www.charlestondailymail.com Sports http://www.charlestondailymail.com Daily Mail feed en-us Copyright 2014, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers PREP CROSS COUNTRY: Buffalo, Capital runners snag weekend wins http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140901/DM03/140909975 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140901/DM03/140909975 Mon, 1 Sep 2014 00:01:00 -0400 By NICK BROCKMAN

FOR THE DAILY MAIL

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Buffalo's Hayden Harrison and Capital senior Peyton Panger captured individual victories at one of the state's most anticipated regular season cross country meets, the ninth annual St. Mary's Medical Center XC Festival.

Harrison, ranked third in the state by www.runwv.com, won the Class AA-A boys race Saturday at Cabell Midland by defeating top competition including No. 1-ranked Brettley Harris of Webster County. Panger, the top-ranked AAA girls runner, defended her position by winning with a time of 19:55.

"It was pretty good competition," Harrison said of the field. "It was pretty close. I wish I had run a faster time than I did. I wanted to get in the 15s, see if I could do it, but it didn't end up that way. I'm still glad with first. I was satisfied, but it's just the time that I was (disappointed)."

Harrison finished 20 seconds ahead of second-place Harris, with a time of 16:46. After finishing third at the 2013 state championships as a sophomore, Harrison said he feels greater pressure, but he hopes to use it to his advantage.

"It's going to help push me a lot," he said. "That's the good thing about it. Winning state is a possibility. I want to get in the 15:40s or 15:30s, hopefully."

As a team, Buffalo finished eighth of 26 squads. Top-ranked Bridgeport won the team title, with Newark Catholic (Ohio) second and No. 4 Webster County third.

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IN THE girls AAA race, Panger finished 14 seconds ahead of Thomas Worthington (Ohio) sophomore Hannah Moulton. Thomas Worthington captured the team championship with a 13-point advantage ahead of second-ranked Hurricane.

Senior Joie Johnson paced the Redskins with a fifth-place showing, while sophomore Anna Gordon placed seventh and junior Abbie Short 11th.

"It was a very well-run race, a very impressive race, because we're a pretty young team this year," coach Jason Henley said. "We've got Joie and Anna and Abbie who are back, but then everyone else is a first-year Hurricane cross country runner that's in my top seven right now."

Hurricane's Putnam County rival Winfield placed third. Generals junior Rachel Englund finished sixth to lead the squad, while freshman Alexis Imperial made an impressive debut by taking eighth.

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THOMAS Worthington won the AAA boys race, with host Cabell Midland taking second. Hurricane finished third.

The Knights' top four claimed spots consecutively (ninth through 12th place) with Nick Salmons, Coy Smith, Josh Minor and Jon Hathaway, as 13 seconds separated the quartet.

Hurricane ran strong, too, with senior Sam Hughes leading the effort in a seventh-place finish.

"Sam Hughes had a phenomenal summer and it really showed," Henley said. "He was another one of those that ran with a lot of intelligence. He probably went up top in 25th or 30th place and he ended up picking up into the top 10."

Henley pulled his son, senior Jake Henley from the race minutes before the start, opting to give the runner more rest as he continues to recover from posterior tibial tendonitis of his left foot.

Musselman senior Shane Rigsby, the state's top runner in preseason rankings, won the individual title, with the day's best time of 16:44. Thomas Worthington claimed the next three spots, while Winfield senior R.J. Weiford placed fifth.

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THE CHARLESTON Catholic girls team also raced strong without a key member, and the Irish will look to build upon the performance.

Payton Mullen, ranked 15th statewide in girls AA-A, left the team for personal reasons earlier in the week, coach Scott Welch said, and while the team will miss Mullen, Catholic impressed in its debut.

"The girls did pretty well," he said. "We brought up another girl and basically had three rookie runners who had never run a cross country meet in their life, and two of them were my four and five runners in the race, and the other was my sixth. They stepped up really well, better than I actually thought they would, particularly under these conditions, so we narrowly got second."

Catholic finished behind top-ranked Berkeley Springs. The Irish edged No. 7 Philip Barbour by one point to hang onto second place. Sophomore Hannah Gacek paced Catholic by taking 13th place individually.

Berkeley Springs senior Danielle Haynes won the individual title with a time of 21:08, almost 20 seconds ahead of her teammate, second-place finisher Kinsey Reed.

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WVU FOOTBALL: Mountaineers a mixed bag against Alabama http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140831/DM03/140839870 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140831/DM03/140839870 Sun, 31 Aug 2014 22:03:28 -0400 By Mike Casazza ATLANTA ­- Sunday came and went here with the West Virginia players filing in early in the morning to get whatever physical treatment was needed after Saturday's 33-23 loss to No. 2 Alabama.

It was the mental treatment that was worrying coach Dana Holgorsen.

Last week.

Four days before his fourth season started with the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game before 70,502 inside the Georgia Dome, Holgorsen forecasted a forthcoming uphill battle

"I've said this a few times: I believe my biggest coaching challenge will be Sunday, regardless of what happens on Saturday, whether we're successful or not," he said. "I think the bigger coaching challenge is going to be on Sunday and getting these guys to overcome what happened, whether it's positive or negative."

The season-opening loss, WVU's first since 2003, did indeed leave the team in a peculiar position. The Mountaineers did plenty of things well enough on offense, defense and even special teams, but also made enough mistakes to contribute mightily to their demise. Afterward, Holgorsen knew Sunday would be as tough as he anticipated.

"These guys are disappointed," he said. "But in the same breath, against the No. 2 team in the country that hasn't lost very many games, we were in position to be able to win in the fourth quarter, so hopefully they held their heads high. They understand that we were close, but we're just not there yet."

The Mountaineers passed for 365 yards against what is one of the nation's best pass defenses every year, but they knew that was coming.

"Our guys were pretty confident," offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "If you asked them before they game, they thought they could move the ball."

They still left unconvinced of their qualifications. The Mountaineers threw for all those yards, but finished with fewer than 400 yards of offense because the running game netted 28 yards on 24 carries, and had only one touchdown.

Three possessions in the red zone yielded a touchdown and three field goals. WVU had six plays inside the Alabama 10-yard line and ended up with six points. Ten snaps inside the 30 in a span bridging the third and four quarters gained three yards and six points - two field goals were good, but one went wide left, which offset some of the good things in the kicking game, including Mario Alford's 100-yard kickoff return touchdown. WVU also dropped three passes on third down that could have been first downs.

WVU was No. 99 nationally last season in the percentage of red zone possessions that ended in touchdowns (52.5) and No. 114 in third down conversion percentage (31.89).

"It gives us confidence because we know we can drive on anyone, but we have to work on getting better in critical situations because that's what got us today," quarterback Clint Trickett said.

He was reminded of what his former coach, Florida State's Jimbo Fisher, liked to remind his players: You can still play good and play bad in critical situations and lose the game.

"That happened to us," he said.

And that's what stung the most. The offense felt like it was built to be better this season and then showcased that with drives of 51, 66, 75 and 79 yards, but ultimately realized its shortcomings kept it from it accomplished anything.

"I don't think this helps us that much, honestly," said receiver Jordan Thompson, who made an odd decision to field a 62-yard punt running backward and then lost a yard to be tackled at his 6-yard line.

"We already knew what we were capable of doing. We feel like we can move the ball on anybody in college football, so going out and executing, it wasn't a surprise. We knew we were going to have to make some plays and sometimes we didn't make those plays and that hurt us."

The defense left feeling the same. Those Mountaineers thought they had more players and better players and that they could prove things would be different from the start, but they ultimately gave in to Alabama's consistent attack.

WVU played much of the game in a 3-3-5 odd stack under Tony Gibson, who is in his second season back on the staff and his first as the defensive coordinator. The group that was again near the bottom of the national rankings in total defense (454.3 yards per game) last season gave up 538 yards. Two running backs had more than 100 yards as Alabama finished with 288 and a quarterback in his first career start completed 24 of 33 passes for 250 yards.

Gibson was left to regret a number of missed tackles and missed opportunities in important spots.

"Disappointed," Gibson said. "We did good things and bad things. I thought we would execute better as a defense and we didn't execute the defense. We were clean on three blitzes -- came right in on him -- and never got him down."

Alabama ended up converting 9 of 13 third downs and holding onto the ball for nearly 38 minutes.

"The one thing that's a positive we can take out of this game is our kids believe in what we're doing," Gibson said. "They executed and played hard and that's the biggest thing. When you've got that on your side and you get to go coach them, you know they're going to get better."

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Chuck McGill: Opener shows how far WVU has come http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140831/DM03/140839871 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140831/DM03/140839871 Sun, 31 Aug 2014 21:59:06 -0400 ATLANTA ­- It wasn't all peachy during West Virginia's visit to Georgia.

There were ill-timed drops, off-the-mark throws, a defense that allowed 500-plus yards of offense for the eighth time under fourth-year football coach Dana Holgorsen and one unfathomable unsportsmanlike penalty call that reshaped the course of an Alabama drive.

But even though WVU had two first-and-goal situations stall for field goals instead of touchdowns, even though the second-ranked Crimson Tide had a pair of 100-yard rushers and a 100-yard receiver, there's plenty of reason to believe this Mountaineers' team is ripe for a better, more competitive season.

In fact, let's start with the score. A regular-season non-conference opponent hadn't played Alabama that close in five seasons, a span of 20 games. The last time was also here in the Georgia Dome, a 34-24 Crimson Tide win over the Virginia Tech Hokies in the 2009 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.

That VT team was ranked fifth, though, as opposed to the unranked Mountaineers who played here Saturday in front of a crowd of 70,502.

In the past five seasons, Alabama has dominated its non-conference regular-season schedule. The Crimson Tide won by an average of 35.3 points in 2009, 36.0 points in 2010, 30.5 points in 2011, 42.8 points in 2012 and 31.8 points last season.

