really taking advantage of all the Marshall mistakes.
At halftime, WVU led 14-3 but both teams wasted field goal attempts in the last five minutes of the second quarter. WVU won the toss and took the initial drive of the game into the end zone, mixing the run and the pass. In fact, the first two offensive plays for White were passes to Alric Arnett for 13 yards, then to Brown, the backup quarterback who stepped in for White in the first half on a number of plays, lost minus-one yard on his first carry.
Cody Slate ran for extra yards on one of his three catches for 40 yards against the Mountaineers. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
But Devine picked up seven on the next play, and White added 15 more to move the pass into Marshall territory at the 42. 15 more yards to Arnett and four by Devine moved the Moutaineers to the Herd 23. White found Sanders for 15 to move the ball to the 11-yard line, then Sanders rand for four to get the ball in the end zone and a 7-0 lead with 10:11 to play.
But the Herd offense could not get going and Whitehead punted to Ellis Lancaster, who muffed the punt and Chubb Small recovered the ball. The Herd, however would settle for a Warner 34-yard field goal and the 7-3 game. The score remained unchanged nearly to the five minute mark of the second quarter, when Marshall made a mistake on special teams. On a 16-play, 58-yard drive, Cann moved MU to the WVU 13 yard line and Warner came on for a second field goal try. However, Sean McClellan's snap was early, and Warner recovered for a minus-15 yard loss.
WVU would again drive to a touchdown, going 72 yards in nine plays. White would hit Dorrell Jalloh for a 21-yard touchdown and the Mountaineers led 14-3, and just like last year in Huntington White threw two td passes. But WVU kicked short, and Matt Parkhurst set the Herd up with a 20-yard return at the 43 yard line, only to see Cann throw an interception on the first pass to Passmore, and WVU looked like with a minute to play they might add to the lead.
But driving to the Herd 15, WVU burned its final timeout on third-and-one. White picked up a first with a four yard run to the 11, then eight more to the MU three. But he threw incomplete on a pass broken up by the Herd's D.J. Wingate on second down, then scrambled out the final nine seconds and, pressured by Ian Hoskins, threw again to the end zone and the pass was again batted away by Wingate to leave the score at 14-3. As poorly as Marshall had played, they were only down 11 points at the half despite being out gained by 243 to 83 in the first half.