Coal Bowl: Marshall hurts self with early penalties
Marshall helped dig itself into an early hole with penalties in Saturday's 69-34 loss to No. 11 West Virginia. When the first quarter ended, Marshall had 48 yards of total offense. It had 49 yards in penalties.
Two personal foul flags on the same drive accounted for 30 of those yards. Antavious Wilson was flagged for the first one, turning second-and-6 on Marshall's 23 to second-and-18 on the Herd's 11. That forced Marshall to punt and, on the return, a flag was thrown on Alex Bazzie for hitting Tavon Austin out of bounds.
"You've got to play smart and eliminate penalties and we didn't do a
very good job of that in the first quarter," Head Coach Doc Holliday
said. "I think in the second half, it was pretty clean, but you can't
That allowed WVU to start on Marshall's 41, though that drive ended
with the Mountaineers turning the ball over on downs at the Marshall
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Redshirt freshman running back Kevin Grooms, despite not carrying the
ball until the third quarter, led Marshall in rushing in his first
collegiate appearance Saturday. Grooms, a graduate of South Broward
High in Hollywood, Fla., gained 43 yards on five carries. His first
carry was his longest, a 19-yarder near the end of the third.
Other true freshmen and redshirt freshmen who played Saturday included
defensive backs A.J. Leggett and D.J. Hunter, receiver Davonte Allen,
defensive linemen Armonze Daniel and Jarquez Samuel, quarterback Blake
Frohnapfel, running backs Steward Butler and Remi Watson, punter Tyler
Williams, long snapper Matt Cincotta and tight end Joe Woodrum.
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Marshall's starting right tackle Garrett Scott was lost for the game
early in the second quarter with a left leg injury. He was on crutches
at the end of the game, his leg wrapped at the ankle and shin. Gage
Niemeyer replaced him on the offensive line.
Holliday said he was a little relieved that the injury wasn't as bad
as originally thought.
"We thought it was broken and that we lost him there," he said. But I
don't think it's broken. I think he's going to be fine."
* * *
The Herd's 545 yards of total offense was the most since gaining 506
yards on 86 plays against Houston on Oct. 22, 2011. The last time
Marshall eclipsed the 545-yard mark was when it gained 562 yards on
New Hampshire on Sept. 15, 2007. The last time the Herd went past 545
yards against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent, they gained 554
yards against Akron on Nov. 5, 2004.
Marshall's 98-yard drive in the second quarter tied for the longest by
yardage in the Friends of Coal Bowl series. It matched Geno Smith's
98-yard drive to tie the game at 21-21 in Huntington in 2010.
* * *
Marshall sophomore quarterback Rakeem Cato set a career-high with 413
passing yards, which is also the 18th best single-game performance in
Cato completed 38 of 54 passes with two touchdowns and one interception. He set a school record for completions in a regular season games. Former Herd star Byron Leftwich completed 41 in the 2001 GMAC Bowl.
It was the first 400-yard single-game passing performance by a Herd
quarterback since Bernard Morris threw for 417 against New Hampshire on
Sept. 15, 2007.
* * *
West Virginia's 69 points is the fifth-most ever scored by a Marshall
opponent, and the most since WVU scored 81 on Oct. 10, 1923.
Marshall hadn't allowed more than 63 points since 1971 when Miami scored 66
The top four scoring games for MU opponents came between 1909 and 1923.
Marshall allowed 94 points to Denison in 1915, 92 to WVU in 1915, 81 to WVU
in 1923 and 70 to Marietta in 1909.
* * *
Marshall's defense has allowed more than 600 yards of total offense four
times since joining the Football Bowl Subdivision. Three of those games
have occurred in the past two seasons.
WVU fell short of topping the list with 655 total yards of offense. Tulsa
racked up 682 yards of total offense against Marshall last season.
* * *
The Mountaineers dressed 15 true freshmen and played 10: safety Karl Joseph, who started, receiver Jordan Thompson, defensive linemen Korey Harris, Christian Brown and Korey Harris, linebacker Garrett Hope, safety K.J. Dillon, cornerbacks Rick Rumph and Nana Kyremeh and long snapper John DePalma.
Also making debuts were redhirt junior Dozie Ezemma, redshirt freshman Ismail Showell, redshirt freshman K.J. Myers, redshirt freshman receiver Cody Clay, redshirt freshmen offensive linemen Brandon Jackson and Russell Haughton-James, long snapper Jerry Cooper and defensive lineman Kyle Rose.
The Mountaineers used 62 players. Excluded was sophomore running back Dustin Garrison, who did not dress. He's still recovering from the torn left ACL suffered before the Orange Bowl.
* * *
Myers caught a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. It was his first career reception. Clay, Joseph, outside linebacker Tyler Anderson, nose guard Shaq Rowell and linebacker Isaiah Bruce made their first career starts. Bruce led all players with 16 tackles. He started in front of Doug Rigg, who had his first career interceptions.
* * *
Quarterback Geno Smith set a pair of school records. He needed 13 passes to break Marc Bulger's record of 630 in his career. Smith finished tith 32 against Marshall. He threw four touchdown passes and now has 60, one better than Bulger's 59.
* * *
Smith and Cato helped the two teams combine for Mountaineer Field records for pass attempts (95) and completions (72) and total points (103). WVU's point total is the highest in a season-opener since 1958 and the most in a home-opener at Mountaineer Field. The previous high was 62 in 1988 and 2007. WVU played for the national title after the 1988 season and was one win shy in 2007.
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Austin led the country with 198 total yards per game last season. He managed 172 against Marshall -- 66 rushing, 53 receiving, 35 on kickoff returns and 19 on punt returns.