The oddsmakers had WVU destined to not alter those averages too much with a four-touchdown spread in favor of coach Nick Saban and Alabama, but the Mountaineers trailed by single digits and had the ball on the Crimson Tide's side of the field with a chance for a game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter.

"I thought this game was going to be exactly like it was," Saban said. "I really thought West Virginia had a lot better team than anybody thought, and like you all do, which I love you for doing it, is you create perceptions ... so your perception is we're really good and they're not so good, so we're going to come into this game and everybody's expectation is it's going to be a one-sided, lopsided game. I never thought that at all."

Saban, however, couldn't have thought the skinny quarterback his daughter once kissed, Clint Trickett, would pile up the third-most passing yards against a Saban-coached defense since he became LSU's coach in 2000. Trickett completed 29 passes in 42 attempts for a career-best 365 yards against Alabama, which was No. 5 nationally in total defense last season.

The only quarterbacks with better passing days against a Saban defense in the past 15 years are Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel (464 yards last season) and Florida's Rex Grossman (464 yards vs. LSU in 2001).

"My comfort level was obviously better than it's been," Holgorsen said of his senior quarterback. "It's nice to be able to signal things once and be able to communicate with him as far as what we're wanting on the sidelines without having to scream at him or call timeout."

If that made him comfortable, this had to make him squirm. WVU twice marched inside the 10 for first-and-goal situations but left with six combined points instead of 14. On the first trip, on the opening drive of the game, Trickett found receiver Kevin White for a 13-yard gain to the 6, but three plays and three yards later, the Mountaineers settled for a chip-shot field goal.

A similar scenario presented itself in the third quarter after another long Trickett-to-White pitch-and-catch. After a 25-yard gain by White got WVU to the 5-yard line, Trickett underthrew freshman Eli Wellman in the right flat and Wellman couldn't corral the ball for a sure touchdown that would've pulled the Mountaineers within three points.

The next play was a incomplete fade pass to White followed by a snap over Trickett's head on third down that pushed West Virginia back 19 yards.

Two drives, six plays inside the 10, minus-16 yards and a total of eight points left on the field with the miscues.

Trickett was victimized by drops on consecutive drives in the third quarter. Shelton Gibson couldn't haul in a pass beyond the sticks on third down and kicker Josh Lambert pushed a field goal wide on the next play. Jordan Thompson dropped a ball on third down on the next drive and WVU settled for a field goal.

The Mountaineers made it to Alabama's 25 on those two third-quarter drives, but managed only three points.

And while Trickett and White had career days - White hauled in the most catches (nine) and receiving yards (143) of his WVU career ­- the running game sputtered to 28 yards on 24 carries (1.2 yards per rushing attempt).

"I guess that's not very good," Holgorsen said.

No, but there's little to sulk over here as the Mountaineers look to rebound from a 4-8 season in 2013.

Saban only saw West Virginia on film last season, but this team looks like a better team to him.

"They scored a lot of points on a lot of people last year and they struggled defensively," Saban said. "I do think they're a little better defensively than they were a year ago, and I think they can be just as good or better on offense because I think they have the right people in the right places."

Don't tell that to Holgorsen, who is on a four-game losing streak for the second time of his WVU career. He's not into moral victories, even against a program that has three national championships in the past five seasons and six consecutive 10-win seasons.

"We don't want pats on the back," Holgorsen said.

Fair enough. But this Saban guy knows a little about football, and he knows what can be gleaned from the season opener.

"What you find out in the first game is where you are," Saban said.

WVU looks to be in a far better place than a year ago.

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MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Frohnapfel steps up where Hoskins left off http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140831/DM03/140839872 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140831/DM03/140839872 Sun, 31 Aug 2014 21:56:02 -0400 By Derek Redd OXFORD, Ohio - Marshall's tight ends seem to have a knack for the end zone, no matter who is lining up at that spot.

The previous two seasons saw Gator Hoskins, who just made the Miami Dolphins' 53-man roster as a rookie free agent, lead the team in touchdown catches. New Thundering Herd starter Eric Frohnapfel kept the tradition going in Marshall's season-opening 42-27 win over Miami (Ohio), catching a pair of touchdowns.

"That's the opportunity we get as tight ends," Frohnapfel said. "Obviously Gator did that a lot last year, and I'm trying to fill that role. Those two plays were plays that Gator caught a lot of touchdowns on, so hopefully I can continue to fill that role this year."

On his first score from Miami's 11, he lined up close to right tackle Clint Van Horn, sprinted off the line and curled into the end zone, laying out for Cato's throw. The second was a 1-yarder that Frohnapfel snagged in traffic. It was the senior's first two-touchdown game, but not an uncommon occurrence among Marshall's tight ends. Hoskins had four games with at least two touchdown catches last season.

Another catch didn't score, but was crucial to Marshall's win. On the Herd's final scoring drive, the team faced third and 7 at its own 38. Cato zipped a pass across the middle to Frohnapfel for a 29-yard gain. Frohnapfel finished the day with five catches for 54 yards, both team highs.

"The way camp went and preseason practice, I sort of thought I developed myself as that guy, that I could sort of do the same stuff that Gator did," he said.

That is Marshall coach Doc Holliday's hope, that the offense can transition from Hoskins to Frohnapfel with little-to-no drop-off. Holliday thought Saturday was a good start.

"He's a guy we feel can make plays in the red zone, and he needs to do that," Holliday said.

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THE HERD'S defense didn't have the dominant day versus the RedHawks that it did in last season's opener, but it came up with some big stops when Marshall needed them.

Marshall allowed just 239 yards of total offense, and just 165 yards passing, in last year's blowout. New Miami quarterback Andrew Hendrix, a graduate transfer from Notre Dame, attacked the Herd for 318 passing yards and three touchdowns on 24-of-49 passing. Yet there were plenty of opportunities where Miami couldn't succeed.

The RedHawks converted just five of 19 third downs and one of five fourth downs. One of those fourth-down stops came at the end of the first half. Miami had gotten down to the Herd 1 and on the half's final play, Hendrix tossed a pass to Frazier that corner Darryl Roberts swatted away, leaving Miami to walk into its locker room down 28-3.

"I thought that play at the end of the half was huge," Holliday said. "It was fourth down at the end of the half and I thought that was the biggest play of the game, to be honest. It was a great play by (Roberts)."

The Herd defense gave up 418 yards of offense, but sacked Hendrix four times, hurried him seven times, broke up four passes and intercepted him once. That pick came in the third quarter when Hendrix through a pass right into safety A.J. Leggett's bread basket.

Holliday said Marshall's defensive depth was a big help.

"The thing is, we have a lot of players," he said. "We rolled a lot of guys in and out. I thought our defense, we gave up some big plays we don't normally give up, but we'll make those plays."

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DEPTH BECAME crucial at several positions Saturday, as several key players were not in pads. Kickoff specialist Amoreto Curraj, limited by an unspecified injury all preseason, did not make the trip to Oxford. Kaare Vedvik handled kickoff duties and booted three touchbacks. Running back Steward Butler and corner Keith Baxter were with the team, but in street clothes. Holliday said Butler got "a shot in his stomach" and Baxter was dealing with a hamstring injury, and he hoped both would be available for Saturday's home opener versus Rhode Island.

Starting left tackle Sebastian Johansson injured his ankle and spent part of the game in a protective boot. Freshman A.J. Addison came into the game in Johansson's place. Addison wasn't the only true freshman making his debut Saturday. Defensive back Antavis Roe and tight end Ryan Yurachek also played.

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CATO'S FIRST touchdown to Frohnapfel extended his streak of games with a touchdown pass to 33, the longest active streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The record is 38 straight by former North Carolina State and Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson from 2009-11. His three touchdowns gave him 61 career red zone touchdown passes against just one interception.

The senior finished the day with 261 yards on 20 of 32 passing and stayed interception free.

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.

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MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Johnson makes early impact at new position http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140831/DM03/140839873 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140831/DM03/140839873 Sun, 31 Aug 2014 21:55:56 -0400 By Derek Redd OXFORD, Ohio - The fans at Yager Stadium watched Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato scramble in for a 2-yard touchdown, setting the final score in the Thundering Herd's 42-27 win over Miami (Ohio). There were a few guys who didn't, though, and that part of the play might have been just as important.

The Cato run was a read-option, where he could choose to give the ball to tailback Devon Johnson or pull out the ball and keep it himself. He chose the latter, but the Miami defense engulfed Johnson because it wasn't about to let the former succeed.

"I remember there was, like, six of them that dove on me," Johnson said. "I'd seen them all coming, so I figured Cato was going to pull it, and Cato's a great quarterback and made a great decision."

That's the amount of respect that the first-time college tailback gained after a little less than four quarters Saturday, earned through a 151-yard, two touchdown performance.

"It felt great," Johnson said. "It felt like I did my job, that the defense was thinking I was getting the ball."

Marshall gave them plenty of reasons to expect it. In his debut as the Herd's primary ball-carrier, the junior carried 19 times and was stopped behind the line of scrimmage just once, a loss of one yard on the drive that ended in Cato's touchdown run.

That was among the reasons that Marshall coach Doc Holliday moved the former fullback, linebacker and tight end moved to tailback. His 6-foot-1, 243-pound frame makes him tough to knock backward, which made him the top option as both a runner and blocker.

"He's, overall, a really good player," Holliday said. "He gives us that physical presence and he brings that attitude back there that we need."

The Herd needed it most, and got it, about halfway through the fourth quarter. The RedHawks cut a 28-3 deficit to 28-20 by scoring 17 straight third-quarter points. New Miami quarterback Andrew Hendrix, who followed new coach Chuck Martin from Notre Dame, threw a pair of touchdowns and 24-yard Kaleb Patterson field goal.

