Taking Marshall out of the Herd
MORGANTOWN -- All season long Marshall has rallied behind its fans chanting "We Are. ... Marshall."
That's partly because all season long Marshall has truly been Marshall -- as in Darius Marshall.
As Darius Marshall has gone, so too has the Thundering Herd.
But in the second half of the Herd's 24-7 loss to West Virginia in Saturday's Friends of Coal Bowl, Darius Marshall virtually disappeared.
After gaining 68 yards in the first half, Darius Marshall rushed eight times for 14 yards in the second 30 minutes of play.
"Credit Coach Stew (West Virginia coach Bill Stewart) and his staff," Marshall coach Mark Snyder said. "They came out and played a good second half."
The Herd's inability to run the ball effectively in the second half not only forced Marshall to be dependent on the arm of Brian Anderson in dismal weather conditions, it also keyed a change in the field position.
Snyder said the change in field position in the third quarter was more than the Herd could overcome.
"The third quarter was all about field position. They dominated the field position," Snyder said. "We were punting to the 50 each time."
Without Darius Marshall running the ball to sustain drives, Marshall's first-half stranglehold on time of possession disappeared, along with its 7-3 halftime lead.
Darius Marshall went into the game second in the nation in all-purpose yards with 211 per game, but was held to 129 total -- 82 rushing, 47 on kickoff returns. He also caught three passes for zero total yards.
QUARTERBACKS DINGED: Marshall quarterback Brian Anderson was unavailable for post-game interviews after taking a shot late in the fourth quarter.
Marshall sports information director Randy Burnside said Anderson was fine and receiving treatment, but trainers advised against him taking part in the post-game festivities.
Anderson finished 17 of 35 for 149 yards and two interceptions.
His counterpart -- West Virginia quarterback Jarrett Brown -- was knocked from the contest on the first series after suffering a head injury.
Brown did not return to the game.
GETTING DEFENSIVE: In West Virginia's first five games the Mountaineers scored 106 first-half points, an average of 21 per half.
However, Marshall's defense limited the Mountaineers to three points in the first 30 minutes.
After Brown left the game the Mountaineers did not pick up another first down in the half.
The Mountaineers also had zero first downs in their final five drives of the opening half.
MOUNTAIN STATE PLAYERS: Marshall's roster consists of 15 West Virginia natives, including several key contributors on both sides of the ball.
Charleston natives James Burkes and DeMetrius Thompson are from Capital High School while wide receiver Aaron Dobson is from South Charleston High School.
West Virginia's roster features 31 Mountain State natives with notable starters Josh Jenkins (Parkersburg), Reed Williams (Moorefield) and Nate Sowers (Martinsburg).
RUNNING RAMPANT: Marshall's Darius Marshall and West Virginia's Noel Devine were ranked second and third respectively in NCAA rushing yards entering the day.
Darius Marshall was averaging 147.4 yards per contest -- less than one yard behind Fresno State's Ryan Mathews. Devine came in averaging 126.2 yards per game.
MUSTARD AND MAYO: As West Virginia took the field for pre-game warmups, the Mountaineers resembled a tasty sandwich.
West Virginia came out in mustard yellow jerseys, but wore white game pants to complement them.
It was the first time the Mountaineers had used the combination since 1969.
Grant Traylor is a sports writer for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at (304) 526-2759, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.