www.charlestondailymail.com Sports http://www.charlestondailymail.com Daily Mail feed en-us Copyright 2014, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Herd RB Johnson ready to get back on the field http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141110/DM03/141119893 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141110/DM03/141119893 Mon, 10 Nov 2014 22:32:00 -0500 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Devon Johnson isn't much for watching college football. Instead of being relegated to spectator, as he was in Marshall's 63-17 win over Southern Mississippi this past Saturday, he'd much rather be a participant, as he had been in the eight previous games.

That's why he said his hiatus would be limited to one game and he's set for this coming Saturday's game at Joan C. Edwards Stadium between the No. 21 Thundering Herd and defending Conference USA champion Rice (2:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net).

"I'm ready to go," he said Monday afternoon.

He said he could have played against the Golden Eagles, that wearing full pads and going through pregame warmups was no ruse. Marshall coach Doc Holliday said as much after that game, but decided before kickoff it would be wise to rest Johnson's left knee a little longer.

The injury came on what Johnson called a "freak accident" on the 16-yard gain versus Florida Atlantic that put him over 1,000 rushing yards for the season. When he landed, he said his leg banged off the turf and he felt a little pain. He learned later that a sac had burst in his leg and it started to swell.

"I felt it a little bit," Johnson said. "It wasn't too bad. I went to the side and everything felt fine and they did all the movements they had to do, the doctors did and the trainers did. They didn't see anything wrong with it. I felt a little burn."

And Johnson burned the Owls for a school record 272 yards and four touchdowns. He did so with a sleeve on both knees. After two weeks out of in-game action, Johnson said the knee feels fine with no lingering effects.

The goal for Marshall (9-0, 5-0 C-USA) now is to make sure no unexpected issues pop up with Johnson's legs. He's a sturdy 6-foot-1 and 243 pounds, but he's seeing more playing time - and more contact with each play - than ever before. In seasons past, he was a reserve linebacker, fullback and tight end. Now he's the main cog of a running game that sits sixth in the Football Bowl Subdivision at 295.1 yards per game. Johnson himself is third in the FBS at 150.4 yards per game.

He has the fewest carries of anyone in the top 20 in that category at 137, but that's still about 17 carries a game into the heart of the opposing defense that he hadn't seen before.

Johnson said Marshall coaches have done a great job balancing his need to mix it up in practice and the need to conserve those hits for Saturdays. Holliday said it's a strategy that evolves as the season goes along.

"I think a lot of that is based on what's happened during the week before," Holliday said last week. "Devon Johnson hasn't taken a snap in inside (drills) in four weeks. For a reason, because he's getting plenty of it during the games.

"We're going to be smart with what we do, and get the number of touches he needs in practice to get prepared to go be able to play," he added. "The good thing is we've got several backs there."

Those other running backs picked up the slack and then some for the sidelined Johnson. Marshall rushed for 335 yards and seven touchdowns against the Golden Eagles. Remi Watson ran for three touchdowns and scored four overall. Steward Butler gained 118 yards and two touchdowns on just five carries. Tony Pittman scored his first career touchdown in the fourth quarter, a 26-yarder.

Johnson always has been confident in the fellow members of the running back roster. They reinforced his trust last Saturday.

"It's scary," Johnson said. "With Stew and Remi, it just showed how the team practiced for the last two weeks, how they attacked practice. And I knew, with the way that Stew and Remi attacked practice, that they were going to do great. They deserved what they got with the hard work they put in for the past two weeks."

He plans on joining them this week, and has been eagerly awaiting the chance to play Rice (6-3, 4-1 C-USA), which drubbed the Herd in last season's conference title game, 41-24.

"I'm so ready. I'm going to attack this week like it's my last week. It sucked sitting there, being on the sideline, watching your team go to war without you. I didn't like that feeling, so I don't want to have that feeling again."

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

]]>
WVU SOCCER: Women draw Georgetown in NCAA first round http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141110/DM03/141119894 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141110/DM03/141119894 Mon, 10 Nov 2014 22:23:07 -0500

FROM STAFF REPORTS

MORGANTOWN,W.Va. - The No. 8-ranked and 2014 Big 12 Conference regular-season and tournament champion West Virginia University women's soccer team earned a No. 3 seed in the 2014 NCAA Tournament and will play host to Georgetown in the opening round at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.

The Mountaineers advance to the NCAA Tournament for the 15th straight season, the eighth-longest active streak in the nation. WVU advanced as far as the Elite

Eight in 2007.

Monday's seeding is the team's first since earning a No. 3 seed for the 2010 NCAA Tournament. The Mountaineers advanced to the NCAA Round of 16 that year and fell, 4-0, at Boston College on Nov. 19, 2010.

The Mountaineers are serving as one of 32 host schools for the first round of the national tournament - the third season under the format. The winner will advance to play the winner of Virginia Tech vs. Dayton. The sites will be on-campus at the highest remaining seeds in the second- and third-round portion of the bracket on Nov. 22-24.

Saturday's meeting is the second of the season between the Mountaineers (16-2-3, 7-0-1 Big 12) and the Hoyas (11-4-5, 6-1-2 Big East). The squads played to a 1-1 double-overtime draw in Morgantown on Sept. 12.

The draw was the first tie between the former Big East Conference foes. WVU owns a 14-3-1 series advantage.

]]>
WVU FOOTBALL: K-State hit hard by TCU loss too http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141110/DM03/141119897 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141110/DM03/141119897 Mon, 10 Nov 2014 22:06:41 -0500 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Within a conference where the schools compete for a lot of the same high school and junior college stars, most of the offenses are similar and many of the staffs have a coach who spent time on a sideline somewhere else in the league, these two seem as dissimilar as is possible inside the Big 12.

Bill Snyder is the 75-year-old coach at Kansas State. Dana Holgorsen is the 43-year-old coach at West Virginia. The 2005 season was Holgorsen's first as an offensive coordinator at Texas Tech and the last for Snyder before he'd retire, though that only lasted three years.

Snyder's college coaching career started in Texas and took off in Iowa. He was with Hayden Fry at North Texas and then spent 10 seasons as Fry's offensive coordinator at Iowa. Holgorsen was born in Iowa and played at two colleges in the state, but his career exploded with Mike Leach at Texas Tech and Kevin Sumlin at Houston.

Both were offensive coaches earlier in their careers, but Holgorsen passed out of frenetic spreads and Snyder liked powerful formations and traditional ideas.

When Snyder gets attention for his wardrobe, it's because he's wearing dated windbreakers from previous bowl game, but they do represent his school. Holgorsen gets heat from his followers because he wears black on the sideline.

Holgorsen likes Red Bull. Snyder digs Taco Bell. Snyder built a program so impressively that the stadium he plays in named after him. Holgorsen built a house in Cheat, but was the first to incorporate cross-laminated timber.

On and on it goes, but the two have something very important in common before they meet Oct. 20 at Mountaineer Field. Their seasons were scrambled by losses to TCU and they are spending this down time trying to pick up their teams at the end of the season.

"I think they're responding well, and that's the key element to how they handle what happened Saturday," said Snyder, whose Wildcats suffered their first conference loss at TCU three days ago. "I've seen a few of them. I've seen some anger, and I can appreciate that a great deal. That comes following the disappointment, quite obviously.

"I don't think anybody is taking this lightly. I think they are committed to the responsibility and the determination and the toughness it takes to overcome this and move into the next phase of preparation, but we'll see."

Snyder's team didn't meet until Monday evening to discuss and dismiss the 41-20 loss to the Horned Frogs. Kansas State (7-2, 5-1 Big 12) ended a five-game winning streak and moved out of sole possession of first place into a three-way tie. The league's leader in scoring defense (18.6 points per game) and total defense (321 yards per game) allowed season-high totals in points and yards (553). The offense's point total was the second-lowest of the season, trailing only the 14 points scored in the other loss to Auburn.

"I really thought they did a nice job with their offensive line picking up some things we were doing, and defensively, they may get hurt by something on one snap, but the next snap you try to do it, they've adjusted," Snyder said. "They make appropriate in-game adjustments and I thought that had an impact on the game. I thought they did quite well."

The Mountaineers (6-4, 4-3) are familiar with all of that after losing a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter and losing on a last-second field goal. They packed that pain and brought it to Saturday's game at Texas and were saddled throughout a 33-16 loss. WVU had been 3-0 on the road and 2-0 after losses this season.

"It's all motivation," Holgorsen said. "I thought we had a good week of practice and I thought guys would be excited to play in a venue like the University of Texas against obviously a very good opponent in the University of Texas. We didn't have the pop we've had in most other games."

WVU's 24-3 halftime deficit was the largest deficit of the entire season, but it was 26-16 late in the fourth quarter. The defense held Texas to 85 yards of offense after halftime and the running game found some space to give the Mountaineers a chance.

"We challenged them at halftime and we had some key leaders stand up and kind of challenge the guys as well," Holgorsen said. "I thought we responded to it. I don't know of a magic formula to be able to see in the pregame whether guys are up and are and ready to go. They looked the same to me they have the previous nine games."

Both teams have the luxury of taking a few days to clear their minds and recover physically, if not emotionally. The Mountaineers, who played three road games and three home games the past six weekends, have the added matter of preventing another late-season dive, too, with the Wildcats coming before a road game at Iowa State.

WVU was 5-0 in 2012, lost five straight and finished 7-6. Last season's team was 4-8 and lost the final three games, but was 3-2 after winning at home against ranked Oklahoma State.