Marshall's first two drives of the fourth quarter ended in a punt and a fourth-down stop. The Herd was facing fourth down again after Remi Watson was stopped two yards short of the marker. On fourth and 2 from the Miami 27, Marshall brought Johnson back into the game. He burst through the middle of the defense and barreled into the end zone.

Johnson said the play originally was designed to go to the left, but Cato pointed out a weakness in the defense, which spurred him to bounce to the right and into the end zone.

"The game was getting close," Johnson said. "We needed a spark, so I wanted to be that spark, to help the team and make sure we get a win. I saw the hole, hit it hard and I knew we needed a play, so I just kept my feet moving."

Holliday said Tuesday that it wasn't just him that liked Johnson in the backfield. Cato enjoyed it, too, having a back of his size and blocking ability beside him. He said after Saturday's game Johnson looked at home in his new spot.

"He was huge," Cato said. "The small yards and all the big gains he had, he did what we had to do. Coach Holliday preached all week to do your job. And he did his job at a 100-percent level."

Marshall had a tougher time with the RedHawks this season as opposed to last season. Their 2013 game ended in a 52-14 runaway Herd win. Miami kept it closer Saturday, but Johnson's strong running in the fourth quarter helped hold the RedHawks at bay.

"We knew there was going to be adversity in this game, but we kept calm," Johnson said. "Like Coach Holliday said, in the second half, they were going to come back and give us a fight. They ain't going to lay down. We fought, too, and pulled a win out in the end."

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.

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WVU SOCCER: No. 11 Mountaineer women top Elon http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140831/DM03/140839874 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140831/DM03/140839874 Sun, 31 Aug 2014 21:47:28 -0400 MORGANTOWN, W.Va - The 11th-ranked West Virginia University women's soccer team earned its first 2014 victory at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium on Sunday, defeating Elon, 2-0.

The Mountaineers (2-2) controlled possession throughout the match and throttled the visitors statistically, outshooting Elon 27-1, including nine shots on-goal. WVU also earned a 10-2 advantage on corner kicks over the Phoenix (1-3).

Five Mountaineers finished with at least three shots each, with junior forward Kailey Utley leading the pack with six shots, including a game-high three on-goal; both marks are career highs.

Junior goalkeeper Hannah Steadman earned the shutout, her first as a Mountaineer. Elon's Sydney Branson suffered the loss; three goalkeepers saw time for the Phoenix.

Despite taking 21 shots in the first half, the Mountaineers needed a penalty kick in the 45th minute to finally get on the board, with senior defender Jess Crowder earning the score, her first career goal. Crowder's opportunity followed a foul drawn by freshman forward Toryn Broadwater in the box.

In the 63rd minute, junior midfielder Cari Price played a nice ball to a streaking Utley. After playing with the Phoenix defense and drawing Elon's Kate

Murphy out of the goal, she sent a cross to senior forward Kate Schwindel right at the line for the easy score.

The goal was Schwindel's third of the season, and the Livingston, New Jersey, native now ranks No. 8 in the Mountaineer record book with 29 career goals.

The Mountaineers play host to the 90 Minute Classic next weekend. WVU meets Hofstra at 7 p.m. on Friday and UNC Greensboro at 5 p.m. on Sept. 7.

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MARSHALL VOLLEYBALL: Herd drops one at home to Virginia http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140831/DM03/140839875 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140831/DM03/140839875 Sun, 31 Aug 2014 21:44:30 -0400 HUNTINGTON - Marshall volleyball concluded its home opener weekend with a 3-0 loss to Virginia, but pressured the Cavaliers all match, falling in scores of 27-25, 25-20, and 28-26.

Junior middle blocker Jillian Shemanski (Jupiter, Fla.) continued to be a force at the net, picking up seven total blocks during the match in addition to five kills. Shemanski was awarded All-Tournament honors, recording 20 blocks on the weekend.

Marshall will travel to face Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday before heading to Mount Pleasant, Mich., for the CMU Tournament next weekend.

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MARSHALL SOCCER: Cleveland State knocks off Herd http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140831/DM03/140839876 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140831/DM03/140839876 Sun, 31 Aug 2014 21:39:30 -0400 HUNTINGTON - The Marshall men's soccer team dropped its second regular season game with a 2-0 loss to Cleveland State on Sunday. Goals by Kareem Banton and a free kick goal by Hesham Hammouda set up the win for the Vikings.

Marshall and Cleveland State entered the second half scoreless, but things changed in the 60th minute, when Hammouda fired in a cross from the near sideline that found an open Banton. Banton struck the ball with the outside of his foot, which sent the ball rocketing past the near post of Marshall goalkeeper Bijan Gloston.

In the 85th minute, Gloston received a red card from a foul just outside of his 18-yard box, which sent in Herd freshman Goalkeeper Dominik Reining. The first kick Reining saw was a free kick, which was scored by Hammouda at the near post.

The closest the Herd came to scoring was in the 83rd minute, when a Nick Edginton header was saved at the last second by Vikings goalkeeper Nick Ciraldo.

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PREP VOLLEYBALL: Teams prepare for start of season http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140831/DM03/140839877 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140831/DM03/140839877 Sun, 31 Aug 2014 21:37:14 -0400 By Michael Dailey CHARLESTON, W.Va. - There's been plenty of activity around local football and soccer fields with their respective 2014 high school seasons already underway.

But area gymnasiums have also been abuzz as high school volleyball teams prepare to begin their regular seasons this week, with several programs welcoming first-year coaches.

Here's a quick look at Kanawha and Putnam County teams as they begin the season with hopes for a state tournament berth at the Charleston Civic Center in November.

n Buffalo - The Bison return seven regulars back from a team that finished 31-18 last season. "We expect to be one of the four or five best teams in the state this year," said coach Brian Null. "The last two years we've been beaten by the eventual state champions in regional play, but we've got pretty high expectations this year if we can stay healthy."

Class A 1st team All State performer Ali Burdette returns for her senior season, along with 2nd team All State selection Madison Null. Other major contributors will be seniors Taylor Briscoe, Carrie Metz, Makala Bailes and juniors Rachel Martin, Shelby Turley, Ashley Arthur, Kayla Willbond and Hannah Parkins.

n Charleston Catholic ­- The Irish made the Class A state tournament field last season and return several regulars for first-year coach Courtney Furgason. The Irish had three coaches from the end of the 2012 season through the 2013 season and Furgason hopes to end that constant change.

"We're a young team, but we're hungry," said Furgason. "Hopefully I can come in and add some consistency and stability. The girls are working so hard, they want to do well, and they're putting in the hours to do that."

Gabby Portillo returns for her junior season after earning 2nd team All State honors last season. She'll be joined by seniors Olivia Lee, Catherine Bandak and Elise Peden, along with fellow juniors Maddy Summers and Rachel Goulin. Sophomore Catherine Herlihy and freshman Alissa McCarty will also see action.

n George Washington - The Patriots lost a pair of All State performers from last season's squad, but return several regulars, along with a pair of transfer players.

"We're going to be a lot different," said coach Missy Smith. "We had some players that were eligible to come back that didn't and we got some transfers in from around the Valley and out of state. We're going to be new and I'm not really sure if that's going to be good or bad yet."

Returning starters include seniors Sarah Thomas, Kristen Ranson and Maryun Abdul-Jalil, along with juniors Delaney Ellis and Lillie Jacobs. Others expected to contribute are junior Samantha Morrissey, a transfer from Ohio, and junior Hannah Jones. Sophomore transfers Malika Houston and Liddy Elmore come in from Capital and Charleston Catholic, respectively, while freshmen Tessa Wymer and Ashley McClung are expected to play. Elmore earned Class A honorable mention All State honors last season.

n Herbert Hoover - The Huskies made the deepest postseason run among Kanawha Valley teams last season, finishing as the Class AA runners-up for the second time in school history.

"We want to continue to build upon our finish from last year," said coach Anita King. "It was a great achievement, but our goal remains to win a championship. We aren't as far along in that quest as we were at this time last year, so we've got a lot of work ahead of us between now and the end of the season to get there."

The Huskies return a pair of All State players in juniors Ashton King, a 2nd team selection, and Allison Rager, a special honorable mention pick.

Other returnees include seniors Kati Angle, Gracetyn Carper and Dallis Shaffer, along with sophomores Debbie Sigman, Lexie Burke, Kelsey Naylor and Audrey Dodd.

n Hurricane - The Redskins have 22 girls on the roster in hopes of getting over the regional hump and into the state tournament. Hurricane has advanced to regional play in each of the past two seasons.

We have two distinctly different group of kids this year," said coach Bill Dimsdale. "We are loaded with juniors (4 returning starters), but at the same time, we have a lot of young talent. We have 10 freshmen and a sophomore, so we have a lot of good young talent."

Hurricane returns six starters overall in senior Michaela Ball, juniors Tiffany Isaacs, Amber Null, Riley Clay and Abigail Osborne, and sophomore Delaney Galvan.

n Nitro - Anna King takes over the Wildcats' program with hopes of ending what's turned into a seasonal coaching carousel.

"The girls have great work ethic and a lot of team unity," said first-year coach Anna King. "The coaching turnover here has been crazy. I'll be the fourth coach for our seniors, but they've been so receptive to change and things seem to be a little more positive. I think we will move forward and get the program going in the right direction."

Top players for the Wildcats will be seniors Nicole Brown, Libby Jarvis, juniors Shelby Bowen, Kaitlyn Evans, Dakotah Shamblin, Madison Soice, Arielle Mullins, Jaci Newcomer and freshmen Kayla Gunnoe, Ashley Baker, Taylor Bailey and Olivia Maroney.

n Poca - Coach Ashley Skeens has spent the better part of this offseason working on the mental aspect of volleyball with her 18 players.

