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Follow along: Mountaineers strive to hand Hokies first loss

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia (1-1) and No. 15 Virginia Tech (2-0) meet for just the second time since 2005 at noon on Fox Sports 1. A sellout crowd will be on hand at Milan Puskar Stadium.

11:48 a.m. — Hokies’ running back Keshawn King is unavailable today with a non-COVID-19 related illness. He has 10 carries for 17 yards this season.

11:20 a.m. — Mike O’Laughlin, West Virginia’s top tight end, is dressed for the first time this season. Defensive back Charles Woods is not dressed.

11 a.m. — Representatives from the Orange Bowl and Cheez-It Bowl are on hand.

10:50 a.m. — This is the first time the Hokies have played at Milan Puskar Stadium since 2005. V-Tech is 9-16 all-time in Morgantown. West Virginia has won 18 straight non-conference games at home. The Mountaineers last loss came September 2011 when eventual national runner-up LSU defeated WVU, 47-21. Although the Hokies enter this matchup unbeaten and ranked No. 15, West Virginia has been anywhere from a 1.5 to 3-point favorite throughout the week.

Tailgating prior to West Virginia’s matchup with No. 15 Virginia Tech. Photo by Greg Carey/WVMetroNews.com

10:35 a.m. — Temperatures are in the high 70s throughout the late morning and it’s expected to be 80 degrees at kickoff in less than 90 minutes.

The Mountaineers have arrived at Milan Puskar Stadium. Kickoff for WVU-Virginia Tech is set for 12:03pm. pic.twitter.com/G7v2t7XruB

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) September 18, 2021

This one runs deep pic.twitter.com/G7Gd9pFn3J

— Virginia Tech Football (@HokiesFB) September 18, 2021

A rivalry renewed.#BeatVT pic.twitter.com/f3E2I69vj1

— WVU Football (@WVUfootball) September 17, 2021

9:45 a.m. — The Mountaineers have lost three straight in the series dating back to their last win against the Hokies in 2003. V-Tech has won 10 of 13 against WVU, which still holds a 28-23-1 advantage in the all-time series.

Your essential pregame links:

Setting the scene from Morgantown for the Hokies and Mountaineers

West Virginia out to regain possession of Black Diamond Trophy for first time since 2003

Wright’s prowess on kickoff returns will be put to the test

‘Three Guys Before the Game’ — Virginia Tech edition

Hokies’ speedy QB Burmeister one of several challenges Hokies’ ground game presents

Increasing physicality a must for Mountaineers against stingy V-Tech defense

Constructive criticism has helped WVU wideout Sean Ryan mature

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Setting the scene from Morgantown for VaTech-WVU

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Joe Brocato sets the scene from Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown as the Mountaineers prepare to host Virginia Tech at noon.

MetroNews Gameday coverage is on the air at wvmetronews.com.

Mountaineer mantrip montage

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West Virginia welcomes No. 15 Virginia Tech looking to regain possession of Black Diamond Trophy

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — For only the second time since 2005, the Black Diamond Trophy is up for grabs when No. 15 Virginia Tech faces West Virginia at noon Saturday.

The contest at Milan Puskar Stadium will be shown on Fox Sports 1, as the Mountaineers (1-1) hope to climb above the .500 mark for the first time this season.

It will be a tall task against the Hokies (2-0), who have made a strong early impression with a 17-10 win over then-No. 10 North Carolina and last week’s 35-14 victory over Middle Tennessee.

“We’re excited to be home. Going back to 2019 when we played Texas, this is the first time we’re going to be at home in an electric atmosphere,” West Virginia head coach Neal Brown said. “Our guys are really looking forward to it.”

The Mountaineers lead the all-time series 28-23-1 and have a 16-9 mark in games played in Morgantown.

But the teams haven’t met at this venue since 2005, which marked the second of a current three-game win steak for Virginia Tech in the series. The most recent meeting came in 2017, when the Hokies won 31-24 at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. That was the second season for Hokies’ head coach Justin Fuente, while this marks the first time Brown has opposed Virginia Tech.

“I haven’t taken part in this rivalry yet,” Brown said. “For our fan base, especially the fans that have been attending games here and been a fan for a while, this rivalry means something. Bordering states, but it was dormant for a while and Virginia Tech has won seven of the last ten and the last three. They’ve had the upper hand in recent years.”

WVU couldn’t overcome losing the turnover battle 4-0 in its 30-24 season-opening setback at Maryland

A primary focus for West Virginia in last week’s 66-0 victory over FCS member Long Island was to cut back on mistakes and display better fundamentals. For the most part, that was accomplished, albeit against an inferior opponent.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Garrett Greene saw the first extended action of his career against the Sharks, though senior Jarret Doege remains the starter.

Doege has completed 38-of-62 passes for 536 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions.