"I think kids are a little bit more resilient than you think they are," Holgorsen said. "I think the coaches take losses harder than players do at times. We just try to keep the same schedule each and every week and try not to focus too much on winning games or focus too much on losing games. It's all about the next day. You have to get it over with. We met (Sunday), got rid of the game, made corrections and made adjustments. You have a schedule and you move forward."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

]]>
MEC BASKETBALL: UC men will lean on Kesic, DiTrapano http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141110/DM03/141119898 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141110/DM03/141119898 Mon, 10 Nov 2014 22:05:42 -0500 By Rich Stevens BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. - University of Charleston men's basketball coach Dwaine Osborne made an immediate impact in his first season with the Golden Eagles.

What he and his team do for an encore is anybody's guess.

The Golden Eagles, coming off a Mountain East Conference Tournament title and NCAA Division II Atlantic Region tournament bid, open the 2014-15 season at 8 p.m. on Friday against Slippery Rock in the Waco Center Classic at Glenville.

"I feel pretty good for where we are," said Osborne, who has a 118-133 career record in nine seasons as a head coach. "Chemistry isn't fully developed until you get through some battles together. You have 15 guys, everybody wants to play, nobody really knows who is going to play and who's not. Until we get through into November and December, we'll really see where we are."

Charleston finished the 2013-14 season with a 15-7 record in the MEC, but capped a run through the league tournament with a 63-60 win over West Liberty, the defending tourney titlist and champion of the final three tournaments in the now-defunct West Virginia Conference.

"I purposefully didn't talk about it with our team," Osborne said of last year's success. "Eleven out of the 15 players are new. This is a whole different team. There will be people who say we have to defend our championship or whatever and we're not. We don't lose those things. Those are ours forever."

Gone from that UC team are 10 players who combined for 1,407 of UC's 2,268 points (62 percent), including first-team All-Conference selection Xavier Humphrey (16.6 points per game, 5.2 rebounds).

There will mostly be a new cast of characters for Osborne, who shared MEC coach of the year honors last season with West Liberty's Jim Crutchfield.

However, he does return some key elements to last season's run, led by Serbian Aleksander Kesic.

A second-team all-MEC performer, the 6-8 junior forward was second on the team in scoring (14.6 points per game) and led the team in rebounding (6.5) and free throw percentage (.796) for the starters. Kesic has 658 career points and, if he stays healthy, should reach the 1,000-point mark for his career in the second half of the season.

"I think this could be a huge year for (Aleksander)," Osborne said. "He's really smart, he's really skilled, can score inside and out. I think the biggest thing for Aleks right now is his conditioning and his body right now. After the season last year, that's something he committed to. He might be a little bit lighter, but so lean and so strong."

Kesic struggled with a back injury early last season which limited his conditioning, "and he was able to go through all of it this year," Osborne said.

Also returning is point guard Tino DiTrapano, a junior and former George Washington High School standout who was fourth on the team in scoring (11.0) and was second on the team steals (33) and assists (77). Sophomore guard Denio Chirindja, who played in 30 games and started three, is back as well as sophomore and Wellsburg native Eric Johnson, who played in four games.

"(Tino) spent a lot of time in the gym this summer," Osborne said. "I'd get there in the mornings and a lot of the time he'd be finishing a workout at 7:30 or 8. Then, he'd be back in the afternoon."

Wrapped around the returnees will be Division I transfers Deandre Leatherwood (Morehead State), Chris Evans (Sacred Heart), Octavius Green (Lamar) and Vincent Dillard (University of Texas at Arlington) as well as a trio of junior college transfers in sophomore Cameron Dozier (Tallahassee CC), junior Jevonte Hughes (Kalamazoo CC) and junior Charles Cooley (Lackawanna CC).

At Morehead State, the 6-foot-10 Leatherwood - who has one year of eligibility remaining - averaged 1.8 points and 1.2 rebounds. Leatherwood didn't play basketball in high school until his senior season.

Recruited by UC assistant and former Ravenswood basketball star Brett Rector, Evans - a 6-3 senior guard - also has one year of eligibility remaining after playing in 79 games in three seasons at Northeast Conference member Sacred Heart. He started in 29 games last season and averaged 8.6 points after redshirting in 2012-13.

Green, a 6-6 forward also with one year of remaining eligibility, averaged 3.9 points and 2.8 rebounds for Lamar in 2013-14.

Dillard is a senior who started in eight of the 28 games he played for UT Arlington last season, averaging four points and 2.1 rebounds.

As a freshman at Tallahassee CC, the 6-1 Dozier averaged 6.4 points, 3.7 assists and 2.9 rebounds.

Hughes, a 6-5 junior forward, averaged 14.2 points and 7.7 rebounds for Kalamazoo Valley CC. Cooley, a 5-10 junior guard, averaged 17 points, 4.1 assists and 3.9 rebounds for Lackawanna in 2013-14.

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at richstevens@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4837. Follow him on Twitter @richdailymail.

]]>
MEC BASKETBALL: Hobbs will help W.Va. State women http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141110/DM03/141119899 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141110/DM03/141119899 Mon, 10 Nov 2014 22:03:01 -0500 By Chris Wade Randy Moss says his ESPN documentary won't 'sugarcoat' http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141110/DM01/141119910 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141110/DM01/141119910 Tue, 11 Nov 2014 00:00:00 -0500 By Ashley B. Craig A documentary set to air tonight on ESPN about former pro football player and Rand native Randy Moss almost didn't happen.

The filmmaker, Marquis Daisy, a 32-year-old Brooklyn, N.Y. native, had to track Moss for weeks for "Rand University."

"I literally had to almost stalk him to find out where he was going to be," Daisy said. "Really this film almost didn't happen with schedules meshing and Randy being Randy."

Daisy's chance came in June when Donnie "Blue" Jones, Randy's longtime friend and business manager, invited the filmmaker to a football training camp for high school athletes at the Huntington YMCA. He finally got time with "The Freak," as Moss was nicknamed in college for his seemingly inhuman ability on the field.

Daisy had been in contact with Moss' camp but the schedules never meshed and a sit down interview was going to be hard to come by. Moss, 37, doesn't like talking to the media. For the most part, he doesn't.

"It was a little crazy," Moss said Monday evening. "I didn't want to do it at first because I knew the real story would not be told."

The conditions weren't the best, Daisy said. The camp was co-hosted by Moss and Marshall Football Head Coach Doc Holliday. It was supposed to be at Marshall University, where Moss played for two years before being drafted in the first round by the Minnesota Vikings, but was moved indoors to the YMCA when a thunderstorm rolled in.

The sounds of children screaming in the next room filtered into the room while thunder cracked through the air. Moss sat in a chair and spoke for an hour and 10 minutes about life and about Rand, the tiny town in eastern Kanawha County where he grew up.

Daisy was "freaking out," worried that the background noise would be heard in the video and fearing that this would be the only chance he had to speak with the former wide receiver. It had been a struggle to get to that point.

"To Randy's credit he was very open, intimate and engaging," Daisy said. "It's kind of like getting into an Ivy League school. It's a struggle getting in, but once you're in, you're in.

"A lot of that has to do with his past. He is a person who does not censor his words. He'll give it to you the way that he feels. He's very honest."

The sit down

Daisy started as a staff producer at ESPN Films in March. Before that he worked at HBO Sports for six years on projects like the boxing series "24/7," "Costas Now" and "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel." He'd worked on his own projects, including a piece about gun violence in Chicago called "Smile: The documentary," between gigs at HBO and ESPN.

Born in Brooklyn and now living in Harlem, Daisy is a storyteller who thrives on telling the pain and struggles of others. He likes to get into the subject's background and find out why things happened the way they did, Daisy said.

At ESPN he'd worked on the "30 for 30" piece about Bernard King, a top player for the NBA's Golden State Warriors, and his close friend and teammate Ernie Grunfeld.

The "30 for 30" umbrella, which tells sports-centered stories from the filmmakers' points of view, expanded this year from professional athletes to college sports and athletes. Moss' name came up in discussion for a film and Daisy gravitated toward the idea.

"He's been enigmatic over the years," Daisy said. "I reached out to his camp. They were interested."

Jones said it was Moss' call whether they went along with it.

"With Randy, everything is hesitant," said Jones, 45. "He feels that his true life story isn't going to be told until he tells it.

"The dude is an icon but he just wanted to play football."

Moss, who spends his weekdays in North Carolina as an assistant coach at Victory Christian Academy where his son plays high school football, and his weekends in California where he is a football analyst for Fox Sports One, has seen the finished product.

He had his own concerns because it put Rand back in the spotlight, but he said the film tells the viewers a little more about the road he had to travel.

Growing up, Daisy frequently picked Marshall in college football video games particularly for Moss' skills in the game.

"It was kind of surreal," Daisy said. "I've been fortunate enough to hang around or interview people I grew up idolizing but he's a little different.

"He's enigmatic. I didn't know how to approach him."

He said once he got to Moss and was able to sit down and talk with him he found he was a "regular" guy.

That sit down in Huntington got Daisy an invite to Moss' horseshoe tournament at Coonskin Park, and later to a cookout in Rand at the home of Sam Singleton Sr., the father of one of Moss' friends and a mentor growing up.

Bulldogs to Herd

The film is about where and how Moss grew up as much as it is about the man himself, Daisy said. The community of Rand is as much a character as Moss, or his former teammates Bobbie Howard, Sam Singleton Jr. or Chad Pennington.

"It was very important to get their take on who Randy was back then," Daisy said. "I was the most enamored with Bobbie Howard and Sam Singleton (Jr.).

"They were very young and spent so much time with him. If anyone knew him it was those guys, and Sam Singleton Sr."

Daisy said to get to the truth you have to go back to the root. He said speaking to people like the Singletons and Howard, a former Chicago Bear who now is a high school football coach in a Chicago suburb, set the story for the person Moss was before he entered the spotlight.

