MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia University football fans were hoping for an electrifying performance and figured on a longer, pass-filled Friends of Coal Bowl than has been the norm at Mountaineer Field.
Well, they got all of that Sunday, and someone went long more than once to score.
But it wasn't WVU's offense.
West Virginia has a new - and rookie - football coach in Dana Holgorsen. Marshall has a new - and rookie - quarterback in Rakeem Cato.
Much is expected of both in coming years.
As for the sixth Coal Bowl, lightning did not strike on the scoreboard.
The long distance plays belonged to Andre Booker of the Herd and Tavon Austin of the Mountaineers, but it was what took place between those first- and third-quarter returns that set the tone in WVU's weather-shortened 34-13 victory - its 11th without defeat over the Herd in series history.
The win continued West Virginia's run of success on its home turf, with a 16th consecutive victory. The Mountaineers have lost only three of their last 20 home openers, all to Big Ten teams - Purdue, 1995; Ohio State, '98; Wisconsin, 2003).
Booker's 87-yard punt return less than five minutes into the game was the third longest in Herd history and second longest by a visitor in Mountaineer Field history. It staked the visitors to a 7-0 lead.
With 4:59 left in the third quarter - after Marshall had closed to within 20-13 - Austin scored on the sixth 100-yard kickoff return in WVU history, some lightning of sorts just before flashes in the southwest sky brought a game-stopping siren at 5:47 p.m.
Then, the long wait began, technically two delays without a down played, lasting 3 hours, 3 minutes. Another delay lasted 1:18. There was 14:36 remaining on the game clock when it mercifully ended.
For a while, it looked like Oklahoma might have moved to the Pac-12 before this one finished.
The game will be remembered for the long delay, but at its essence, it was decided by West Virginia's ability to sustain drives in difficult situations that were converted by Smith.
Between those on-field and in-the-sky bolts, as WVU constructed a lead, it was more a case of outlasting Marshall play after play rather than an airy assault that kept the Herd on its heels.
The difference? Cato was playing his first collegiate game. WVU's Geno Smith, who riddled the Herd late in an overtime win in Huntington a year ago, already is established ... and then some.
Smith's patience and escapability were Herd ills for which Coach Doc Holliday had no prescription.
After Booker's punt return through the wedge and down the right sideline - Marshall's longest since Ricardo Clark had an 89-yarder in 1990 - WVU established its superiority without the passing fancy that most Mountaineer partisans in the crowd of 60,758 probably expected.
WVU's defense stymied the Herd run game - not the first time that's happened in this six-game Coal Bowl series - and the new Mountaineer offense, while it was anything but Dana's Delight, did produce something the new coach has harped upon throughout the preseason.
That's first downs ... and it happened - frustratingly for the Herd - mostly thanks to third down success by stretching the Herd wider than deep in the passing game.