"The girls are really looking good this year," said Skeens. "I've got a lot of newer players and I'm really focusing on their attitudes. We're coming off a off a losing season, so I'm trying to get them back into a winner's mindset."

Senior Haley Wagner, along with juniors Daryn-Nikole Workman, Destinee Keyes, Lauren Bethel, Autumn Reed and Rayssa Cavalcante, and sophomores Gabi Savilla, Sierra Arthur and Summer Randolph are the Dots' top players.

n Riverside - Third-year coach Christina Phalen returns a lot of key returnees among the 39 girls that showed up for the first day of practice.

"We have five returning starters that I've had since their freshman and sophomore years, so we're calling this year the 'Battle for the Banner'", said Phalen. "Riverside has never won sectionals and has never made it regionals or states, so that's our goal this year.

"Our girls have been together for year and now they're ready to show it."

The returning starters are juniors Sam Warner, Marisa Russell, McKenzie Smith, Amanda Cooper and Maleah Kuhn.

Other expected to see action are seniors Brooklyn Long, Jen Henson and Zoey Whitmore, along with juniors Cassidy Johnson, Sam Keenan, Alaya Carpenter and Sierra Mitchell.

n Sissonville - Coach Paul Bradshaw inherits a senior laden roster in his first year on the Indians' bench.

"We return seven seniors and a junior at the varsity level, so we're expecting to make a big push through sectionals and regionals," said Bradshaw. "Every team's goal is to make it to the state championship, but I believe with the senior leadership that we have, we have a good chance to actually push our way through."

The Indians' seniors are Cheyenne Davis, a returning Class AA honorable mention All Stater, along with Bailie Payne, Allie Humphreys, Amanda Young, Andrea Harmon, Lauren Knox and Katelyn Linville. The top returning junior is Brooke McCoy.

n St. Albans - Coach Scott James likes the looks of his team, which is coming off of a sub-.500 record last season.

"I expect us to be better this year," said James. "We've got everybody back but one player and the girls have worked hard this offseason to get better.

"I've been pleased so far, but for us to achieve our potential, we have to be mentally tougher and be more competitive. If we can do that, I think we'll be pretty decent."

Senior returnees for the Red Dragons are Maura James, a 2nd team Class AAA All State performer as a junior, along with Brooke Miles, Devin Lacy and Kalie Berry. Others expected to start are junior Shannon Lavender and sophomores Rachel Burnsworth, Jada Thompson.

n Winfield - Coach Paul Chinuntdet's 2013 youth-laden squad made it as far as they could without reaching the state tournament, before eventually bowing out in a five-game, regional final.

That has the Generals looking forward to this season.

"I anticipate going pretty far this year," said Chinuntdet. "Last year we made it as far as we could with a very young team. We lost two seniors, but the rest were sophomores and freshmen, so I expect good things from those returning players with experience under their belts."

The Generals' returning players will be led by seniors Megan Mourier and Kaitlyn Legg, along with juniors Kelsey Matusic, a returning special honorable mention Class AAA All Stater, and Chelsie Farmer.

Note: Coaches at Capital and South Charleston could not be reached for comment.

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WVU FOOTBALL: Mountaineers miss opportunities, fall to No. 2 Alabama in season opener http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140830/DM03/140839912 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140830/DM03/140839912 Sat, 30 Aug 2014 21:07:11 -0400 By Mike Casazza ATLANTA - Up until one momentous, prolonged and ultimately decisive sequence Saturday, West Virginia withstood Alabama and many of the challenges that come with opening the season in a neutral-site game that feels a little like a road game against the nation's No. 2-ranked team.

It was the trouble the Mountaineers brought on themselves that would cost them so dearly.

They bobbled important possessions inside the Alabama 30-yard line in the third and fourth quarters with poor plays by quarterbacks and receivers and couldn't keep up with the Crimson Tide's rising wave of offense. Alabama capitalized to come away with a 33-23 win in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game before 70,502 inside the Georgia Dome.

"We've got to be better in critical situations, especially against a really good football team," offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "You can't miss opportunities like that and win. Everybody chipped in. Those critical downs keep drives alive and get you points, and at the end we failed in those critical situations."

Within three straight drives bridging the third and fourth quarters, the Mountaineers had 10 plays inside the Alabama 30 - three at the 5 - and came away with 3 yards and 6 points. The Tide followed the first two drives with a touchdown and a field goal for a 30-20 lead.

"Probably the difference in the game for us," Alabama coach Nick Saban said.

T.J. Yeldon had 126 yards and two touchdowns and teammate Derrick Henry added 113 yards and a score as Alabama (1-0) had 288 yards rushing and 538 yards of offense. Fifth-year senior Blake Sims made his first career start and played the whole game at quarterback, completing 24 of 33 passes for 250 yards. Amari Cooper caught 12 passes for 130 yards.

Alabama was 9 for 16 on third down and had three touchdowns and a field goal in its four red-zone possessions. Alabama had 82 plays to WVU's 69 and held onto the ball for 37:47.

"Very frustrating," said West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson, whose debut in charge of the defense coincided with WVU's first season-opening loss since 2003. "I threw everything I could at them. We blitzed. We played man. We played zone. We dropped eight. We brought five. I was trying-­everything we had on the call sheet and we just didn't execute."

WVU's Clint Trickett passed for a career-high 365 yards and completed 29 of 45 passes. Kevin White caught nine passes for 143 yards and a score and running back Wendell Smallwood caught six passes for 73 yards. The Mountaineers had only 28 yards rushing on 24 attempts ­- 20 yards were lost on sacks and a bad snap - and were 5 for 14 on third down with one touchdown and two field goals in three red-zone possessions.

"You play against a really good team and you're in position in the fourth quarter to be able to win the game, you don't have those opportunities very often," WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said.

The Mountaineers (0-1) looked worthy, though, and scored to start the game and then scored to tie it after trailing 10-3 and 17-10. They even got Alabama to turn the ball over on downs to start the second half after the Tide squeezed in a field goal to end the first half ahead 20-17.

But once Trickett scrambled 14 yards and then connected with White for a 26-yard gain to Alabama's 25-yard line, it all started to go badly.

Trickett hurried a throw under pressure and lost a down and nine yards on an intentional grounding penalty before Shelton Gibson dropped a pass at the sticks on third-and-15. That led to a Josh Lambert field-goal attempt, but he pulled his kick to the left.

Alabama followed Henry to a touchdown as he ran for 12, 13 and finally 19 yards into the end zone on a six-play, 70-yard drive.

The Mountaineers moved again with completions to Rushel Shell for 19 yards, Jordan Thompson for 12 and White for 13, but fizzled again. On second-and-8 at Alabama's 25, Trickett threw well behind the uncovered White as he swept across the field. On third down, Thompson dropped a pass that would have again been a first down. This time, Lambert made a 42-yard field goal.

Alabama got points again, but got some help, too, with a curious penalty against the Mountaineers. Sims scrambled right on third-and-9 and gained 5 yards before running out of bounds at WVU's 42 on the WVU sideline. A penalty marker appeared and the Mountaineers were called for unsportsmanlike conduct, with reserve linebacker Sean Walters, who didn't play a single snap, getting the blame. Alabama moved 15 yards closer to a 27-yard field goal for a 30-20 lead.

"Our kids said we tried to catch (Sims)," Gibson said. "But that was big. It gave them three more points when we were within a sore. We hadn't stopped them and we finally thought we had them stopped."

The offense answered once more and had first-and-goal at the 5, but Trickett threw short of an open Eli Wellman, who reached and couldn't hang onto the ball. A fade pass to White was defended in the corner of the end zone and the third-down snap went over Trickett's head. He had to fall on it at the 24 and Lambert converted again from 41 yards to make it 30-23.

The game's first turnover followed as Sims was intercepted near midfield by WVU's Daryl Worley, who returned the ball to the 41. WVU was called for holding on the return, which moved the ball back to its 49, and the Mountaineers could do nothing with a chance to tie the score early to start the fourth quarter.

Alabama followed with a 45-yard field goal for a 33-23 lead.

WVU established itself and its offense from the start. The first snap of the game saw two running backs motion out to join three receivers on a pass play. Shell then carried three times for 20 yards and the defense literally slipped when a cornerback fell and White took a short pass for 29 yards to the Alabama 30. White's third reception of the drive moved the ball to the 6, but a fade route to Alford on third down missed and the Mountaineers settled for Lambert's 20-yard field goal.

The Tide's first play was a 24-yard gain and they were in WVU territory after three snaps, but Sims threw short to an open Cooper on third-and-4 before a 47-yard field goal.

WVU had to punt and got help from a penalty to pin Alabama back to its 5, but the offense snapped the ball 14 times and methodically covered the 95 yards in 6:57. The final four plays of the drive covered 15, 3, 22 and 15 yards.

Down 10-3, the Mountaineers were in a dangerous spot with an offense that had been idle for a long time and had succeeded early by playing fast, but now had to protect a defense that needed a break. Trickett and Alford connected for a 15-yard gain on third-and-5, thanks to a block outside by Thompson, and a play-action pass to Wellman gained 10 yards on third-and-2 to move to Alabama's 23. Two plays later, White jumped over his cornerback for a 19-yard touchdown.

The Tide went three-and-out, but WVU dropped passes on second and third down to punt it back. Alabama converted three third downs, including a 38-yard gain on a short throw to DeAndrew White where cornerbacks Keishawn Richardson, Terrell Chestnut, Brandon Napoleon and Worley missed tackles in the middle of the field before White got the first down. Yeldon scored two plays later on a 1-yard run.

"That play right there broke our backs," Gibson said. "We had all the momentum and we just couldn't make the play."