"You're going to learn more about Randy Moss through the people he grew up with than you've ever known before," Daisy said. "There's a sort of tone that's going to come out through the film.

"You're going to understand why he became the person he became ... through the people around him, you're going to understand what was in his mind."

Daisy said his goal was to answer the question of how Moss got out of the neighborhood when others didn't and to show what separated Moss from other athletes.

The film features archive footage of Moss at DuPont High School and at Marshall University displaying the athleticism that led to his career in the NFL.

Jones said the community was buzzing about the documentary.

"I think people are going to be really blown away by it," Jones said. "It's really deep. I think people are expecting highlights and this is more about life and the climb he had to take to get where he is now."

The story goes from Moss' time on the Belle Bulldogs midget league football team through his time at Marshall.

Daisy also spoke to former Florida State University coach Bobby Bowden and former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz. Moss had opportunities to attend both schools to play football but trouble - a high school fight and later drugs - caused those opportunities to be taken away.

The film doesn't shy away from Moss' mistakes, Daisy said. Moss said it brought up the past for himself, good and bad. It's going to open up old wounds and he didn't like that for his mother and the mother of the other boy involved in the fight at DuPont High School.

"They have to relive that," Moss said of the women. "These women are grandmothers and they have to relive that."

No sugarcoating

Moss said he hopes that others can learn from his mistakes. He doesn't plan on watching the show tonight unless his children want to. He said they know bits and pieces about his life as a young man.

He wants his children and other children to learn from the mistakes he made. He doesn't "sugarcoat" things in the film, he said.

The belief he held that the sky is the limit and his determination carried him out, he said. That, and the grace of God.

"I think the things for the younger generation to understand, the streets of Rand, West Virginia was here before me and it's gonna be here after me," Moss said. "That's why I want the kids and the parents to learn from this documentary.

"Learn more about me and the mistakes I made so they don't make the same ones."

Moss said he would have liked to have had more input on the film, specifically who was interviewed, but some of the interviews moved him to tears.

"Just by looking at the piece it made me feel a different way," Moss said. "I teared up. I watched it three times. I teared up each time.

"Knowing it was me they were talking about 20 years later."

The tears were of joy and sorrow. He wanted to go to Notre Dame and Florida State.

He said many people didn't know he had to take classes at the former West Virginia State College (now university) before becoming eligible to walk on at Marshall University. His mother paid part of his tuition before he was extended a scholarship.

Daisy said he thinks people will have a greater understanding of who Moss is after viewing the film.

"This is a story about pain and struggle and redemption," Daisy said. "If you want Randy Moss the athlete you can go to YouTube for that. If you want Randy Moss the person, that's what this is."

The documentary will air at 8 p.m. tonight on ESPN.

Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.craig@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4850.

]]>
COLLEGE SOCCER: WVU women claim another Big 12 crown http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141109/ARTICLE/141109228 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141109/ARTICLE/141109228 Sun, 9 Nov 2014 21:35:31 -0500

FROM STAFF REPORTS

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A goal in the 13th minute off the foot of senior Kate Schwindel clinched the second straight Big 12 women's soccer championship title for the No. 8 West Virginia, as the squad defeated sixth-seeded Oklahoma 1-0 this evening at Swope Soccer Village.

The title is the Mountaineers' fifth conference championship title and fourth in five years. WVU (16-2-3, 7-0-1), the three-time reigning Big 12 regular-season champions, has now won five Big 12 titles in three seasons. The Mountaineers' senior class - Schwindel, Jess Crowder, Ali Connelly and Katie Osterman - will leave Morgantown with seven conference titles.

WVU has won 13 conference titles since 2002.

"It is an unbelievable feeling to be a part of this team and to experience this win with everyone," said three-time reigning Big 12 Coach of the Year Nikki Izzo-Brown. "I'm especially happy that Kate got that game-winner. I'm so proud of this team."

With the win, WVU earns the Big 12 Conference's automatic bid to the 2014 NCAA tournament, ensuring the Mountaineers' 15th straight appearance.

The complete NCAA tournament bracket will be released Monday during the Selection Show, streamed live on NCAA.com beginning at 4:30 p.m.

]]>
COLLEGE SOCCER: UC men capture Mountain East tournament title http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141109/ARTICLE/141109229 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141109/ARTICLE/141109229 Sun, 9 Nov 2014 21:35:17 -0500

FROM STAFF REPORTS

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Jake Young's header off a corner kick sent in by Will Roberts in the 69th minute gave the University of Charleston a 1-0 win over Wheeling Jesuit in the Mountain East Conference Tournament final Sunday afternoon at Schoenbaum Field.

The win secured the MEC regular season and tournament championships for the Golden Eagles (18-0-1).

Wheeling Jesuit finishes its season with a record of 9-7-2.

Wheeling Jesuit controlled possession early, but could not manage quality scoring opportunities. Meanwhile UC has several dangerous moments including a shot cleared off the line by a Cardinals defender.

UC found its rhythm in the second half and controlled more of the action, and finally broke through on one of its six corner kicks in the second half as Roberts found Young making a run to the far post for the clean header. The Golden Eagles only allowed one WJU shot in the final 45 minutes to secure the victory.

Roberts, Young, Conor Branson and Augusto Maciel each earned spots on the MEC All-Tournament team. Wheeling Jesuit's Aitor DeHeredia, Cody Thompson and Daniel Undreiner were also chosen to the team, along with Notre Dame's Adam Mitchell and Declan McGivern and West Virginia Wesleyan's Alex Zidani and Felipe Vial.

]]>
WVU BASKETBALL: Mountaineers show off new look in exhibition win http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141109/DM03/141109239 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141109/DM03/141109239 Sun, 9 Nov 2014 21:01:17 -0500

By DREW RUBENSTEIN

FOR THE DAILY MAIL

MORGANTOWN - The West Virginia men's basketball team unveiled a new look Sunday afternoon.

And the eight fresh faces were only half that story.

The Mountaineers gave a Mountaineer Coliseum crowd of 4,879 a peek at their revamped defense during a 109-60 exhibition victory against Division II in-state opponent Shepherd.

There is the "2-2-1 press, diamond press, man-to-man, run-and-jump press - all that," guard Jaysean Paige said of WVU's defensive repertoire. He led the Mountaineers with six steals. "I like pressing in general. With my spot, I've got to anticipate and intercept passes, so regardless of what press we run, I am doing the same thing. I like it. I like getting steals and getting dunks."

WVU had plenty of both against the Rams. The Mountaineers overcame a sluggish start - leading just 25-23 through 12 minutes - behind a suffocating defense that, at times, stretched the entire court.

"That's what we want to do, is just create havoc on defense," WVU senior point guard Juwan Staten said.

Thirteen players scored as WVU produced 43 points on 27 turnovers, including 20 steals. The last time the Mountaineers forced that many turnovers in an actual game was in the 2007-'08 season opener against Maryland Eastern Shore. WVU, which hosts Monmouth in its season opener Friday, did not force 20 turnovers in a game last year.

WVU senior guard Gary Browne said the Mountaineers, who gave up a few easy layups, have much to work on defensively. But he likes that style of play for this year's Mountaineers.

"We are trying to press the whole game. So if someone gets tired, someone comes out, and we have 13 guys who can play," he said. "There might be times that we might whittle down (the rotation) because you've got to have the veteran guys in there and not the guys who aren't playing well. But we're not worrying about that. We're just worrying about everyone playing hard and doing what we ask them to do."

WVU coach Bob Huggins used 16 players and a diamond press he said the team worked on just twice before. Ten Mountaineers scored eight or more points, led by Paige (13). Sophomore forward Devin Williams had a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds, while Staten, who has been nursing an injury this offseason, came off the bench to score 11 points in 18 minutes. Steffen Davis led Shepherd with 14 points.

"I need to get my wind back," said Staten, the Big 12 preseason player of the year. "That's the biggest thing. I haven't had too many days of practice, so I am a little behind. My ankle is fine. My (left) knee is bothering me a little bit, but I am getting healthy."

In addition to Paige, new players Jonathan Holton (nine points and six rebounds), Daxter Miles Jr. (nine points), Jevon Carter (10 points), Tarik Phillip (10 points, three assists and three steals), Charleston's James Long (three points), Elijah Macon (11 points and nine rebounds) and Billydee Williams saw time. Huggins said he does not have a playing rotation and he isn't in a rush to create one.

Rather, he acknowledged pressuring the ball will wear the Mountaineers out, too, "but hopefully we have enough guys that we can survive that."

"It's accumulative effect of pressure, it's what happens," Huggins said of the turnovers his team forced. "I thought Jevon made a lot of big plays for us chasing people down from behind. He chased a couple guys down from behind, flipped it out. When that happens, now you're looking all over the place and you're not really looking to advance the ball or maybe look at guys in scoring areas as much because you're concerned about ball security. That was big for us."

]]>
WVU FOOTBALL: Mountaineers 'wanted it to be easy' http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141109/DM03/141109253 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141109/DM03/141109253 Sun, 9 Nov 2014 17:54:29 -0500 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Tony Gibson didn't like what he saw on the field before kickoff Saturday and then he didn't like what he was hearing from others who shared the same concerns.

No. 24 West Virginia was about to play Texas and the Mountaineers were not ready. They would lose 33-16.

"They were a lit bit down," WVU's defensive coordinator said. "I didn't know if it was because they were locked in or because they were just down a little but, but then a couple coaches brought it to my attention."

The Mountaineers punted on their opening possession, allowed a touchdown on the first Longhorns drive and then couldn't get into the end zone after first-and-goal from the Texas 2-yard line on their second possession.

