Bruce, a redshirt freshman who started, had a game-high 16 tackles and returned a fumble 43 yards for a touchdown. Nehlen didn't return a punt or kick or make a tackle on a coverage team, but did play on several special teams units.
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WHEN AC/DC's "Hell's Bells" tolled on third down at Milan Puskar Stadium this season, Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato didn't get rattled.
It was a different feeling for the sophomore as opposed to 2011, when he made his collegiate debut in front of that raucous crowd. The Thundering Herd fell 69-34, but Cato threw for 413 yards on 38-of-54 passing and two touchdowns, the best day for a Marshall quarterback since Bernard Morris threw for 417 yards versus New Hampshire on Sept. 15, 2007.
The bulk of Cato's numbers came later in the game. He threw for both scores and 234 yards in the second half.
"I come from a school (Miami Central) that, when we're down, we're ready to crank up and we never count ourselves out," he said. "I've kept that mentality all my life. Anytime we're down, I want to keep pushing hard, never quit and never give up."
The Herd's 545 yards of total offense were the most gained since racking up 506 yards in an Oct. 22, 2011 loss to Houston.
Marshall coaches likely will be pleased with how Cato distributed the ball. His 38 completions went to 13 different receivers. Tight end Eric Frohnapfel led Herd receivers with six catches.
"Everybody knows we have (Aaron) Dobson and (Antavious Wilson)," Cato said. "At the same time, you want to make sure all your receivers are playing, are on the right track and know what they're doing."
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TRUE FRESHMAN punter Tyler Williams was another silver lining among Saturday's clouds. He averaged 51.2 yards on four punts, with a long of 59 yards. His first punt, on Marshall's opening drive, skipped out of bounds at the West Virginia 6-yard line.
He said he felt more comfortable than he planned in the face of a hostile WVU crowd.
"It really wasn't that bad," Williams said. "I thought it would be a lot louder. I think I envisioned it being a lot louder. I was really confident in my guys, which helped. If I had a hectic snap, I might have been a little more on edge. But I had the best (punt) team, which really helped me get the job done."
Williams said the pinpoint snaps from long snapper Matt Cincotta were a great help. He knows he can improve for the future, a notion Head Coach Doc Holliday agreed with.
"I thought he punted well," Holliday said. "The problem was he outkicked the coverage a couple of times, when he kicked it to Tavon and when you give him space, you have problems."
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FRESHMAN RUNNING back Kevin Grooms had to wait until the third quarter for his first stab at playing time, but didn't waste much time making an impact.
Grooms took his hand-off for 19 yards, Marshall's longest run of the day, and led the Herd with 43 yards rushing on just five carries. The waiting wasn't fun, but Grooms was confident he could help the offense.
"I knew what I was going to get out there and do," Grooms said. "I felt I just needed the opportunity, that's all. When I got it, I made the most of it."
Grooms actually got into the end zone on a two-yard run in the third quarter, but it was called back on a holding penalty.
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.