WVU was again in a challenging situation down 17-10 with 1:57 to go, but Alford returned the kickoff up the right sideline 100 yards for a touchdown and a game record. That left the defense with 1:43 left before halftime. Sims scrambled for 21 yards to the WVU 49 on third-and-2, which made Alabama 7-for-9 on third down. He then completed quick passes for 14, 3 and 8 yards to set up a 41-yard field go to take the head into halftime.

"I thought this game was going to be exactly like what it was," Saban said. "I really thought West Virginia had a lot better team than anybody thought, and what you all do, which I love you for doing it, is create perceptions. Your perception is we're really good and they're not so good, so we're going to come into this game and everybody thinks it's going to be a one-sided, lopsided game, and I never thought that at all."

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WVU FOOTBALL: Trickett, White connect for career days in loss to Alabama http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140830/DM03/140839913 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140830/DM03/140839913 Sat, 30 Aug 2014 20:56:01 -0400 By Chuck McGill ATLANTA ­- West Virginia University seniors Clint Trickett and Kevin White worked together to establish personal bests in Saturday's 33-23 loss to Alabama in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game here at the Georgia Dome.

Trickett, a 6-foot-2, 186-pound quarterback and White, a 6-3, 210-pound wide receiver, connected nine times for 143 yards against the historically stingy Crimson Tide defense. Alabama ranked No. 5 in total defense last season, but Trickett threw for a career-best 365 yards and White had the most receptions (nine) and yards (143) of his WVU career.

Trickett finished 29 for 45 passing with one touchdown ­- a 19-yarder to White in the second quarter - and zero interceptions. Trickett's previous best for passing yardage was 356 in last season's loss to Iowa State. The 29 completions against Alabama is also a personal best.

"I was happy with Clint," WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said. "I thought he played well, he competed well. He knew where to go with the ball.

"He got a little bit antsy back there at times and missed some throws, but when you're looking at what he's looking at, that's going to happen."

White twice had seven catches last season and piled up 130 yards in a loss at Baylor. Saturday's touchdown catch from Trickett marks his third consecutive game with a receiving score. White hauled in the pass in the back-right corner of the end zone to tie the game at 10-10 with 11:58 left of the second quarter.

All of White's first-half catches came on scoring drives. He had three receptions for 50 yards on the opening drive before jumping over Alabama defensive back Bradley Sylve for the game-tying touchdown.

Trickett's 365 passing yards is the 17th-best single-game performance in WVU history.

* * *

Alabama piled up 538 yards of total offense behind first-time starting quarterback Blake Sims, who finished 24 for 33 with 250 passing yards and 42 rushing yards. He didn't have a touchdown and tossed one interception.

Sims beat out Florida State transfer Jacob Coker for the starting job and Coker didn't see action until the final drive. Coker's time almost came in the second quarter, however, when WVU and Alabama were knotted at 10-10 and 17-17.

"In the second quarter Blake got a little bit rattled," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "He called a couple formations wrong in the huddle, he called a couple plays wrong. We had to burn a couple timeouts. We went down to one on the (play) clock a couple times."

Alabama went to a no-huddle offense to simplify it for Sims.

The senior broke school records for completions and attempts for a first-time starter at Alabama.

"I thought he played well," Holgorsen said. "I thought he did a good job of running their offense and getting the ball to a bunch of guys that are going to be playing ball for a long, long time."

In addition to Sims' offensive day, running backs T.J. Yeldon (23 carries for 126 yards) and Derrick Henry (17 carries for 113 yards) each had 100-yard games. Yeldon scored twice and Henry once.

Amari Cooper added 12 receptions and 130 receiving yards.

* * *

West Virginia received the opening kickoff and promptly put together a 14-play, 79-yard drive that culminated with a 20-yard chip-shot field goal by Josh Lambert to give the Mountaineers a 3-0 lead. That's just the third time in Alabama's last 34 games that an opposing team has scored on the opening drive.

Trickett was 4 of 7 for 53 yards on the opening drive, and he's only the second QB in that 34-game span to lead his team to points on the opening drive against the Crimson Tide's defense. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is the other. The Heisman Trophy winner led the Aggies to opening-drive touchdowns in last season's 49-42 Alabama win, and in 2012 when Texas A&M lost to the Crimson Tide, 29-24, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

* * *

Mario Alford's 100-yard kickoff return set a Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game record. Alford, a 5-foot-9, 177-pound senior and Greenville, Ga., native, raced down the right sideline for a touchdown to tie the game, 17-17, with 1:43 left of the second quarter.

It was a quick answer for the Mountaineers, who had fallen behind, 17-10, just 14 seconds earlier when Alabama running back Yeldon plunged in from 1-yard out to give the Crimson Tide a touchdown lead.

The Kickoff Game's previous record was held by Virginia Tech's Dyrell Roberts, who had a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the Hokies' 34-24 loss to Alabama here in 2009.

Alford became the eighth player in WVU history with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

* * *

West Virginia had three first-time starters against Alabama: running back Rushel Shell, cornerback Dravon Henry and defensive lineman Noble Nwachukwu.

Shell, a sophomore transfer from Pitt, finished with team-highs in attempts (10) and rushing yards (38) in his debut.

Henry made six tackles and Nwachukwu had five solo tackles.

* * *

The official attendance was 70,502, the fifth-highest in the history of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.

That's the 29th-largest crowd to see West Virginia play and the 30th time at least 70,000 fans have witnessed a Mountaineers football game. WVU is 6-24 in those games.

* * *

Alabama was ranked No. 2 in the preseason Associated Press poll, making this the 18th time West Virginia has faced a team ranked in the top two in the national polls. The Mountaineers are now 0-8 all-time against teams ranked No. 2, and 0-18 against teams occupying the top two spots in the media rankings.

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MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Herd pulls away from RedHawks, 42-27, to win season opener http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140830/DM03/140839914 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140830/DM03/140839914 Sat, 30 Aug 2014 20:48:55 -0400 By Derek Redd OXFORD, Ohio - Marshall's football team found out Saturday that the road to potential undefeated season could get slippery.

Leading by as many as three touchdowns in the first half, the Thundering Herd watched Miami (Ohio) make it an eight-point game deep into the fourth quarter before pulling out a 42-27 win Saturday at Yager Stadium.

The final margin came when quarterback Rakeem Cato, who already had thrown three touchdowns, scrambled for a 2-yard score with 2:01 left in the game. The Herd (1-0) converted three third downs on that 11-play drive, its longest of the afternoon.

Saturday's win had a much different look than last year's season-opening win over the RedHawks (0-1). Then, the Herd turned a 14-14 halftime tie into a 52-14 breeze. But Marshall coach Doc Holliday said Saturday that beauty wasn't necessary, and he liked how the team responded in the fourth quarter.

"You know what? It's a win, guys," he said. "You go on the road and beat a football team and you get back on the bus and go home and get ready for next week."

For a while, it looked like this season's win would be easier than last season's. Marshall's quick-strike offense overwhelmed the RedHawks and put the Herd ahead, 21-0, with 14:11 left in the second quarter. None of the three scoring drives lasted longer than 1:57 and two lasted 46 seconds or shorter. But Marshall started to sputter later in the second and into the third, as Miami finally got rolling.

After scoring three touchdowns in a little over 15 minutes, Marshall could muster just one - a 2-yard Devon Johnson run with 3:10 left in the first half - until midway through the fourth. Meanwhile, Miami quarterback Andrew Hendrix went to work and led the RedHawks on four second-half scoring drives, throwing three touchdown passes.

"He didn't surprise us," Holliday said. "That kid is a heavily recruited player. If you've got a quarterback that can make the throws he makes, you're going to make some plays."

Marshall finally halted Miami's momentum on a fourth-quarter, fourth-down gamble. On fourth and 2 at Miami's 27, Cato gave the ball to Johnson and the 243-pound junior burst through the middle of the RedHawks defense for his second touchdown of the game. It was the only fourth down the Herd converted in three tries Saturday.

Johnson - who had bounced from fullback to linebacker to tight end before winning the starting tailback job after just three weeks of practicing there - finished the night with 151 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. He was stopped behind the line of scrimmage just once.

"I didn't think I had 150 (yards)," Johnson said. "When they told me I had 150, I was shocked. That surprised me."

Cato, a senior who has received some Heisman Trophy buzz entering the season, completed 20 of 32 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns. Two went to tight end Eric Frohnapfel, who finished with a team-high five catches for 54 yards. Among his most important grabs was the 29-yarder on Marshall's final scoring drive that allowed the Herd to convert on third and 7.

Hendrix, a graduate transfer who followed new RedHawks coach Chuck Martin from Notre Dame, completed 24 of 49 passes for 318 yards, three touchdowns and an interception to Herd safety A.J. Leggett. He also added 46 rushing yards.

Marshall has many eyes upon it this season, as most experts made them the runaway favorite to win the Conference USA title and several predicted they'd represent the Football Bowl Subdivision's five smaller conferences in one of the major bowl games. It wasn't easy to tag a 17th game to Miami's losing streak, the longest current streak in the FBS. But Cato said that winning, no matter how it looked, was most important and that his team handled a tough test well.

"I think the whole sideline, not only the offense but the defense, kept their composure," Cato said. "We knew we were going to have adversity and I think we responded great to that adversity. As long as we keep improving every day, we'll get better."

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.

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WVU FOOTBALL: What will Alabama do with QBs against Mountaineers? http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140830/DM03/140839953 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140830/DM03/140839953 Sat, 30 Aug 2014 00:36:43 -0400

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

ATLANTA - Time to get some answers about Alabama's quarterback competition.

Florida State transfer Jake Coker and fifth-year senior Blake Sims have been vying for the top job throughout preseason practice and coach Nick Saban says they have been running neck-and-neck. The second-ranked Crimson Tide's opener against West Virginia at the Georgia Dome on Saturday is probably another audition for both.