They were outscored 17-0 in the second quarter, which is their highest-scoring quarter of the season (100 points) but also the one when opponents score the most points (99). The 24-3 score at halftime marked WVU's largest deficit of the season.

"The first half was good old-fashioned butt kicking. That's what it was on all three sides of the ball," coach Dana Holgorsen said. "We got out-coached. We got out-played. We did not play good."

Holgorsen criticized his team's approach, saying his players "wanted it to be easy and it was really hard." He wasn't sure why that was the case and accepted blame for not having his team prepared, but he also realized the last-second loss to TCU a week earlier was still a problem.

"I'm sure that probably had something to do with it," he said.

* * *

The Mountaineers (6-4, 4-3 Big 12) had been 3-0 on the road and 2-0 after losses, but neither of the wins after a loss was on the road. WVU lost the opener to Alabama and then played the Football Championship Subdivision's Towson. WVU lost to Oklahoma and had an off week before playing Kansas.

"We lost three very close games and didn't have to go out on the road in front of 100,000 people after the losses, with the exception of the TCU loss," Holgorsen said. "I didn't handle that one very well. The other ones, I thought we handled a little bit better, but under different circumstances as well. I imagine you have to take the opponent into consideration a little bit. Obviously, Texas has great players."

* * *

Texas gained 174 yards in the second quarter and 266 in the first half. Most of the damage was done on the ground and between the tackles as the Longhorns strutted into the locker room with 178 yards rushing and 8.1 yards per attempt.

"It wasn't a big secret what they were going to do," Gibson said. "They were going to get in double-tight end sets with their big backs and pound us, and they did it. They controlled us up front and ran through our linebackers and ran through our defensive backs."

Texas managed 85 yards of offense in the second half and had five punts, a turnover on downs and an interception on its first seven possessions.

"We decided to play," Gibson said. "The first half, we would have been better off sitting on the bus."

Texas had 10 runs of 11 yards or more to finish with 227 yards. Eight of those long runs came in the first half, and in one five-play stretch the Longhorns had gains of 39, 25, 40 and 22 yards with help from Mountaineer missing tackles.

"Makes you want to puke," Gibson said. "That's what I got from it. We had guys leaving their feet and lunging and just gave them 14 points like that. What's frustrating is when we settle down and play like we normally play in the second half and they don't do anything."

* * *

WVU receiver Kevin White set a school record with 16 receptions and finished with 132 yards. White caught three passes in each of the previous two games for a combined 55 yards. He had five catches for 61 yards after the first quarter Saturday.

"It's not anything we did. It's what they did, and they didn't double-team him like a lot of people have," quarterback Clint Trickett said. "They tried to stop the run and we were able to pass. When we were able to pass, they wanted to stop it, and we weren't able to run it much in the first half. The kind of handcuffed us a little bit, but Kevin made his plays."

* * *

Kicker Josh Lambert, who was named a Lou Groza Award semifinalist last week, missed two field goals. He'd made nine in a row entering the game. He missed consecutive kicks going in the same direction, the first time in his career the sophomore has missed back-to-back kicks in the same game.

Nick O'Toole averaged 40.5 yards on four punts. One was a 32-yarder that gave Texas a short field on a touchdown drive. Another was a touchback after WVU was forced to punt when it took a delay of game penalty lining up for a 57-yard field goal in the same direction Lambert missed.

Mario Alford had a 48-yard kickoff return, but punt returner Vernon Davis let one roll for a 62-yard punt. He also fumbled another punt when he tried to catch it running toward the sideline. The ball rolled out of bounds.

One bright spot was his 16-yard return in the second quarter and a 15-yard facemask penalty against Texas that added to the return. That 31-yard play was WVU's best result on a punt return since 2012.

"Honestly, our field goal kicker was not good," Holgorsen said. "Special teams in general were terrible."

* * *

Safety K.J. Dillon was ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct on Texas' final touchdown. Holgorsen said Dillon is suspended for the first half of the Nov. 20 game against Kansas State. Holgorsen wasn't sure his players were losing their tempers, but understood the conditions on the field.

"It was an emotional game," he said. "It's hard. It's challenging. It means a lot to our guys. There are going to be guys that are going to challenge each other. I would be disappointed if that didn't happen. We have a very tight football team."

]]>
MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Cato makes most of opportunities in blowout http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141109/DM03/141109254 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141109/DM03/141109254 Sun, 9 Nov 2014 17:52:41 -0500 By Derek Redd HATTIESBURG, Miss - Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato's statistics against Southern Mississippi on Saturday were ho-hum. He either tied or set season lows in completions, attempts and passing yards. Yet the senior made plays with his arm and feet in key situations - and reached a couple of major milestones in the process - to help the Thundering Herd thump the Golden Eagles, 63-17.

When Cato finally got the football against Southern Miss, he stood in a position he hadn't all season, down two touchdowns. USM followed a 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive with an onside kick that Tez Parks recovered at the Golden Eagles 44. That led to a six-play, 56-yard touchdown drive, and another onside kick that USM would have recovered if a Golden Eagles player wasn't flagged for an offsides penalty.

Then came a conventional kickoff, and Cato finally got a chance to work.

"I got hyped," Cato said. "I got very hyped. As soon as we went down 14, I already knew. I felt it in myself and felt it through the whole offense. It was just a matter of touching the ball. I just went to a whole other different Cato."

Cato completed three huge passes on Marshall's (9-0, 5-0 Conference USA) first scoring drive. The first was a 23-yard strike to Tommy Shuler. Then came a 12-yarder to Eric Frohnapfel. The third was the most important, a two-yard touchdown to running back Remi Watson that traveled about 25 yards through the air.

Cato said on that play, USM defenders grabbed and hugged Marshall receivers before they got into their routes. Cato scrambled backward to near the USM 25 to elude tacklers, then found Watson in the front right corner of the end zone.

"The play was designed to go to (Frohnapfel) and two people grabbed Froh," Cato said. "That put me in the mode that I had to make something happen, and Remi did a hell of a job staying with the play. He did a great job of catching the ball. I just knew in the back of my mind, I didn't want three points. I wanted seven points."

Cato completed 13 of 19 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns, and added 92 rushing yards and a touchdown on nine carries. The completion total tied Cato's season low, while the total attempts and yardage both were his lowest totals of the year.

Yet here is what those attempts and completions and total yards did accomplish: Cato became Marshall's career leader in all three, eclipsing Herd great Chad Pennington. Cato now has 1,031 career completions, 1,634 attempts and 13,196 yards of total offense. Pennington's official career totals do not take into account his bowl totals, which the NCAA didn't include in career totals until 2002.

* * *

MARSHALL COACH Doc Holliday admitted he was surprised that USM (3-7, 1-5 C-USA) went for and recovered an onside kick after its opening touchdown. He was even more surprised when the Golden Eagles tried it again after their second score. Only a penalty flag kept Southern Miss from getting another short field with a shot at sending the Herd reeling.

"You don't normally do that, but the bottom line is we should have made the play," Holliday said. "They did a really good job of executing it. Give them credit."

USM coach Todd Monken said after the game that his plan was for onside kicks after every Golden Eagles score until Marshall recovered one. That offsides flag killed that strategy and frustrated Monken.

"You're up 14-0 and you get another onside kick and a player that is on our side who has no chance of recovering it is offsides," Monken said. "That is coaching. That is poor."

* * *

THE HERD'S overwhelming win helped it climb up both the Amway coaches poll and Associated Press sportswriters poll. Marshall is 21st in both after sitting at No. 23 last week. The rankings that matter in terms of Marshall's bowl future, the College Football Playoff committee rankings, will be released Tuesday evening. The Herd remains the top ranked Group of Five team in both the writers and coaches polls, but Colorado State is gaining ground. The Rams are 25th in the coaches poll and 23rd in the AP poll, the first week they've been ranked in either.

* * *

MARSHALL'S DEFENSE bounced back from a bumpy first quarter to shut down the Golden Eagles offense. USM gained 131 yards on 19 plays on its two touchdown drives to begin the game. It gained just 169 yards on its remaining 11 drives. Only one of those 11 drives went longer than 49 yards, the 57-yard drive that ended in a Corey Acosta field goal.

Those were the only points the Golden Eagles scored in a 63-3 Marshall run.

"We made a lot of adjustments at halftime to change what they were doing," Rouse said. "We were moving a lot in the first half, so we just stopped moving so much and playing straight up."

The defense sacked USM quarterback Cole Weeks six times and recorded 12 total tackles for a loss, forced three fumbles, recovered two and intercepted Weeks once.

* * *

SENIOR RECEIVER Tommy Shuler celebrated his birthday well Saturday, posting his best numbers in more than a month. His five catches for 80 yards and a touchdown were his best output since his nine-catch, 81-yard, one-touchdown day against Old Dominion. Cato said he wanted to look for Shuler often.

"I really wanted to do that coming into this game, watching film on (Southern Miss)," Cato said. "Their number one coverage was man-to-man. I love my chances with Shuler against anyone one-on-one."

Shuler moved up the Marshall and C-USA career charts in Saturday's game. He now is fifth on the Herd's career receiving yards list (2,951) and tied with Jim Swierczek for 10th in touchdown catches (22). His 269 career receptions are three behind Darius Watts for second in school history and puts him seventh in Conference USA history.

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

]]>
PREP SOCCER: Catholic girls, boys get redemption with titles http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141109/DM03/141109257 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141109/DM03/141109257 Sun, 9 Nov 2014 17:35:16 -0500 By Tom Bragg BECKLEY, W.Va. - Redemption was a common theme among both the Charleston Catholic boys and girls soccer teams at this season's state tournament at the YMCA Soccer Complex in Beckley.

