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20210919_hds_mufootball

Head coach Charles C. Huff leads the Thunder Walk before Marshall University's home game against East Carolina on Saturday, September 18, 2021, in Huntington.

Chuck Landon Grades the Mountaineers … WVU 27, Va. Tech 21

OFFENSE: B+ – It played well except for the third quarter. WVU seemed to let the air out of the ball in the third period, gaining only 71 yards on 15 plays. It was 0-for-3 on third-down conversions, suffered two sacks and gained only 2.8 yards per rush. That allowed Virginia Tech to get back into the game.

DEFENSE: A – It played lights out while accumulating 13 tackles for loss, including six sacks. Jared Bartlett was particularly impressive from his Bandit position with three sacks.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A – Winston Wright didn’t have any big kickoff returns, but the kicking game was excellent. Place-kicker Casey Legg booted field goals from 21 and 44 yards. And punter Tyler Sumpter averaged 45.8 yards on four punts.

COACHING: B+ – The innovations on offense were excellent. Putting Jarret Doege under center on running plays was a great move. The same goes for utilizing backup QB Garrett Greene as a change of pace with his running ability. The only miscue was not keeping the pedal to the metal on offense.

0VERALL: A+ – A sellout crowd of 60,022 and a win over a ranked border rival. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Chuck Landon Grades the Herd … ECU 42, Marshall 38

OFFENSE: D – It did lots of good things, but not when it really mattered. Namely, the fourth quarter. Instead, it got out-scored, 21-0, due to an interception, a missed field goal and going 0-for-3 on third-down conversions.

DEFENSE: F – It yielded 21 points in the fourth quarter, 571 yards total offense, 6.4 yards per play, 9-for-19 on third-down conversions and 2-for-3 on fourth-down conversions. That’s a recipe for defeat, which is precisely what happened.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D – Place-kicker Andrew Sanders missed a 31-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter and that was huge. MU also allowed East Carolina to recover an onsides kick in the tumultuous fourth quarter.

COACHING: F – The staff grasped defeat from the jaws of victory. Blowing a 38-21 lead in the fourth quarter is simply unacceptable. That includes the indignity of Pirates’ wideout Tyler Snead throwing a 27-yard TD pass to quarterback Holton Ahlers in the fourth quarter.

OVERALL: F – Head coach Charles Huff’s honeymoon is over.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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