"I think it's our responsibility to give both guys an opportunity," Saban said. "That's how we recruit players to come here, that they're all going to get a fair opportunity to play. We're going to choose the best players that give our team the best opportunity to be successful based on how they perform. Both guys have performed well, and Blake has performed very, very well."

Where exactly this leaves Alabama at the most important position on the field is anybody's guess.

Coker came to Alabama after serving one season as Florida State's backup to Jameis Winston. Seminoles coaches insist that Coker gave the eventual Heisman Trophy winner a legitimate run for the starting job before last season.

Coker arrived in Tuscaloosa with much hype as the presumptive replacement for AJ McCarron. Saban did his best to knock down those assumptions.

Sims' career numbers: 23 of 39 for 244 yards and two touchdowns. Coker's line: 21 for 41, 295, one TD, one interception. Sims is more mobile at 6-foot-0 and 208 pounds. Coker is bigger at 6-5, 230.

Alabama either has two good quarterbacks or two not-good-enough quarterbacks.

Should Tide fans be worried?

Given all Alabama's playmakers, whomever is taking snaps for should be supported about as well as any quarterback in the country. T.J. Yeldon, Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake are all among the best backs in the Southeastern Conference. Wide receiver Amari Cooper is a potential All-American, as is tight end O.J. Howard.

Also, the last time the Tide went into a season with an unsettled quarterback situation, it won the national championship in McCarron's first year as a starter.

So the Tide faithful probably shouldn't stress too much. But this is Bama, where seasons without championships are not taken lightly.

And unsteady quarterback can send even the most finely tuned machine careering off the road to the College Football Playoff and into a Capital One Bowl ditch.

Some other things to know about the first meeting between Alabama and West Virginia.

OH, YEAH, WEST VIRGINIA. The Mountaineers are here, too. Coming off a dreary 4-8 season, West Virginia has a chance to change the trajectory of a program that's been heading in the wrong direction under fourth-year coach Dana Holgorsen.

It's not a good chance - the Mountaineers are 26½-point underdogs - but the opportunity is there.

"You know it's the first game, you've been hitting each other all camp, you want to hit someone else," quarterback Clint Trickett said. "Add to the fact that it's, you know, a team that's almost been a dynasty, a team that's you know, a very well built program you know and we know how good they are and we're going to show them how good we are.

West Virginia does have one thing Alabama does not: a clear No. 1 quarterback. Trickett, another Florida State transfer, never was able to grab hold of the job last year because of injuries.

With good health and a year in Holgorsen's Air Raid system, the Mountaineers are hoping to regain some of the explosiveness they had when Geno Smith was slinging it around Morgantown

'EERS 'EFENSE. There's been almost no D at West Virginia for the last two years. The Mountaineers ranked 112th in the nation in yards per play in 2012 and 92nd last year. This season Tony Gibson takes over as coordinator and former Penn State coordinator Tom Bradley was also added to the staff. The new scheme is a 3-3-5 which is supposed to take advantage of West Virginia's skill and speed at linebacker and defensive back. It's a defense built to stop Big 12 spread offenses - which are nothing like Alabama's attack.

ABOUT THAT ALABAMA OFFENSE. Former Southern California coach Lane Kiffin is now the man in charge. Surely, Tide fans will have patience with him if the offense sputters a bit out of the gate.

SITTING. Alabama middle linebacker Trey DePriest will sit out the opener for an undisclosed NCAA infraction.

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PREP SOCCER ROUNDUP: Sissonville girls top Fairmont Senior on the road http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140829/DM03/140829158 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140829/DM03/140829158 Fri, 29 Aug 2014 00:34:24 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

Sissonville went on the road and beat Fairmont Senior 4-1 in girls high school soccer Thursday.

After the Indians' Taylor Rhodes scored in the first half, two goals in quick succession from Carly Pinkerton and Madison Jones during the first eight minutes of the second half created an insurmountable lead for the visiting Indians.

In addition to her goal, Madison Jones added two assists for Sissonville. The win extends the Indians' unbeaten streak to 28 games, dating back to the beginning of the 2013 season.

SAINT ALBANS 7, CAPITAL 2 - Building a 4-1 lead in the first half, the Red Dragons added three more goals in the second half to down the Cougars at home. Hannah Myers scored five goals and Audrey Good added two more for St. Albans. For Capital, Ally Reeves scored two goals in the loss.

WINFIELD 8, PRINCETON 1 - The Generals scored five goals in the first half, adding three more in the second to defeat the Tigers in Winfield. Jayne Lawman lead the Generals with two goals, and five Winfield players added one goal each.

HURRICANE 6, WOODROW WILSON 1 - Audrey Barber completed a hat trick and then added another goal as Hurricane won easily on the road. Barber also assisted on a goal to finish with five points. Abby Watson scored twice for the Redskins. Woodrow Wilson's Tanner Trostle stopped seven shots on goal and Kelly Mills stopped another four for the Flying Eagles.

CROSS LANES CHRISTIAN 10, SHADY SPRING 0 - Six different Cross Lanes Christian players scored in the early season route of Shady Spring. Aspen Cale kicked off the scoring with the first two goals of the game both unassisted. Rachel Plants and Abby Holbert also netted two goals a piece for the Warriors. Shady Spring's Gabby Lambert stopped 23 shots on goal in the loss.

In boys high school soccer:

WOODROW WILSON 4, HURRICANE 1 - Corey Accord scored the last goal of the first half and first goal of the second half as the Flying Eagles won at home. Colton Hatfield and Curtis Ketchup each added a goal for Woodrow Wilson. Hurricane's Loran Meadows scored the lone goal in the loss.

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Ravenswood gets new bleachers http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140829/DM01/140829216 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140829/DM01/140829216 Fri, 29 Aug 2014 00:01:00 -0400 By Charlotte Ferrell Smith Ravenswood High School kicks off the 2014 football season tonight with new bleachers.

"They are great," said Mick Price, athletic director and head football coach. "It's quite an addition to historic Flinn Field. I can't say enough about the support from the community, superintendent, administration and alumni. So many people have stepped up to help us. If there is a need, the people of Ravenswood get it taken care of."

Ravenswood High School is celebrating 100 years of football this year when most games will be held on home turf.

For a while, the Red Devils faced a stumbling block because new bleachers were needed to replace the dilapidated ones that were condemned and removed last summer. A small, temporary set was used last football season when most of the major games were held elsewhere. To play the big games at home more seating would be needed.

Ravenswood High administrators, coaches, teachers and students have scrambled to gain support for the Stadium Project.

When the concrete bleachers were condemned on the home side of the field, the school swapped sides with the visitors with hopes of returning to the home side with adequate bleachers this year. One side had aluminum bleachers installed in the 1980s. With installation of the new aluminum bleachers this year, each side will seat about 1,600.

"Our donation program funded Ravenswood High School's part of it," said Principal Jo Hendricks. "Our part was $117,400."

The board is kicking in $250,000 with a check to be presented tonight during pre-game activities.

The school's donation drive began at the end of February. Depending upon the level of a donation, donors could have their names on a special sign at the stadium or be recognized in other ways. A "Buy a Seat" donation of $250 included a season pass for 2014 and a name plaque on a stadium seat.

The principal is overwhelmed with the support of the community.

"It is truly amazing," she said.

There was a recent $10,000 donation from Columbia Pipeline Group. There were a few large donations and numerous ones for $100 to $250. She heard of kids giving pennies or selling water at Little League games to raise funds for the project.

"It's a lot of donors," Hendricks said. "A lot of alumni classes bought seats or gave $1,000. The Ravenswood High Athletic Department gave $10,000. We have money from tickets and things. We always try to save a little for something we might need. We needed to buy into it before we could ask other people. Some want to be anonymous."

Construction began in July with work done by Dave York Sports of Lousiville, Kentucky. Most of the project will be completed in time for tonight's game when the Red Devils take on Wahama at 7:30 p.m. Pre-game festivities begin at 7 p.m. Finishing touches to be added include things such as signs, fencing and a wheelchair ramp.

Everything is targeted for completion in time for homecoming on Oct. 11 when former football players and band members are expected to attend. Ravenswood High will play Braxton County High at 7:30 p.m. on home turf that day.

Plans call for phase two of the stadium project down the road. As funding becomes available, a new press box will be added. Cost of the second phase has not yet been determined.

However, officials are quite pleased to have come so far with the Stadium Project.

"I am thrilled, definitely," Hendricks said. "It has been a great coming together, a true blessing."

Among those to be on hand tonight are Jackson County Superintendent Blaine Hess, Assistant Superintendent Keith Burdette and some school board members.

Hess said the community is to be commended for working hard to raise needed funds for the project in such a brief period of time.

"It's a very exciting time for the community," Hess said. "We are very excited for them to open the season with new bleachers."

Contact writer Charlotte Ferrell Smith at charlotte@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1246.

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Fans near, far have options to view WVU game http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140829/DM01/140829222 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140829/DM01/140829222 Fri, 29 Aug 2014 00:01:00 -0400 By Whitney Burdette Some West Virginia University fans may be traveling more than 600 miles for Saturday's season opener against Alabama, but they'll find a home away from home when they get there.

Laseter's Tavern, located at 4355 Cobb Parkway in Atlanta, is home to the WVU Peach State Alumni Chapter and will host a game viewing party Saturday, when the Mountaineers will take on the Crimson Tide at 3:30 p.m. at the Georgia Dome. General manager Rich Boden said it's fun for the restaurant to get involved in game day festivities, especially because Laseter's is part of the WVU extended family.

"We've been hosting the alumni group for about 15 or 20 years so I'm definitely a big fan," said Boden, originally from Pittsburgh. "It's the Chick-fil-A kickoff classic, there's one every year and a bowl game also. We're kind of used to it. Laseter's Tavern is more of a local institution so we don't get a lot of out of town guests. It's fun to be a part of it. I'm glad West Virginia is playing in the game because we're a part of that now."