The Irish girls cruised past PikeView in Friday's semifinal then erased the memory of a lopsided loss to Bridgeport in the 2012 state tournament with a 5-0 win Saturday for the program's fourth Class AA/A state championship.

Last season, Catholic was knocked out of the playoffs in the Region 4 title game by rival and eventual state champion Sissonville. The memory of that defeat and the loss to Bridgeport at the Trace Fork Soccer Complex two seasons ago stuck with the Irish players and coaches.

"It hurt pretty bad for them to beat us," Catholic coach Amy Mullen said. "We knew Bridgeport was going to be tough and we needed to play all 80 minutes. We came out strong at the beginning and fortunately enough we put a goal in the first few minutes. (Catholic junior) Jada Bohn did a great job and we got that momentum. You never know what's going to happen and you get that first goal and the momentum just takes you."

Speed and defense, two strengths for Catholic, proved to be factors in Saturday's championship game. Irish junior Caroline Dundervill, one of the fastest players in the state, was able to slip behind the Bridgeport defense for three goals while Catholic's defense was able to limit what Bridgeport's offense could do at the other end of the field.

"Speed's a big part of it," Mullen said. "We have several track stars on our team.

"We talked about how you couldn't let (Bridgeport) turn.

"You couldn't let them receive the ball, turn and shoot. We went over it and over it. Today you've got to be right next to them the whole time."

For the Catholic boys, Saturday's 2-1 win against Weir for the Class AA/A state championship was about re-establishing the Irish as the dominant program in the state.

Catholic's run of four consecutive state titles came to an end at the hands of East Fairmont in last season's state semifinals. That helped drive this season's team back to the top of the class.

"Winning is always the better option," Catholic junior forward Joey Trupo said. "Sometimes it can't happen all the time and you can't dwell on it. You've just got to accept it, work on the rough parts and move on. When you can win it's a great feeling and is better than losing. That's what we've got here."

Second-year Catholic coach Dom Cipollone said he was surprised with how physical the Irish's title game against Weir turned out to be and that the sloppy field conditions from Friday's mix of rain, snow and ice did not help matters for his team.

"Charleston Catholic had four straight championships, so there's a lot of pressure to continue that." he said. "It was a very, very competitive game. I was surprised, to be honest with you. We should have scored more goals. These guys had a ton of opportunities."

* * *

THE GOOD news for Class AAA girls teams is that Winfield senior Jayne Lawman has played her final high school game for the three-time defending state champion Generals. Lawman, last season's state player of the year and one of the 2014 Daily Mail Kanawha Valley girls soccer Co-Players of the Year, capped a stellar prep career with a fourth championship game appearance and third title Saturday when the Generals beat Washington 2-1 in a rematch of last season's championship game.

The bad news? Winfield loses just four seniors off this year's team and brings back a crop of players with multiple years of state tournament experience in 2015.

Lawman, who graduates after this semester and will enroll at Marshall to begin her collegiate soccer career in the spring, said it feels great to leave the program in good hands after another championship run.

"I know how it feels from my freshman year to not be in the middle (of the field for the championship presentation) and to get runner up. I'm glad I never had to experience that again," she said. "It feels awesome to leave with another state championship. You can't leave with anything better than that."

One player Winfield will depend on to carry on Lawman's legacy is freshman Sydney Cavender, the Daily Mail's Kanawha Valley girls Rookie of the Year.

Cavender scored in Saturday's championship game and said there was pressure coming into an established team like Winfield's as a freshman, but she knows going forward the Generals have lots of talent all over the field returning.

"(Scoring in the state title game) seems sort of unreal," Cavender said. "I was so nervous."

"When it went in I was like, "Did that just happen?" I was so happy."

* * *

GEORGE WASHINGTON'S boys team lost in their bid to repeat as Class AAA state champions, with Morgantown knocking off the Patriots 3-1 in Saturday's championship game.

For GW coach Kevin Cushing, who took over for longtime coach Tom Hopper prior to the season when Hopper was diagnosed with lung cancer, there was nothing for his team to hang its heads about after the loss. Hopper died in September and Cushing said the team gathered for a prayer after the game and thanked Hopper for all of his years with the team.

"In that prayer I talked about how I've never been more proud of a group of boys in my life," Cushing said. "They overcame obstacles on and off the field. I couldn't be any more proud of them."

The Patriots lost 10 of 11 starters from last season's state championship team.

"I don't think I've ever fought harder with a group of guys," GW senior Khegan McLane said after Saturday's loss to the Mohigans. "Just the fact that we made it this far. I know Tom is so proud of us. I'm proud of this team as well. I wouldn't want it to end any other way with any other guys. I've played with most of these guys for a really long time."

One member of the GW team that McLane had not played with for a long time is senior Jonah Cosby.

A standout at South Charleston, Cosby transferred to GW prior to this season and was made to feel comfortable right away.

"It's been amazing," Cosby said. "It's been my favorite year so far. I came in as the new guy and they made me feel a part of the team instantly and it's like I've been playing with them my whole life. We just stayed together and the adversity made us stronger. We just kept playing together no matter what and kept working."

Cosby suffered an injury to his right leg in Friday's semifinal against Spring Valley, and despite a noticeable limp played the majority of Saturday's game against Morgantown.

"It was my last game and no matter what injury it was I was going to go on the field and play with my team," he said.

Cushing said he considered pulling Cosby out of the game several times but could not force himself to do it.

"I thought about it three times," Cushing said. "Each time I was going to because he's getting ready to play basketball, but he looked at me and I couldn't do it."

* * *

MORGANTOWN'S Class AAA boys state championship was the first for the Mohigans since 2000 and the fourth in program history, but it was no surprise for coach Joe Melia.

"If you would have told me four years ago or three years ago that we'd be winning a state championship when these guys were seniors I wouldn't have been that surprised," he said. "I'm thrilled for them. I'm trilled for the team and thrilled for the school."

Adding another trophy to the collection is a big deal at Morgantown, Melia said.

"It's huge," he said. "We were close last year when Parkersburg beat us out in the regional final. We had a great season then, but we just didn't have that last completion of our team and we had it this year."

Injuries hurt the Mohigans in 2013 with forward and leading scorer Ben Vester forced to miss half the season. This year, Vester was back and paired with fellow juniors Addison Luck and Zach Kilwein to form the nucleus of what became a state champion caliber offensive attack.

Luck is the son of WVU athletic director Oliver Luck and brother of NFL quarterback Andrew Luck, the latter of whom attended the tournament.

"They're the best offense in the state," Melia said. "By far."

Vester, who played his freshman season in England when his father's job took the family to Europe, also plays for the Riverhounds Academy in Pittsburgh and said those experiences have helped him grow into one of the most dangerous offensive players in West Virginia.

"I've had a lot of experiences as a player playing abroad and playing since I was a young kid here," Vester said. "That's really helped refine my game and give me an edge."

Contact sportswriter Tom Bragg at tom.bragg@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4871. Follow him on Twitter @TomBraggSports.

]]>
MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Herd run game doesn't miss a beat without top RB http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141109/DM03/141109259 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141109/DM03/141109259 Sun, 9 Nov 2014 16:41:44 -0500 By Derek Redd HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Marshall University's stable of running backs served notice to opponents Saturday night that, even without its lead horse, it remains one of the most explosive ground games in college football.

Devon Johnson, who entered the weekend as one of the Football Bowl Subdivision's top rushers, remained a spectator for the Thundering Herd's game against Southern Mississippi. He was treated to yet another dominant Herd performance, his understudies gashing the Golden Eagles for 335 rushing yards in Marshall's 63-17 win.

"It really doesn't matter who's back there," junior Steward Butler said.

For the first time this season, it wasn't going to be Johnson. The junior, who moved to running back from tight end on the eve of preseason camp, entered the weekend third in the FBS in rushing yards per game (150.4) and second in yards per carry (8.78). That workload had taken its toll, though.

Against Florida Atlantic on Oct. 25, trainers fitted Johnson with sleeves over both knees during the game and he went into the locker room before halftime for more work. He still broke the Marshall single-game record with 272 yards on 24 carries, but he was very limited in practice since then.

Even with a bye week to heal, Marshall coach Doc Holliday decided to keep him on the sideline against USM.

"I kind of watched him in warmups and didn't like his body language," Holliday said. "For a guy not to go out and practice for a couple weeks and for me to stick him in there, that probably wouldn't have been fair to him and it wouldn't have been fair to Remi (Watson) or Stew because they worked their asses off to go out there and play."

Both Watson and Butler had the potential for big games. They had them in the past. Butler has six 100-yard rushing games to his credit, and Watson had back-to-back 100-yard games this season against Old Dominion and Akron.

Watson got the start for the Herd (9-0, 5-0 Conference USA) and became the 22nd player in Marshall history to score at least four touchdowns in a game. The first of Watson's four came on the first touchdown catch of his career, a two-yarder from quarterback Rakeem Cato. He then added a pair of seven-yard scoring runs and a one-yarder. Watson shouldered most of the load for Marshall on Saturday, gaining 49 yards on a team-high 17 carries.

Butler came up with the Herd's biggest offensive play, an 83-yard touchdown to start the fourth quarter.

"I just saw a hole and hit it," Butler said. "The O-line opened it up and I knew that, once I got past the linebacker, I knew I was going to score."

Butler, who has been hampered by a groin injury for much of the season, led the Herd with 118 yards on just five carries. He scored two touchdowns, the 83-yarder and a 30-yarder eight seconds into the second quarter, which erased what had been a two-touchdown Southern Miss lead.

Tony Pittman got into the act as well. His 26-yard touchdown with 3:29 left in the game capped Marshall's insane scoring barrage. After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter, the Herd outscored the Golden Eagles 63-3. Of Marshall's nine touchdowns, seven came on the ground.

