WVU vs. Marshall Game Recap - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU vs. Marshall Game Recap

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MORGANTOWN -

In one of the oddest college football games in recent years, the matchup between No. 24 West Virginia and Marshall was called due to inclement weather with 14:36 remaining in the fourth quarter with West Virginia leading 34-13.

Following three attempts to resume play after lightning had struck multiple times near Milan Puskar Stadium, team officials mutually decided to call the game at 10:24 p.m.

Athletic Directors Oliver Luck and Mike Hamrick released a statement concerning the canceling of the game.

"After consultation with the office of the commissioner of the Big East Conference and the office of the commissioner of Conference USA, as well as the medical staff of Marshall University and West Virginia University, and based on the pending weather forecast as well as the physical and mental fatigue of the student athletes, it has been decided that the football game between Marshall University and West Virginia University has been stopped in the fourth quarter, resulting in the final score of West Virginia 34, Marshall 13."

It was unlike any situation WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen had ever experienced.

"I'm proud of the kids as far as how they handled the situation," Holgorsen said. "It was important for us to be excited to play and they had a lot of energy, probably too much early on."

In his debut, Holgorsen's offense started slowly, but quarterback Geno Smith was still able to post impressive numbers. Smith finished 26-35 for 249 yards and two touchdowns. He felt there were positives and negatives to be taken from the victory.

"At times I didn't like our tempo," Smith said. "The thing I liked the most was that we were all on the same page and that we knew what to do. That's something that builds progress and helps us get better as an offense."

Nine different players caught a pass from Smith on Sunday. The large amount of options for Smith allowed the Mountaineers' offense to be successful—particularly on third down, converting on 7-of-14 attempts.

Marshall struck first with an 87-yard punt return by Andrew Booker at the 10:18 mark of the first quarter. This came immediately after a three-and-out by West Virginia on its first offensive possession.

"I give Marshall a lot of credit with what they were doing defensively," Holgorsen said. "They put a lot of pressure on us."

Following the first drive, the Mountaineers showed some promise for the highly anticipated West Virginia offense, led by Holgorsen.

The second drive contained 10 plays and ended with a touchdown pass from quarterback Geno Smith to sophomore wide receiver Ivan McCartney. The touchdown was McCartney's first of his collegiate career.

After a Marshall punt, Smith led another long, sustained drive that ended in West Virginia's second touchdown, when receiver Stedman Bailey caught a 15-yard pass from Smith. Kicker Tyler Bitancurt added a 43-yard field goal to give the home team a 20-10 advantage at halftime.

The second half started off slowly for Smith and the West Virginia offense. After a punt and turnover on downs, Marshall freshman quarterback Rakeem Cato, who performed well all game, anchored a 12-play drive. Thundering Herd kicker Tyler Warner hit a 21-yard field goal to bring the score to 20-13.

The ensuing kickoff brought the home crowd to its feet, courtesy of inside receiver Tavon Austin. Austin jetted 100-yards, and gave the Mountaineers some breathing room.

Seconds after Austin gave West Virginia a 27-13 lead, the game was delayed due to lightning at the 4:59 mark of the third quarter. Storms similar to the ones notable for delaying some Saturday college football games, made their way into Morgantown around 5:45 p.m.

The game did not resume play until 8:49 p.m. It appeared the game would resume at 7:55 p.m., however, lightning struck again, which sent the players back to their respective locker rooms.

Then, another lightning strike with 14:36 remaining in the fourth quarter delayed the game once again, this time for good.

"I understood the situation," Holgorsen said. "It would have been hard for those kids to go back out there after eight hours, so I think common sense takes place at some point."

Marshall head coach Doc Holliday thought the weather delay was one-of-a-kind.

"I've never seen anything like tonight—unfortunately, that's the way it happened," Holliday said. "It was the decision of the conferences and athletics directors, so I had no choice."

West Virginia came out strong during the brief action following the weather delay. Running back Vernard Roberts tallied a 1-yard touchdown run, extending the WVU lead to 34-13.

Freshman running back Andrew Buie got the nod as the starting tailback and had almost all of the carries at that position. With 15 carries at halftime, Buie helped lead a balanced offensive attack. But, it was announced during the weather delay that Buie had suffered a bruised upper extremity and would not return to the game.

WVU defensive end Bruce Irvin recorded his first sack of the season late in the third quarter, just seconds after the game resumed play. The defense performed well all game for the Mountaineers.

"It was a very solid defensive performance," Holgorsen said. "I'm proud of Jeff (Casteel) and those guys, and we had some guys who stepped up and played well."

But, the offense still needs time to develop.

"It's a work in progress," Holgorsen said. "I don't think our offense was terrible, but we are going to watch the tape and try to get better."

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