Boden said Laseter's is similar to taverns found in Pittsburgh and Morgantown. The menu features chicken dishes, burgers, salads, sandwiches and wraps, as well as dinners such as steak and pasta.

Then there's the beer. The list is extensive, featuring dozens of craft beer selections, imports and draught.

"We run beer and liquor specials every day," Boden said.

Laseter's hosted a pregame party Thursday for about 250 fans. Boden said that puts the restaurant pretty close to capacity, but he anticipated another 100 or 150 fans will turn out Saturday.

"Of course after the game, since a lot of people are staying at the Waverly Hotel about a mile north of Laseter's, they have about 200 rooms so we're expecting them to come down to Laseter's also," he said.

Although West Virginia faces a disadvantage on the field Saturday, Boden is confident the team will do well against the multi-time national champions.

"Alabama is a pretty big favorite. It's gonna be a tough game for West Virginia, very tough," Boden said. "They have to play the game. Alabama has a new quarterback. I think if West Virginia can rattle him a little and stop the runs, they may have a good shot at an upset."

For fans sticking a little closer to home, a watch party at Buffalo Wild Wings in Nitro will raise money for a good cause.

Sponsored by the Sugar Bowl Foundation, a nonprofit aimed at raising money for various charities in the Kanawha Valley, the party will feature former WVU star Major Harris and Bo Orlando and a silent auction to raise money for the Childhood Language Center.

"We've been doing these for about four or five years with the nonprofit I started a few years back, the Sugar Bowl Foundation," said Anthony Lewis, the nonprofit's founder. "I'll pick out different charities and invite former players. We just rally around the game. It's free to attend, but we have a silent auction and a raffle and if people want to make a donation and buy pictures of the players for autographs and things, they can."

The party will begin at 2:30 p.m., so Lewis encourages fans to come early. The restaurant will still be open to the public.

"Even if there is nothing going on at Buffalo Wild Wings, it's packed for a WVU game," Lewis said. "You have people who are coming as sponsors who have a reserved table, then people who maybe didn't sponsor but want to come to the event. They kind of roll the dice and come early to try to get seats. Then you have people coming out anyway, so it kind of creates a bit of a zoo. It's packed and hard to get in if you don't get there early or reserve a table.

"Being that it's the first game of the season and they're playing Alabama in the middle of the day I'm expecting a huge turnout," he added.

The Childhood Language Center works with children on the autism spectrum and provides a variety of free speech and language therapy to children in the Charleston area. Lewis said he selected the charity to benefit from Saturday's event for personal reasons.

"My sister is a autism specialist and educator," Lewis said. "I have a cousin who has autism and I have a lot of friends with children with autism and Asperger's. I always wanted to do something, but nothing ever presented itself."

That changed when Lewis, a photographer for WSAZ, covered a story about the center. He connected with staff and told them he'd work to bring some awareness to the facility through his foundation.

"They gave me a tour of the facility and it's great, the services they offer are great, the fact they're free is spectacular," Lewis said. "I guess I got a little bit of a soft spot in my heart for kids and families that have to battle through Autism and yet we have a place in Charleston doing a lot of great work."

The game airs on ABC at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Contact writer Whitney Burdette at 304-348-7939 or whitney.burdette@dailymailwv.com. Follow her at www.Twitter.com/wburdette_DM.

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WVU FOOTBALL: Offense's tempo could help Mountaineers succeed against Alabama http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140828/DM03/140829177 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140828/DM03/140829177 Thu, 28 Aug 2014 22:17:50 -0400 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - There is folly involved with suggesting Alabama's defense has a weakness. This, after all, is the same football program that led the nation in scoring defense and total defense in 2011 and 2012 before slipping all the way down to Nos. 4 and 5 last season.

Still, there is this notion offenses can play fast and beat Alabama - never mind no one has seen fewer snaps per game the past three seasons. Yet the few teams that have had different degrees of success against the Crimson Tide defense tried to expedite their attack, and that's something the once-rapid West Virginia offense will consider in Saturday's Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome against No. 2 Alabama.

"You've got to be calculated with the way you take chances, but you've got to take chances, no doubt," WVU offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "You've got to threaten their defense, but you can't be dumb about it."

That, specifically, is something WVU will mull over before the 3:30 p.m. kickoff on ABC. Can the offense do it? Is it smart to try it?

"They take away a lot of things people try to do just to create momentum, the 4- and 5-yard gains to get you going," Dawson said. "You've got to figure out some ways to get the leverage back in your favor."

In that past, WVU coach Dana Holgorsen's offenses here and at Houston and Oklahoma State have done that by playing quickly and stringing together positive plays against a reeling defense. His counterpart, Nick Saban, has been one of the advocates for rules that would slow down offenses, and that's fed into the theory his defenses can't handle pace.

In reality, Alabama's defense allowed the fewest snaps per game in 2011 (59.4, the last time a team averaged less than 60) and was No. 2 in 2012 and No. 3 in 2013.

But Texas A&M had 628 yards and scored 42 points on 71 plays against Alabama last season. Saban has never allowed as many yards. None of his Alabama teams had allowed as many points, but that only lasted until Oklahoma rang up 48 points on 74 snaps in a Sugar Bowl win clinched by a defensive touchdown.

"People are making it a big deal about it against Alabama, but nobody is making a big deal about Ole Miss going fast against Alabama where they shut them out (26-0) or some of the other games that they played - Kentucky played fast against them and Alabama shut them (down, 48-7)," Holgorsen said. "They have played teams that have played up tempo, and nobody ever talks about it because they shut them out."

Ole Miss was No. 21 in snaps per game last season (79.8), but managed just 57 and 205 yards against the Crimson Tide. Kentucky intended to play fast last season, but finished No. 113 (66.8). The Wildcats had 52 snaps for 170 yards against Alabama, though they averaged 69 snaps per game after that loss. Colorado State was No. 37 (76.7), but had 64 for 279 yards in a 31-6 loss.

The Mountaineers aren't trying to mimic how teams lose, though. Generally, their offense has been the most effective when it hurries between the whistles that end one play and start the next to stack plays and gains atop a defense. The same is mostly true of offenses that have beaten Alabama.

In Saban's nine losses since the start of the 2008 season, the winning team had 65.4 snaps on offense. Five of the nine were over 65 and one had 64.

"Obviously, there are outliers on both sides - some are probably high and some are low - but somewhere in the middle, maybe 65 or 70, is good, which is a tribute to them and their offense and defense, because that all plays a part in how many snaps you get," Dawson said. "We want to get as many snaps as we possibly can, but if we get 80 snaps, I think that would probably be beneficial for us."

It's ambitious, but this isn't a matter of whether the Mountaineers should play fast against Alabama. They will. It's not even a matter of if they can play fast. They believe they're better at it now than they were last year.

WVU averaged 76.9 snaps per game last season, which was one snap better than the average from 2011, when Geno Smith was in his first season as quarterback and the offense had problems similar to what Clint Trickett and his offense had last season. In Smith's second season, with a number of offensive linemen and skill players back with him, the offense averaged 79.2 snaps.

"It's something that is in our plan," Holgorsen said. "I don't care about who our opponent is. It's going to be in our plan to be able to do that, and hopefully within the last year we found a way to do that better than we did last year."

What WVU has to determine is when it will play fast, what it will do and how long it lasts. Will the offense line up quickly and promptly snap the ball? Will it line up and then step back to survey the defense and look for an idea? Will it vary tempos and tactics? What's the smartest way to mount the attack?

"The only thing worse than punting is punting quickly," Holgorsen said. "If we're not good at it, we probably shouldn't do it. Last year, there were a lot of games we went into when I had reservations about how fast I wanted to punt. I think we're in a better place at this point."

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.

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MOUNTAINEER GAMEDAY: Dillon ready to bruise, batter Alabama http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140828/DM03/140829178 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140828/DM03/140829178 Thu, 28 Aug 2014 22:17:42 -0400 ATLANTA - Maybe it is the time that has taken its toll on West Virginia. After all, this season-opening game against Alabama was first reported on in May 2012. That's a lot of hours in the film room, a lot of SportsCenters, a lot of reminders that the Crimson Tide plays a signature style of football that is as pitiless as it is prosperous.

What the Mountaineers expect in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game inside the Georgia Dome Saturday (3:30 p.m., ABC) is a fattening diet of flattening runs from T.J. Yeldon, Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake, though in no particular order. And just when WVU's defense steps forward to cheat just a little bit and get the jump on a run, it knows Alabama will pull the ball out of the belly of the running back and throw a play-action pass.

There aren't many secrets when the Crimson Tide's offense is involved, but there are no reservations as far as the Mountaineers are concerned.

"I'd much rather prepare for a team knowing how they're going to line up and what they're going to do," WVU defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said. "They're going to line up in certain things and they don't try to hide anything. They don't motion a lot. They don't shift out into an empty set and try to do different things. They are what they are and they know what they are."

Maybe the Mountaineers are guilty of learning to love the devil they know, but they seem at peace with the pounding they know Alabama plans to inflict. This is not to say they're without worries. Not when the game involves the No. 2-ranked team in the country and especially not in the first game of the season.

"Right now, my biggest fear is tackling those kinds of backs 40 or 50 times," Gibson said. "I think that's what they're going to do, and the first game, what you always worry about is the tackling. That right there is a little concerning."

But just a little. Not a lot.

"This is how I see it," said WVU's K.J. Dillon. "If I've done 50 snaps, he's done 50 snaps. If I hit him 50 times, he's taken 50 hits. Both our bodies are going to wear down. Then it's a matter of who gives up first. I know for a fact I'm not going to give up."

