The 2010 edition of the Friends of Coal Bowl came with built in drama as former West Virginia assistant and recruiting guru, Doc Holliday, went head to head against his old pal Bill stewart in a game that will go down as a classic. When all was said and done, West Virginia left Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington with a 24-21 overtime victory over Marshall. The 23rd ranked Mountaineers were 13 point favorites heading into last night’s game but through most of the night did not look like the favorites.
Starting with the opening drive, Marshall showed explosiveness via a 55yd run by running back Martin Ward. A Few plays later the Thundering Herd scored the game’s first touchdown with a 8yd pass from Brian Anderson to Antavious Wilson. The Mountaineers answered (though not as loudly) by driving down the field for a 34yd field goal from Tyler Bitancurt. I don’t think anyone realized it at the time, but WVU quarterback Gino Smith gave fans a preview of the awesome poise he would show in the clutch.
Using the momentum they had gained in the 1st quarter, Marshall stopped WVU’s Ryan Clarke on 4th and 1 deep in their own territory. Two plays later, the Herd connected on the longest pass play of the night (and season) when Brian Anderson found Aaron Dobson for 96yds and a touchdown. Everything went Marshall’s way during the quarter as the Mountaineer offense was unable to muster any points. The primary reason the WVU offense struggled during the 2nd was because Marshall was able to get excellent pressure on Smith (the main to culprits being Vinny Curry and Mario Harvey).
Just when the Mountaineers luck seemed to be changing early in the third quarter, Noel Devine fumbles and Marshall recovers. Luckily for the Mountaineers, the defense stood up and held the Herd scoreless for the quarter. After his fumble, Devine redeemed himself with a couple big runs which help set up a 2nd Bitancurt field goal, this time from 33yds. Toward the very end of the quarter, WVU attempted it’s 3rd field goal of the game and that kick was blocked and recovered by the Herd.
Marshall began the 4th quater just the way they began the 2nd quarter, with a touchdown pass. Anderson once again found Wilson but this time from 12yds out and that extended the Thundering Herd’s lead to 21-6. It seemed as if Marshall was about to slam the door in WVU’s face when all of a sudden, Herd freshmen running back Tron Martinez fumbled with 8:28 left in the game.
It’s at this point in the game that Smith displayed that awesome poise I mentioned earlier. The sophomore quarterback lead the Mountaineers on a 96yd scoring drive that was capped off by a 4yd Devine touchdown run. Marshall, playing conservative as expected, went 3 and out on its following possesion and punted WVU deep in its own territory. No pressure for Smith however, he jogged out onto the field and lead the Mountaineers on a second 90 plus yard scoring drive (98 to be exact) and found Will Johnson in the corner of the endzone for a touchdown with :12 seconds remaining. To top off his incredible drive, Smith found Jock Sanders in the back of the endzone for a two point conversion.
Overtime was less dramatic as WVU ran the ball twice and Smith threw a safe curl route to Tavon Austin. Bitancurt came in and did his thing and hit a field goal. Marshall had the same opportunity but after an unsuccessful run and a 6yd recetpion by Dobson, the Herd brought out it’s field goal team. Marshall kicker Tyler Warner hooked it just right and that was the ball game, WVU 24-MU 21.
With that win WVU now improves to 2-0 on the season while Marshall falls to 0-2 on the year. Next up for the Mountaineers, the stingy Maryland Terapins (they stopped Navy in the red zone something like four times last Sunday). This prediction is a week early, but if the Mountaineers don’t shape up, next Saturday will be their first loss of the 2010 season. Until next time (Thursday to be exact), kick back and enjoy the rest of what’s already been an exciting weekend of college football.
About the Author
Written by Jason Lee
Born and raised in Charleston, West Virginia, I've been a sports fan probably since I was about 9 years old! A 2002 graduate of Mount Union College (Alliance, OH), I've had the opportunity to cover some great high school football on the radio in both Ohio (working with WHBC in Canton) and in West Virginia (I currently work with Bristol Broadcasting in Charleston). I also keep an on-line journal/blogs on my own website.