With senior defensiive lineman Pat Liebig not dressed due to an undisclosed illness, senior Doug Slavonic stepped into the starting lineup and delivered one of the finest games of his five-year WVU career.
Slavonic, a native of Mt. Lebanon, Pa., recorded four tackles on the afternoon, none bigger than his five-yard sack of Herd quarterback Mark Cann in the third quarter.
After Chubb Small's fumble on the previous Marshall drive had set up a Jock Sanders touchdown catch, the Herd were backed against the wall, trailing 21-3.
Slavonic thwarted any would-be threat by the Conference USA visitors with his sack of Cann. While Cann was falling to the turf, he left the football exposed. Slavonic ripped it from his grasp, giving possession to the Mountaineers.
"It looked like it was the size of a beach ball," Slavonic said of the exposed pigskin.
Offensively, West Virginia got another big game from sophomore tailback Noel Devine. During his high school days in Fort Myers, Fla., Devine's nifty cutbacks and seemingly innate ability of making would-be tacklers grasp at thin air made the pint-sized runner a YouTube legend.
On Saturday, Devine dipped back into the vault with a handful of dazzling runs. Several times, Devine took a handoff running one direction, only to be bottled up by a host of Herd defenders. Instead of plowing ahead for any yardage he could get, he simply reversed field and turned on the jets, prompting standing ovations from a majority of the 60,154 in attendance.
For the game, Devine finished with 125 yards on just 14 carries, and scored his first touchdown of the 2008 season.
As whole, the Mountaineer defense held Marshall to just three points and 158 total yards. They also stymied MU on three of its four red zone opportunities.
Primarily, the big Floridian was used as a short-yardage back, filling a much-needed role for the Mountaineers in wake of the loss at Colorado. Brown carried the ball eight times for 78 yards and completed five-of-seven passes for 44 yards and an interception. He also registered his first career catch, which lost a yard for the Mountaineers.