One-Sided Decision

Growing up in West Virginia, you're forced early on in life to pick a side – West Virginia or Marshall. That rivalry intensifies if you're an instate football player, especially when you're being recruited by both schools. For Martinsburg native and senior defensive back Nate Sowers, the choice was easy.

"[Marshall] recruited me pretty good," said Sowers. "They made kind of a late push. I never really thought about going there. Honestly I was always a WVU guy."

Sowers admits that when he faces off against Marshall for the final time Saturday, it will be bittersweet to be playing the in-state foe for the final time.

"I treat every game the same," said Sowers. "It is an in-state rivalry. My brothers went there. I'm familiar with the university so it means a little something more to me because I'm an in-state guy and I know what this is about. I know where the tradition comes from."

Sowers is a little more familiar with Marshall than some of the other Mountaineer players because his two brothers ran track for "the school down south". Although he has visited Huntington and maybe even cheered for them (but only in track), he will have his eye on the prize come Saturday. Being part of this year's senior class, Sowers is 3-0 against Marshall and is hoping to keep the streak going.

"We definitely don't want to be those guys [that break the winning streak]," said Sowers. "Hopefully we will go out on top."

The Mountaineers recognize that this year they are facing arguably the best Marshall squad that they have seen in Sowers' four years at WVU. The Thundering Herd will enter Morgantown on Saturday with a respectable 4-2 record and likely playing with the most confidence they have had in years.

"Those guys are playing hard," said Sowers. "The more wins they get the more confidence they're going to have. They're a dangerous team right now. There's no doubt about that. We're going to have our hands full. It's going to be a big game, a rivalry game. The team that settles down and plays four quarters is going to win the game."

Sowers and the rest of the Mountaineer defense is focusing on Marshall's two main offensive threats – redshirt junior running back Darius Marshall and senior tight end Cody Slate.

"One guy isn't going to tackle Darius Marshall so we have to get penetration and get a bunch of guys on the ball," said Sowers. "He gets north and south. He's a hard runner. He obviously has moves. In an open field, he's going to be tough to take down. Hopefully we can get a bunch of guys to the ball and take him down."

As for the other threat, Slate, Sowers recognizes that the Marshall offense will be able to use him in a lot of situations so the defense will have to be ready for anything.

"He's very versatile," said Sowers. "He's a good blocker but you can also put him at slot and he can run great routes. He has receiver speed. He's pretty tough. They will get some matchups on us with him."


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