Second-half effort helps WVU pull away from state rival

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) -- It took nearly a century for West Virginia to return to Marshall and the Mountaineers' high-powered offense showed up late.

No matter, Pat White and Steve Slaton only needed one good half to run away from Marshall.

White, Slaton and newcomer Noel Devine kicked it into gear after intermission, leading West Virginia to six second-half touchdowns in a 48-23 victory over Marshall on Saturday.

Held to three first downs and 118 total yards in the opening half, heavy favorite West Virginia (2-0) scored on its first three possessions of the third quarter and handed Marshall its worst home loss since Joan C. Edwards Stadium opened in 1991.

"It was a matter of time before everything took its toll," Slaton said. "We kept working."

The schools renewed the Friends of Coal Bowl last year after a lengthy layoff. Gov. Joe Manchin stepped in to help workout a seven-year deal.

The Mountaineers last game in Huntington was 1915 and they won 92-6. They got a little more than halfway to 90 on Saturday, which was still impressive considering they had six in the first 30 minutes.

White threw for two touchdowns and ran for 125 yards and another score, Slaton ran for almost all of his 146 yards in the second half and scored twice and the freshman Devine also scored two TDs. West Virginia ran for 362 yards and improved to 7-0 against Marshall.

Marshall led 16-13 midway through the third quarter and it looked like another top-five team was in danger of getting beat, following Michigan's loss to Appalachian State a week ago.

"There was concern, but you don't panic," West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez said. "You have to find out what you are doing wrong and what you can do better. Sometimes yelling will help if you don't think they are focused or playing hard. But I didn't think our players weren't playing hard. They were. We just needed to be better in some facets."

Slaton, limited to two first-half yards, erupted after West Virginia went to a smashmouth-style running game. Behind the blocking of fullback Owen Schmitt, Slaton finally found the open field and scored on 1- and 18-yards runs.

"They adjusted in the second half," Marshall coach Mark Snyder said. "They went to power football instead of finesse football."

Marshall (0-2) still can't get accustomed to playing a full game in hot weather.

The Thundering Herd was listless in a 31-3 loss a week ago at Miami, Fla. And with temperatures in the 90s Saturday, despite an 11 a.m. ET kickoff, Marshall melted down the stretch.

Its defense was on the field nearly the entire third quarter. Four of West Virginia's second-half TD drives went nine plays or longer.

"The first team that blinked was going to lose -- and we blinked," Snyder said.

Darius Reynaud caught three passes on West Virginia's opening drive of the second half, taking a quick pass from White, breaking two tackles and scoring on a 23-yard play that tied the score at 13. Reynaud finished with a career-high eight catches for 126 yards.

Slaton got going with 32 yards on West Virginia's next series to set up White's 20-yard scoring run that put the Mountaineers ahead to stay, 20-16.

West Virginia's Ryan Mundy then recovered a fumble at midfield and White made Marshall pay with a 24-yard pass and a 10-yard run to set up Slaton's 1-yard TD.

Marshall managed one final burst. Cody Slate got behind safety Eric Wicks and scored on a 42-yard TD pass from Morris to cut Marshall's deficit to 27-23 late in the third. It was Marshall's only touchdown of the second half.

White took the Mountaineers 80 yards for another score early in the fourth, capped by Devine's 12-yard TD run with 10:28 left that put WVU ahead by double digits for good. Devine tacked on a 10-yard TD run late in the game.

"We kind of got too big-headed," Marshall linebacker Josh Johnson said. "We were on top of the No. 3 team in the country and we probably thought we had a victory before the victory came."

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