Dillon, the junior from Apopka, Fla., will handle many tasks for the Mountaineers. The spur is part linebacker, part cornerback and part safety. He will blitz, play the run and defend the pass. As the 2014 season opens with his team expected to lose by nearly four touchdowns, Dillon must be one thing above all else for the Mountaineers.

"Huge," Gibson said. "He's the key to our defense. A kid like him in that position is the key to making us go. He's the guy who has to be effective at what he's doing in that position to make us go as a defense."

It is a chess piece for the defense and it is a necessity against an offense like Alabama's, one that doesn't need to be exotic to succeed, but one that can be more versatile than the reputation suggests.

The quarterbacks Dillon will blitz are different. Blake Sims, who the Mountaineers expect to be the starter, is 6-0 and 210 pounds and was a running back in 2011. WVU wouldn't be surprised if he has some running plays Alabama hasn't showed in the past. Jacob Coker is 6-5 and 230 pounds, and though he's more of a passer, he can move too.

Yeldon (6-fooot-2, 220 pounds) and Henry (6-3, 240) are bigger backs and Drake (6-1, 200) is more of a speedster, but Yeldon and Drake are expected to be receivers more in new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin's offense. In addition to angling inside or outside to stop the run, Dillon can expect to deal with them coming out of the backfield or maybe even lined up as a receiver.

One tight end is 6-7, 260-pound Brian Vogler, who has just 11 receptions in 35 games. The other is 6-6, 240-pound O.J. Howard, who plays and runs like a receiver and has collected preseason all-SEC and All-America accolades. One or both could be attached to the line of scrimmage or positioned as slot receivers or possibly even as wide receivers.

Dillon could be responsible for either scenario, and that's a tricky proposition when you consider the slot receiver he figures to encounter most is 5-11, 185-pound Christion Jones.

"A little bit of everything, but my freshman year I had to guard a guy named Tavon Austin, if you've ever heard of him," the 6-1, 210-pound Dillon said. "He gave me a lot of good work. Anybody I see now, I think I can step up to that challenge."

This will be a challenge, if only for the way WVU's defensive style, which is used to Big 12 track meets, matches up with Alabama's offensive style, which prefers the straight ahead more than the spread.

"Is this the ideal game for a 210-pound outside linebacker type of kid?" Gibson said. "We'll see."

It might be. It might not be. But this is the way it has to be for the Mountaineers. They have primed Dillon for this role and for this occasion. He's been reminded of the way Terence Garvin played the position, and he remembers being Garvin's teammate in 2012. He's been given film of other spurs WVU has used with great results in the past and encouraged to watch and learn.

"He's always a dog and he always gets the job done," Dillon said. "I guess that's what I have to do in order to keep the tradition rolling."

In one way, being a bit undersized at the position works in his favor. He may lack the weight to overpower a pulling lineman or the muscle to stay inside a tight end looking for space, but knowing he's at that disadvantage is actually his advantage.

"For me, the most important thing about your weight is the way you bring it," Dillon said. "As long as you bring all you got, you'll get them down, and you get them down my any means."

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MOUNTAINEER GAMEDAY: Know your enemy, Alabama edition http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140828/DM03/140829179 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140828/DM03/140829179 Thu, 28 Aug 2014 22:16:11 -0400 By Zack Harold CHARLESTON, W.Va. - In his legendary tome "Art of War," ancient Chinese military general Sun Tzu said a successful army must know its enemies.

Here at the Gazette-Mail, we think the same strategy applies to football.

Over the course of this year's West Virginia University football season, we'll take a look at the unique traditions of the Mountaineers' opponents.

This week WVU will take on the University of Alabama at Atlanta's Georgia Dome for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.

Here are some things you should know The Crimson Tide:

The tide and the elephant

It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, does it? Why would a team known as the Crimson Tide have an elephant for a mascot?

Sports editor Hugh Roberts of the Birmingham Age-Herald gets the credit for naming the team "The Crimson Tide." He first used the term in 1907, in a story about a game between Alabama and rival Auburn.

The field was wet that day, and the red mud turned Alabama's white jerseys into crimson.

The elephant did not appear until 1930 when another sportswriter, Everett Strupper of the Atlanta Journal, witnessed a game between Alabama and Ole Miss.

Alabama coach Wallace Wade started that game with his second-string players. Then, at the end of the first quarter, he brought out the varsity team.

"The earth started to tremble, there was a distant rumble that continued to grow. Some excited fan in the stands bellowed, 'Hold your horses, the elephants are coming,'" Strupper wrote.

Soon other journalists began referring to Alabama as "the red elephants," and the school gained yet another nickname.

"Roll Tide"

Although "Roll Tide" is primarily a cheer, it has become a catch-all phrase for Alabama faithfuls.

They use the phrase to greet one another on game day, or anytime one Alabama fan spots someone else wearing Alabama gear.

Fans also chant "Roll Tide Roll" during "Sweet Home Alabama," a favorite stadium song.

A shortened version of the slogan, "RTR," is often seen on bumper stickers. It also shows up a lot on Facebook and Twitter, too.

The Bear

Former coach Paul William "Bear" Bryant is the patron saint of Alabama football.

He coached the team from 1958 until his retirement in 1982, gaining 323 wins and six national championships for the team. Bryan became a beloved figure among fans, many of whom wear houndstooth hats and scarves in his memory.

Some have even named their children after the famous coach.

Since 1996, the Paul W. Bryant Museum has held a reunion before the first home game for all the Pauls, Williams, Bears and Bryants named in Bryant's honor.

Dreamland BBQ Nachos

Alabama fans love Dreamland BBQ Nachos almost as much as Bear Bryant.

Martinsburg, W.Va. native and Alabama graduate Hannah Wilkes said the nachos are the snack of choice at Bryant Denny Stadium.

"Honestly, I don't even know what other food they sell in the stadium. I guess burgers and dogs? Everyone just gets the nachos," she said.

The Dreamland nachos are only available at the stadium, although other Tuscaloosa, Ala. restaurants serve similar nachos.

It's pretty easily replicated at home, too, if you're looking for a special game day treat.

You start with corn tortilla chips, preferably the round kind. Top those with pulled pork, cheddar cheese sauce, barbecue sauce and pickled jalapeno slices.

Any kind of pulled pork and barbecue sauce will work, but for a more authentic experience you can order the ingredients directly from Dreamland BBQ.

Check out www.dreamlandbbq.com for more information.

Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-4830 or zack.harold@dailymailwv.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ZackHarold.

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MOUNTAINEER GAMEDAY: Spain's starts, five-stars and the underdogs http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140828/DM03/140829180 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140828/DM03/140829180 Thu, 28 Aug 2014 22:15:22 -0400 CHARLESTON, W.Va. - 1 - That's the number of five-star recruits West Virginia has landed on National Signing Day the past five seasons, according to Scout.com's database. In the same span, Alabama has signed 21 five-star recruits, which is nearly twice as many four-star recruits the Mountaineers have landed. As far as top 100 recruits in the past five years, Alabama holds a 40-1 edge over WVU.

2 ­­- Alabama's national ranking in the Associated Press top 25 poll. The Mountaineers have never defeated a team ranked in the top two of the national poll. Overall, WVU is 0-17 against top two competition (0-10 versus No. 1 teams, 0-7 against teams ranked second).

3 - The highest-ranked opponent West Virginia has ever defeated was third-ranked Virginia Tech. The unranked Mountaineers defeated the Hokies 28-7 in front of a mid-week nationally televised audience. That game was in the Mountain State, though. It wasn't until 2008, when WVU defeated Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, that the Mountaineers scored an out-of-state win against a team ranked as high as No. 3.

4 - Before Saturday's Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, the highest-ranked opponent WVU ever faced in August was No. 4 Nebraska in 1994. That, too, was a neutral-site game ... and it had a bad ending. The Huskers crushed No. 24 West Virginia 31-0 in East Rutherford, N.J.

10 - Consecutive season openers won by West Virginia. The Mountaineers haven't dropped the regular season's first game since 2003, when WVU traveled to Wisconsin and lost 34-17. Those Mountaineers, coached by Rich Rodriguez, had a rough 1-4 start, but reeled off seven consecutive wins to close the season and win the Big East championship.

19.3 - The average margin of victory for No. 2 ranked teams against West Virginia in program history. The Mountaineers do have two close calls, though. In 2003, the game in which running back Quincy Wilson had "The Run," unranked West Virginia lost 22-20 at Miami. In 1982, 14th-ranked WVU nearly knocked off rival Pitt, 16-13, in Pittsburgh.

21 - The number of wins for Nick Saban and Dana Holgorsen in the first three years of their coaching career. Saban won nine games at Toledo and 12 in his first two seasons with Michigan State, while Holgorsen has won 10, seven and four games in his first three seasons at West Virginia. But while Saban hasn't had a losing season in 17 years as a collegiate head coach, Holgorsen has one.

26.5 - Alabama is favored by nearly four touchdowns. WVU has only been the underdog by as many as 26 1/2 points three other times - all losses. The Mountaineers have never won when the underdog by three or more touchdowns (0-8 all-time). WVU won as 19.5-point home underdogs against Oklahoma State last season.

29 - The number of players on West Virginia depth chart with starting experience, ranging from offensive lineman Quinton Spain's 26 career starts to the one career start for running back Wendell Smallwood, linebacker Wes Tonkery and defensive back Jeremy Tyler. Bandit safety Karl Joseph leads all defenders with 25 collegiate starts.

30 - If the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game meets its average attendance of 70,205, it'll be the 30th time West Virginia has played in front of a crowd of at least 70,000. In 29 previous games in front of as many fans, the Mountaineers are 6-23 all-time. A crowd of 74,458 watched WVU defeated Georgia in the Georgia Dome in the 2005 Sugar Bowl.

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