"It was great to see those running backs go in there and play," Holliday said.

The running backs weren't the only players to gobble up ground yards. Cato rushed for 92 yards and a touchdown himself on nine carries. Every back instrumental in Marshall's dominant rushing performance lauded the players on offense who never recorded a carry - the offensive line.

"All the credit goes to the O-line," Butler said. "Without them, none of that is possible."

Marshall's offensive line had one of its greater challenges this season, trying to neutralize Southern Miss' defensive front, led by lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches. It was a strong, tough, physical group, but Marshall center Chris Jasperse said preparing for that crew was fun.

"We pride ourselves in being nasty and being tough and when we have a defensive line like that, it's a challenge for us and we really, really enjoy all week getting ready for these guys," Jasperse said.

Jasperse said it didn't matter to the line which back was taking the hand-offs. In their eyes, the Herd has plenty of talented contenders for the job.

"Our motto is, look forward and don't worry about who's behind you," Jasperse said. "We've got so many guys who can run back there, it's unreal."

Marshall's 335 rushing yards against Southern Miss was the fourth game this season that the Herd had eclipsed the 300-yard mark on the ground. Johnson's spectator status likely won't last long. Holliday said he could have played Saturday night if necessary. Yet on that night, the Herd, and the Golden Eagles, saw that if Johnson needed to rest, there were plenty of runners who could pick up the slack.

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

]]>
WVU FOOTBALL: Mountaineers made the wrong moves at the wrong times http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141109/DM03/141109261 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141109/DM03/141109261 Sun, 9 Nov 2014 16:25:49 -0500 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Clint Trickett prefers to put interceptions behind him as fast as possible during a game, but Saturday saw one of the rare and nearly fruitful exceptions.

"The kid completely jumped the route and made a hell of a play," the West Virginia quarterback said.

The Mountaineers were holding on late in the first half and caught a break when the Longhorns finally did something wrong and missed a 46-yard field goal. Trickett led the offense onto the field to start at its 28-yard line with 2:18 remaining in the first half. He took the snap and quickly threw to the right to Kevin White, who'd already caught six passes - as many as he had the previous two games.

Cornerback Quandre Diggs read Trickett the whole time and stepped in front of White to pick off the pass at the 36.

"He put all his eggs in one basket," Trickett said.

WVU's defense forced a field goal and the Mountaineers trailed 24-3 at halftime. They spoke in the locker room about what they'd done wrong and what they'd have to do right, and both conversations involved that quick throw Diggs caught instead of White.

The Mountaineers referenced it again in the fourth quarter. The Longhorns led 24-10 and a punt pushed WVU back inside its 2. WVU decided to go back to the quick pass to White, but with a twist. White would run a double-move. He'd first bait Diggs with the inside route the cornerback spotted before and could be expecting again in the tight space up against the end zone. White would then angle back outside so he could run deep.

"We got the coverage we wanted and I thought we'd be able to come through for sure," White said. "We had a great matchup and I'm confident I would have come down with the play. We just didn't have enough time."

Defensive end Cedric Reed ruined everything when he stepped untouched through the line and sacked Trickett for a safety. Reed lined up over right guard Mark Glowinski and right tackle Marquis Lucas. Safety Mykkele Thompson stepped forward over Lucas' right shoulder, and Lucas pointed out Thompson and blocked him on the snap.

No one accounted for Reed, and Trickett had no chance to take advantage of what he saw and what WVU was sure would happen.

"It would have been a 99-yard touchdown," he said.

The Longhorns weren't merely lucky, though. Reed, who had 1 1/2 sacks and four tackles for a loss in the first nine games and three sacks and four tackles for a loss against WVU, banked a play that didn't work earlier in the game, too.

It was the same play he sacked Trickett on for a 26-10 lead. The Longhorns (5-5, 4-3 Big 12) called it earlier, but Reed told his coach, Charlie Strong, he backed off because he saw something in the protection that discouraged him.

"If he would have come through, he would have had another sack," Strong said. "But he ended up getting it right at the right time where we got the safety, and it looks great."

It was that sort of game for WVU, which was undone by intensity, intuition and inches throughout the 33-16 loss, one that knocked the Mountaineers (6-4, 4-3) out of the rankings Sunday. Things started ominously after the offense zipped down the field on its second drive and had first-and-goal from the 2, but couldn't score on three runs.

WVU came close enough on third down that the officials reviewed whether Wendell Smallwood had scored. The officials didn't stop play, though, until just before the Mountaineers snapped the ball on fourth down and Smallwood hopped in over the left side. The third down call was unchanged and WVU again lined up on fourth down, but tight end Russell Haughton-James flinched for a false start and WVU settled for a 22-yard field goal.

"That killed us," Holgorsen said.

He acquitted the officials and said they were simply doing their job. The bigger problem was his players hadn't done theirs.

"We should have done something about the push to get in on third down," Holgorsen said.

WVU would then miss a field goal before punting three consecutive times. The first came after left tackle Adam Pankey cost the offense 15 yards with a chop block. That flag, one of three against Pankey, changed a third-and-2 at the WVU 26 into second-and-16 at the 12.

Then again, third-and-2 was far from a sure thing. The next two punts came after the offense had third-and-2 at its 33 and gained just 1 yard. Texas scored for a 21-3 lead after the first and missed a field after the second.

"Those situations, in my opinion, that's when effort is revealed," offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "In those short-yardage situations where they weren't necessarily stacking the box, we should be able to get the first down and we didn't."

WVU's defense excelled in the second half, but had given the offense no reason to think that would be the outcome. On the first possession after halftime, WVU had first-and-10 at the Texas 11. Andrew Buie ran for a yard and Diggs played behind White to defend a fade route. On third down, Mario Alford caught a short pass sweeping across the middle and gained two yards. Down 24-3, the Mountaineers decided to go for it and ran basically the same play to White for a loss of a yard.

Texas, which entered the game ranked No. 20 nationally in red zone defense and held WVU to two touchdowns and a field goal in five trips, dropped its coverage into the end zone on both plays. Alford and White were tackled by linebacker Jordan Hicks.

"At that point in the game, you can look back and say, 'Yeah, we could have kicked it,'" Dawson said. "But we weren't getting down there, and at that point we needed a touchdown. On the play before, I thought we should have had more, but Mario got tackled from behind. On the next play, we were just putting the ball in play to Kevin and trying to get one of our better players the ball to see what he could do."

]]>
MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Herd rises to No. 21 in AP poll http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141109/ARTICLE/141109265 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141109/ARTICLE/141109265 Sun, 9 Nov 2014 15:22:28 -0500

FROM STAFF REPORTS

The Marshall University football team moved up two spots, to No. 21, in the latest Associated Press top 25 poll. The rankings were released Sunday afternoon.

The Thundering Herd is one of three undefeated teams remaining in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Marshall is 9-0 overall and 5-0 in Conference USA play after Saturday's 63-17 win at Southern Mississippi.

Mississippi State and Florida State, the other two unbeaten teams, remained in the top two spots of the sportswriters' poll. Oregon moved up two spots to no. 5, Alabama stayed at No. 4 and TCU moved up one spot to fifth.

The Herd isn't the only Group of Five team in the top 25. Colorado State, which is 9-1, cracked the rankings.

West Virginia (6-4, 4-3 Big 12) tumbled out of the rankings for the first time in three weeks after Saturday's loss at Texas.

]]>
WVU FOOTBALL: Mountaineers knocked off by underdog Texas http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141109/DM03/141109270 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141109/DM03/141109270 Sun, 9 Nov 2014 07:55:23 -0500 By Mike Casazza AUSTIN, Texas - What the devastating nature of last week's loss to TCU did, apart from break hearts inside a sullen West Virginia locker room, was mask the fact the Mountaineers did a lot of good things that could have combined to beat a team in the top 10.

Saturday was quite different here and there can be no mistaking WVU did more than enough bad things to lose to Texas, 33-16.

There were missed field goals, horribly timed penalties, an interception deep in WVU's territory, a failed fourth down inside the opponent's 10-yard line, a little bit of interference from the officials and plenty of poor blocking, tackling, passing, running and defending to see the Mountaineers limp into an open week before playing host to Kansas State Nov. 20.

The biggest mistake came before kickoff, though. Coaches and players agreed the Mountaineers were not ready to play before the crowd of 95,714 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

"Obviously not," WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said. "We got out-coached and out-played on all on three sides of the ball in the first half. We weren't ready to play. We wanted it to be easy and it was hard. We wanted it to be easy and it was really hard. I don't know why. I didn't do a very good job getting the guys ready.

"I thought we had a very good week of practice. Was it a TCU hangover? I'm sure that probably had something to do with it."

Texas, which hadn't had a 100-yard rusher all season before last week, added another against WVU and came close to a second. Johnathan Gray ran 10 times for 101 yards and three scores and Malcolm Brown added 90 yards on 20 carries. The Longhorns finished with 227 yards rushing and averaged 5.8 yards per carry.

"We came out sluggish and couldn't stop the run," West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said. "That's 100 percent on me. They controlled the line of scrimmage and did what they wanted to do."

Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes was 11 for 24 for 124 yards and a touchdown.

"We knew the kid couldn't beat us with his arm," Gibson said. "We knew the backs were the key to the game and we couldn't stop it."

Gibson's defense rebounded in the second half and on the first seven possessions forced five punts and a turnover downs and intercepted Swoopes. The trouble, though, was his team trailed 24-3 at halftime, the first time WVU trailed by more than 18 points all season.

"The first half," Gibson said, "we would have been better off sitting on the bus."

