No. 3 WVU needs 2nd half surge to get past Marshall

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 14, 2007

HUNTINGTON, W.V. — Only the strong survive.

The survivor of the Coal Bowl was the No. 3-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers who reverted to power football to rally in the second half and beat the Marshall Thundering Herd 48-23 Saturday.

Making its first trip to Huntington in 92 years, West Virginia exploded for 42 points in the second half to erase a 13-6 Marshall halftime lead.

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“They adjusted in the second half. They went to power football instead of finesse,” said Marshall coach Mark Snyder.

“The first team that blinked was going to lose, and we blinked.”

The WVU tandem of running back Steve Slaton and quarterback Patrick White, both Heisman Trophy candidates, was too much to handle.

Slaton, who had 2 yards at halftime, finished with 24 carries for 146 yards and White ran 18 times for 125 yards while throwing for another 149.

For a half, Marshall appeared to have an excellent chance of pulling of a major upset.

The day started extremely well as Darius Marshall returned the opening kickoff 77 yards to the WVU 23 and set up a 32-yard field goal by Anthony Binswanger.

The Mountaineers took their first lead on a 46-yard pass from Patrick White to Darius Reynaud, but a 38-yard hookup from Bernard Morris to Darius Passmore with 5:27 left in the half enabled the Herd to regain the lead at 10-6.

Marshall (0-2) put together a drive to end the 9-yard line. Snyder elected let the clock wind down to two seconds and Binswanger nailed a 26-yard field goal as time expired and the Herd held a surprising 13-6 lead.

But West Virginia kicked its offense into high gear in the second half.

“There was concern, but you don’t panic,” said WVU coach Rich Rodriguez. “You have to find out what you’re doing wrong and what you can do better. We just needed to be better in some facets.”

Reynaud had a 23-yard TD reception to tie the game. Binswanger’s 34-yard field goal put Marshall back on top for the last time at 16-13 with 9:31 on the clock, but White ran 20 yards for a touchdown and Slaton had a 2-yard scoring run and it was 27-16.

The Herd continued to fight as Morris and Cody Slate teamed up on a 42-yard catch and run touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 27-23.

But it was all West Virginia in the fourth quarter as the Mountaineers scored 21 more points.

Noel Devine ran 12 yards for a touchdown with 10:28 left, Slaton added an 18-yard scoring run, and Devine got another TD scamper — this time from10 yards — with 1:40 to go and set the final score.

Morris was 19 of 29 for 256 yards and two touchdowns as the Herd’s main offensive weapon. Darius Marshall ran 11 times for 80 yards.