Unfortunately for one of the Mountaineer playmakers, something else remained consistent with the past. On West Virginia's second drive of the third quarter, fullback Owen Schmitt took a second down handoff from Patrick White at the 22. The hole in front of Owen was big enough to drive a coal truck through, and the big man was seemingly headed for paydirt. Marshall defensive back C.J. Spillman had other ideas though, and tackled Schmitt at the four yardline to set up a first and goal for the Mountaineers.
For Schmitt, it was the latest in a long line of such occurrences. Several times last season, he made similar plays on long runs only to be brought down inside the ten yardline.
"That's like the cursed spot for me I guess," said the Mountaineer cult hero/fullback with a roll of the eyes. "I get tackled there all the time. Everytime I break it just goes through my head that I'm getting caught so just hang onto the ball."
Slaton took a handoff on the next play, but was stopped after a gain of just one. On the very next play, Mountaineer coaches rewarded Schmitt for his efforts by again calling his number. This time he made well past the goalline.
"It was nice to get in the end zone. It's pretty fun to score," he said.
One thing that was a lot different was West Virginia's passing game. I'm not just talking about the yardage, although Pat White's 168 yards on just 14 attempts should open some eyes for the "He can't throw" crew. Many of White's passes went to the middle of the field on slants or skinny post routes.
"We knew that the arrows and the skinnys were going to work on the outside," said Mountaineer receiver Jeremy Bruce. "(Marshall) was pretty much in a cover one man coverage the whole time. We knew we could do that today and it worked out well."
Perhaps the biggest play of the game was Bruce's 23 yard catch from White on third down slant route in the second quarter. The Thundering Herd had just scored their only touchdown of the day, and if they could hold the Mountaineer offense to a three and out they would get a chance to put themselves in position to make it a ballgame. But that never happened, as Bruce came up with the big catch in the middle of the field.
"We repped that a lot during the preseason, so I knew exactly what I was going to do," Bruce said. "I stayed on the route and Pat White threw me a beautiful ball. All I had to do was catch it for a conversion, and that's what we needed."
Overall, the Beaver Falls, Pa. native was very pleased with the production in the passing game and the play of his quarterback.
"Pat White was fantastic today," raved the speedy sophomore. "He was very poised back there. His situation, getting a lot of press and attention, he doesn't let that go to his head. Today he showed everybody that he can pass as well as run. I thought he had a fantastic day."
Finally, Aaron Meckstroth had to be relieved to see this game come to an end. The senior strong safety from Huntington had been beaten to death with questions from several beat reporters over the past few months about playing against Marshall. While Meckstroth was always polite and honest with his responses, you have to imagine it wore on him after hearing basically the same question literally hundreds of times over a three or four month span.
In fact, after Saturday's game, poor Meckstroth was sitting all by his lonesome in the Mountaineer players lounge during postgame interviews. Despite having the same angle written about over and over though, he at least showed up to talk to scribes. Morgantown native and Marshall safety Geremy Rodamer declined to speak with reporters following the game.
While he's not the trash-talking type, Meckstroth might re-hash the day's events the next time he heads back home.
"I don't want to say too much, but I'm glad we won," he said. "If we didn't win it would be a whole different story. If I go home, they can't really talk a lot of stuff to me. That will be good."
Meckstroth was credited with two tackles on the afternoon, and saw several snaps on defense. For the bulk of his career, he's been a special teams-only player. He was no doubt happy to play with the "D" on Saturday.
"Honestly this was the first time I got a lot of snaps on defense in my career, and it felt good to get in there and do some things with them. It was good experience for me."