WVU's Kevin White ended a two-game slump that saw six catches for 55 yards with a school-record 16 receptions for 132 yards. Teammate Dreamius Smith ran 10 times for 100 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Clint Trickett was 33 for 46 for 234 yards and no touchdowns. WVU was 3-for-17 on third down and 3-for-5 on fourth down and managed two touchdowns and a field goal in five red zone possessions.

"That's the story of the game, really," WVU offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "We got plenty of opportunities, got the ball down there plenty and we just didn't get enough points out of it."

The Mountaineers (6-4, 4-3 Big 12) attempted to make a game of it in the fourth quarter. Smith's 9-yard touchdown made it 24-10, but they could have been much closer. Texas punted to start the second half and the Mountaineers had ball at their 42. They moved to the Texas 11 without confronting a third down until it was third-and-9 at the 10 and a short pass across the middle gained two yards. Down 24-3, the Mountaineers decided to go for it and ran a similar play with a worse result as White was tackled for a loss of a yard.

Texas would punt again and WVU would meet fourth down again, this time at its 42, and decide to go for it again. Trickett completed a pass to Jordan Thompson for 15 yards, but kicker Josh Lambert would be needed for a 40-yard field goal that he missed wide left, his second miss in the game, both in the same direction.

WVU's defense forced a punt again and WVU would convert a pair of fourth downs on the drive that ended with Smith's touchdown run. Texas punted again WVU took over inside its 2. Defensive end then Cedric Reed took things into his hands.

He first came untouched from the left side through a confused offensive line and sacked Trickett in the end zone for safety and a 26-10 lead. The Longhorns turned the ball over on downs and then had WVU in third-and-long. Reed lined up on the right and powered past Adam Pankey to sack and strip Trickett. Defensive lineman Paul Boyette, Jr., recovered at the WVU 20.

Reed finished with 12 tackles, three sacks and four tackles for a loss. He had 1 1-2 and four tackles for a loss in the first nine games.

"It was amazing to see him come alive," Texas coach Charlie Strong said.

Swoopes was intercepted by Daryl Worley three plays later and Smith ran 62 yards up the right side and then caught a pass on the left side and picked up 11. Smallwood scored on a 3-yard run two plays later to make it 26-16, but WVU couldn't add the 2-point conversion.

Texas punted and WVU soon had another fourth down. Pankey flinched to create fourth-and-9 and Trickett was pressured and threw to no one to turn the ball over on downs. Gray scored on a 15-yard run on the next snap to make it 33-16.

The Mountaineers started in a way that hinted at coming problems. They lined up on the first possession for a 57-yard field goal into a wind that kicked up to 15 mph at kickoff. It never happened because WVU was penalized for a delay of game. Then Nick O'Toole punted into the end zone for his second touchback of the season.

Texas answered with a touchdown, but not without help from the Mountaineers. The Longhorns overcame a third-and-15 with a 16-yard pass on a route to the first-down marker. A pass interference penalty on Terrell Chestnut gave the Longhorns the ball on the 2. They ran twice for no gain and Swoopes rolled right on third down and threw to tight end Geoff Swaim in the back of the end zone.

Mario Alford returned the kickoff 58 yards and WVU was inside the Texas 10 in four plays. It was first-and-goal at the 2 when Smallwood gained a yard, Trickett overthrew White and Smallwood was stopped short. WVU went for it on fourth down and Smallwood hopped in over the left side, but not before the officials stopped the play to review whether Smallwood scored on third down.

It was decided he hadn't, and tight end Russell Haughton-James jumped for a false start on fourth down and WVU settled for Lambert's 22-yard field goal.

"That's just part of it and that's not anybody's fault," Holgorsen said. "We were close to the goal line and we didn't get it. We could have done something about the push to get in on third down."

The defense forced a punt and the Mountaineers started at their 1 and picked up a first down, but the offense back moved back 15 yards with a chop block penalty. WVU had to punt, but O'Toole's kick traveled 32 yards and Gray scored on a 39-yard run three plays later for a 14-3 lead. Gray broke a tackle in the backfield and then juked Karl Joseph to get to the sideline and outrun the defenders for a dive across the goal line.

The Mountaineers went three-and-out and Brown gained 25 yards and Gray picked up 40 before pass interference on Ishmael Banks in the end zone gave Texas the ball at the 2. Gray scored for a 21-3 lead.

Another three-and-out followed, and Texas moved again into WVU territory, but stalled and settled for a 46-yard field goal that was blocked by K.J. Dillon. Trickett locked on White and didn't fool cornerback Quandre Diggs, who picked Trickett off on the next play. A 39-yard field goal gave Texas 24-3 lead at the half.

]]>
WVU FOOTBALL: Big 12 title hopes fading with loss to Texas http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141109/ARTICLE/141109271 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141109/ARTICLE/141109271 Sun, 9 Nov 2014 07:48:09 -0500

By JIM VERTUNO<\n>AP Sports Writer

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - These late-season swoons in the Big 12 are all too familiar for West Virginia. The Mountaineers certainly don't want another one.

But after a 33-16 loss to Texas on Saturday, the No. 24 Mountaineers have watched their Big 12 title hopes collapse and a once-promising start begin fading into memory.
Johnathan Gray scored three touchdowns to lead Texas (5-5, 4-3 Big 12), which inched closer to a possible bowl game in head coach Charlie Strong's first season.
Gray ran for 101 yards and scored on runs of 39, 2 and 15 yards as Texas ended a streak of nine straight home losses to ranked opponents. The Longhorns need to win one of their final two games to be eligible for a bowl. Texas last missed a bowl in 2010 when the Longhorns had a losing season the year after playing for the national championship.
West Virginia (6-4, 4-3, No. 23 CFP) dropped its second consecutive loss. Clint Trickett passed for 248 yards but was sacked three times, once for a safety, and had two turnovers.
Dreamius Smith ran for 101 yards and a touchdown. Kevin White had a school-record 16 catches but was kept out of the end zone.
"We still have a lot to prove," Mountaineers wide receiver Jordan Thompson said. "It's not going to be a 6-6 season. We're going to come out, prove everyone wrong and try to reach our ultimate goal: a good bowl game."
The Mountaineers looked tired, both emotionally and physically, after last week's last-second loss to No. 6 TCU and the 1,400-mile trip to Austin.
"Whether it was a little bit of a hangover, or so to speak, from last week, I don't know," Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen said. "But we weren't ready to play. I take responsibility for that ... We got outcoached, got outplayed."
The Longhorns hadn't won two in a row this season and the pressure to reach a bowl was starting to mount for Strong as the season dipped into November with his team well short of becoming eligible. Consecutive conference wins will brighten that outlook with games against Oklahoma State and No. 6 TCU left to play.
"We're not done. This is the first stepping stone toward getting that sixth win," Texas linebacker Jordan Hicks said.
Gray scored twice in the second quarter to propel Texas to 24-3 halftime lead. West Virginia made a late charge for a comeback when Smith scored early in the fourth quarter. But after a long punt pinned West Virginia at its own 2, Trickett was sacked by Texas' Cedric Reed for a safety.
Those points would loom large when the Mountaineers scored again but were still down by 10 and failed on a 2-point conversion. Gray put the game out of reach with his final touchdown with 3:06 to play.
Gray's big second quarter had him looking like the former high school All-America who set national scoring records.
He had struggled to regain his burst and shifty running style after tearing an Achilles tendon against West Virginia last year. But Gray had his best run of the season on Texas' second touchdown when he cut to his left to avoid a tackle, then used a dazzling move in the open field to escape another before diving for the pylon.
Gray set up Texas' next touchdown with a 40-yard run before scoring. After Trickett threw an interception, Nick Rose kicked a 39-yard field goal to make it 24-3 at halftime.
"I'm just getting a feel for the game," Gray said. "I was out for so long. I felt great tonight."
West Virginia had a chance to make a game of by driving inside the Texas 10 early in the third quarter, but two big tackles by Hicks on third and fourth down stopped the drive.
"You can't win a football game like that," West Virginia defensive lineman Kyle Rose said. "You get down 24 points ... it's hard to come back from."

]]>
MARSHALL FOOTBALL: No. 23 Herd pummels Southern Miss, 63-17 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141108/DM03/141109272 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141108/DM03/141109272 Sat, 8 Nov 2014 23:44:16 -0500 By Derek Redd HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Mississippi football team pulled out all the stops in its bid to upset the No. 23 Marshall Thundering Herd. The Golden Eagles ran out of stops about 10 minutes into the game.

After some early hocus-pocus put the Herd in a two-touchdown hole, Marshall returned to its dominating form, barreling past USM, 63-17, on Saturday night at Roberts Stadium.

"It's evident that we had a little adversity early on," Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. "Our kids overcame that little bit of adversity we had and played well the rest of the game.

"That's what these kids do," he added. "They faced a little adversity, and they don't get rattled and they just go play."

Even without the services of Conference USA's leading rusher, Devon Johnson, the Herd (9-0, 5-0 C-USA) still racked up 335 rushing yards, thanks to 118 yards and two touchdowns on five carries by backup running back Steward Butler and a three-touchdown night from running back Remi Watson.

Southern Miss (3-7, 1-5 C-USA) put the Herd on its heels in the opening minutes. After starting the game with a 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, capped by Ito Smith's two-yard score, the Golden Eagles recovered an onside kick against an unsuspecting Marshall. USM made that trickery count with another touchdown drive, this one six plays for 56 yards, ending in another Ito two-yard touchdown.

USM then stunned the Herd by recovering another onside kick, but that one was wiped away by an offsides penalty on the Golden Eagles. Southern Miss kicked the ball deep on the next attempt, but watched that two-touchdown lead disappear quickly.

Marshall scored three straight touchdowns for a 21-14 lead. The first came when Cato, on third and goal from the USM 2, scrambled all the way back to near the USM 30 before firing a pass to Remi Watson in the front right corner of the end zone. Steward Butler scored a 30-yard touchdown on the next drive and Watson scored from seven yards out on the drive after that.

Southern Miss could muster a 35-yard Corey Acosta field goal to cut Marshall's lead to 28-17, but the Herd struck back with Cato's two-yard touchdown pass to Tommy Shuler for a 28-17 lead Marshall took into halftime.

After gaining 131 total yards on 19 plays on those first two scoring drives, Southern Miss gained just 55 on 24 plays for the rest of the half.

It got no better for USM in the second half. The Eagles gained just 114 yards after halftime while the Herd gained steam. After falling behind 14-0, Marshall outscored Southern Miss 63-3.

"Their explosive plays came at the end," USM coach Todd Monken said. "The long run and a couple of times (Cato) pulled it and ran with it, which he is capable of. That's where it came. That is where they are going to come."

Cato finished the game with 186 yards and two touchdowns on 13-of-19 passing. In the process, he became Marshall's career leader in both completions (1,031) and attempts (1,634), eclipsing Chad Pennington for both marks. He also was Marshall's second-leading rusher, gaining 92 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.

After a slow start, Marshall's defense wreaked havoc in USM's backfield, sacking Golden Eagles quarterback Cole Weeks six times, forcing three fumbles and recovering two and snagging one interception. The Herd had 12 total tackles for a loss, with James Rouse pacing the team with four.

"We made a lot of adjustments at halftime to change what they were doing," Rouse said. "We were moving a lot in the first half, so we just stopped moving so much and playing straight up."

Weeks finished with 114 yards on 11-of-19 passing, while Smith led USM with 141 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries.

The Herd hosts Rice next Saturday in a rematch of last season's Conference USA championship game. The Owls took that game and the conference title in a 41-24 win.

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

]]>
PREP SOCCER: Three Kanawha Valley teams claim state titles http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141108/DM03/141109306 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141108/DM03/141109306 Sat, 8 Nov 2014 18:13:41 -0500 By Tom Bragg BECKLEY, W.Va. ­- Kanawha Valley teams won three of the four prep soccer state championships handed out Saturday in Beckley, with a fourth finishing as runner-up.

Charleston Catholic swept the Class AA/A trophies while the Winfield girls won a third consecutive Class AAA title. The Irish boys won a physical battle against Weir, 2-1, to win the small school title for the fifth time in the last six seasons.

"I said in the press conference last year we'd be back," Catholic junior Joey Trupo said. "We worked hard and changed our mental attitude. We kept our word."

Trupo and Anthony Cippolone provided the goals for the Irish, which had to withstand an all-out barrage from the Red Riders in the game's final five minutes.

The Catholic girls cruised to their fourth state championship in program history. The Irish scored early and often in a surprisingly competitive 5-0 win against Bridgeport.

The Indians, which also lost in last year's Class AA/A girls state title game and won the trophy two seasons ago, beat Catholic 7-0 in the semifinals on their way to the 2012 state title. That loss stuck with Irish coach Amy Mullen.

"We had played them before and it hurt to lose," Mullen said. "You can't progress without pain, and we've had the pain. We were ready to take (the state championship) today."

Catholic junior Caroline Dundervill, an Daily Mail All-Kanawha Valley selection, scored three goals on Saturday while teammates Jada Bohn and Jordan Keener adding the other scores.

Winfield championship win came in a rematch of last season's Class AAA girls state title game. The Generals knocked off Washington 2-1 to claim the program's sixth state championship and tie the Parkersburg boys for most prep soccer state titles by a single program in West Virginia high school soccer history.

"It's just awesome to leave with another state championship," said Winfield senior Jayne Lawman, the Daily Mail's Kanawha Valley Co-Player of the Year. "I don't think you can leave better than that. It's a great program. I don't think it's like anyone else. I think we're really different and really close. I know they'll do great next year. I'm excited to come see them.''

Freshman Sydney Cavender, the Daily Mail Kanawha Valley Rookie of the Year, and senior Josee Erlandson scored the goals for Winfield on Saturday.

The George Washington boys were the only area team to play for a state title on Saturday and not win. The Patriots lost 3-1 to Morgantown.

Read more about all of the weekend's state soccer championship action in Monday's Daily Mail.

Contact sportswriter Tom Bragg at tom.bragg@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4871. Follow him on Twitter @TomBraggSports.

]]>
PREP SOCCER: Four Kanawha Valley teams advance to state title games http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141108/DM03/141109333 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141108/DM03/141109333 Sat, 8 Nov 2014 00:28:38 -0500 By Tom Bragg BECKLEY, W.Va. - Kanawha Valley soccer teams have a shot at a sweep of the prep soccer state championships on Saturday.

The George Washington and Charleston Catholic boys, as well as the Winfield and Charleston Catholic girls will all take the fields in Beckley with hopes of raising state championship trophies.

The Winfield girls topped George Washington 3-2 on a late penalty kick by senior Jayne Lawman, the Daily Mail's Kanawha Valley Co-Player of the Year, on Friday at the YMCA Soccer Complex in Beckley. The Generals, in contention for a third consecutive state championship and sixth overall in program history, will take on Washington in a rematch of last year's Class AAA title game. Washington beat Wheeling Park 4-1 in the first Class AAA semifinal of the day.

GW's boys got past state tournament debutante Spring Valley 3-0 to set up a Class AAA state championship game against Morgantown. The Patriots and Mohigans are both in search of a fourth state championship and have combined for 10 title game appearances since boys soccer was sanctioned by the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission in 1988, but the two programs have never previously met for a state championship. The Mohigans beat Jefferson 2-0 in the other Class AAA boys semifinal.

Both Charleston Catholic teams advanced to Saturday's championship games with shutouts in the semifinals. The Irish boys took down defending Class AA/A champion PikeView 3-0 in the afternoon session. Catholic will play Weir, which walloped Grafton 7-2 in the other Class AA/A boys semifinal.

On the girls side, the Irish also played PikeView. Catholic pounced on the Panthers early en route to a 7-0 win to setup a Saturday championship game against 2012 state champion Bridgeport. The Indians topped semifinal opponent Fairmont Senior 8-0 on Friday.

n n n

THE MOST surprising team to reach the championship round is the GW boys.

The Patriots lost the majority of its 2013 Class AAA state champion team, and lost something much more important when longtime coach Tom Hopper died from lung cancer in September.

GW players and coaches wore maroon armbands with the letters "TH" stitched on

"I think a lot of people in the state are surprised, but we aren't surprised," GW coach Kevin Cushing said. "These boys practiced against that team (from last season) for several years, and they were very good. By practicing against the best in the state last year made these boys play at a very high level. Now they're showing how good they are."

n n n

FIELD CONDITIONS were a hot topic in nearly all of the postgame interviews on Friday.

Both fields at the complex were hit hard by a mix of rain, snow and ice early Friday, leaving large, deep patches of mud throughout both playing surfaces.

If you ask the George Washington girls team, the muddy conditions played a large role the deciding goal of their 3-2 loss to Winfield.

Players from each team appeared to collide in the Patriots' penalty area, resulting in a penalty kick that the Generals' Jayne Lawman converted late in the second half.

GW senior goalkeeper Olivia Miller had perhaps the best view on the field of the incident and said there was no contact between the players, but rather the sloppy surface caused them to fall.

"Our player slipped in the mud and so did the Winfield girl," she said. "I was shell shocked they called it."

GW coach Megan Johnson said she thinks the outcome of the game should have been different, but that she could not see exactly what happened, only the girls falling.

"I think this game should have had a different outcome but that's what happens in the game of soccer," she said. "I think that we played the best game I've ever seen my girls play. Unfortunately it had to end in a 3-2 loss."

Johnson said if another field that was in better condition was available, they should have attempted to move the game.

"I think if they play regionals on turf they should play states on turf," she said. "At least if they know the field conditions are going to be like this move it to a field where the grass isn't as bad. They were slipping and sliding and could hardly stand or move. It was bad field conditions but just an unlucky day. I think the girls deserved to win today."

Winfield coach Marshall Hoff agreed that the conditions likely played a part in the decision to award the penalty kick, but that from his vantage point it still looked like the correct call.

"I think a lot of the call came from the late hit," Hoff said. "If she would of veered away from it and not taken her into it, it would have been OK. I don't think it was bad call, I think it was a momentum foul. I don't think it was intentional."

n n n

CHARLESTON CATHOLIC'S boys had perhaps the most physical game of the day when the field for the Class AA/A games was at its worst.

The Irish's 3-0 win against PikeView featured lots of collisions and its fair share of fouls as the playing surface went from somewhat sloppy to a mud pit as the game progressed.

"We knew what it was going to be like," Catholic junior Joey Trupo, the Daily Mail's Kanawha Valley boys Player of the Year, said. "We played (PikeView) before and beat them 1-0 on our home field. The biggest thing was our mental attitude. We had to come out hard and we did, and the score reflected that.

"We've never played on a field like that this year. Last year it was similar but not as bad. We pulled through though, so I'm happy with that. "

Second-year Catholic coach Dominic Cipollone saw the Irish end its streak of four consecutive state championships with a loss against East Fairmont in the semifinals last season, but with the team back in the Class AA/A championship game he said he is pleased to be playing for another trophy in Beckley.

"I'm very happy we made it as opposed to last year when we lost," he said. "I told these guys I wish I could have played on the team, because I would have gone out there. I know my son (Catholic's Anthony Cipollone) laughs at me when I say stuff like that but that was the whole attitude."

Contact sportswriter Tom Bragg at tom.bragg@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4871. Follow him on Twitter @TomBraggSports.

]]>