“You can just tell he has a really good understanding of what they’re trying to get accomplished,” Fuente said. “They have guys on the outside that can go make plays. They’re a good screen team. He gets the ball out of his hands and they’ve made plenty of plays in the passing game. It’s a dangerous, dynamic group that can put points on the board in a hurry.”

Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente won his only meeting against West Virginia back in 2017. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Greene, who provides a change of pace behind center, could see spot action as the season progresses. Against Long Island, he rushed 14 times for 98 yards and two touchdowns and completed 4-of-7 passes for 57 yards.

“With him, it’s going to be a mixture. You don’t want to contain his best ability, which is his ability to freelance and make plays on the run,” Brown said. “We’re working on finding a happy medium.”

The Mountaineers have stressed the need to play more physical in an effort to find success against a defense that ranks 18th in fewest points allowed.

That starts with improvement on the ground after featured tailback Leddie Brown was limited to 15 carries for 31 yards last week. While Brown has four rushing touchdowns and five total TDs, he has been limited to 104 rushing yards on 32 attempts through two games.

“You want to be physical, but it has to have purpose,” WVU offensive coordinator Gerad Parker said. “What I mean is there’s a lot of things that go into playing well and playing hard. That’s not only playing physical, but it’s playing with great pad level and trusting your footwork and fundamentals. Those are the things we have to do and we have to do it with purpose.

“We’re in a good place of owning that process. They know what this game is and they know we have to take steps each week to play winning football.”

Wideout Sean Ryan caught his first touchdown at West Virginia last week and leads the Mountaineers with 125 receiving yards. Ryan joins Sam James, Winston Wright Jr., Bryce Ford-Wheaton and Isaiah Esdale as primary threats at receiver.

James has eight receptions for 120 yards and a team-best two receiving scores.

Wright has nine grabs for 101 yards, but his biggest impact has come on special teams. He set a single-game program record with 217 kickoff return yards against the Terrapins, and the elusive junior returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a TD against the Sharks. Wright is averaging better than 51 yards on six returns.

Should he have the opportunity to return kicks Saturday, Wright will face a stern test against what’s annually one of the top kickoff coverage and special teams units in college football.

“A byproduct of tackling really good skill players is being in the right position and eliminating some of that space the best that you can,” Fuente said. “Then there’s some obvious technique involved in that. We’ve made improvement. It’s something we work on every single week, even during the season.”

A West Virginia defense coming off its first shutout in Brown’s tenure and its first in six seasons will look to slow a run-oriented Hokies’ offense.

Quarterback Braxton Burmeister is a dual threat and leads the team with 94 rushing yards. Tailbacks Jalen Holston and Raheem Blackshear have combined for 149 rushing yards and three touchdowns, while QB Connor Blumrick rushed for 38 yards and a touchdown on three carries against the Blue Raiders.

Five Hokies have at least 40 receiving yards, but one — tight end James Mitchell — suffered a season-ending knee injury last week.

“Anytime you lose a player of that caliber, I’d think it would hurt you, but they do have depth at that position,” Neal Brown said.

The Tech defense has 18 tackles for loss and nine sacks to go with four interceptions, half of which have been recorded by junior cornerback Jermaine Waller.

“Waller may be playing as good as any corner in the country right now,” Neal Brown said.

Defensive linemen Amare Barno (3.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks) and TyJuan Garbutt (2 sacks) have been standouts along a strong Hokies’ front.

The Mountaineers seek a seventh straight win at home dating back to the start of last season in their final non-conference game of the regular season.

“It’s a sellout crowd and we’re excited about it,” Neal Brown said. “It’s going to be a tremendous atmosphere.”

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Arrest made in Wheeling murder

WHEELING, W.Va. — A man’s been charged in the Friday afternoon in the death of a Wheeling woman.

Wheeling police arrested William Ross Carman, 35, of Wheeling, Friday night after he allegedly killed Anorah Charlene Schostag, 41, at a home in the Mozart community.

Police were called to the home at around 2 p.m. Friday. They discovered Schostag’s body and saw a man running out of the back of the house.

WPD announced that William Ross Carman, 35 of Wheeling has been arrested and is charged with one count of murder in Friday afternoon’s homicide. Additionally, police have released the victim’s name: Anorah Charlene Schostag, 41 of Wheeling.

— Wheeling, WV Police (@WheelingPolice) September 18, 2021

Carman was later arrested along Frazier Avenue. He was treated for injuries at Wheeling Hospital.

Carman is being held in the Northern Regional Jail without bail.

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Roundup: Martinsburg collects another quality win, points aplenty in Class AAA games

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Take a look around West Virginia as the fourth week of the high school football season continued Friday evening.

Class AAA:

MARTINSBURG 26, Highland Springs, Va. 25 — The Bulldogs collected another quality victory in the state of Virginia, defeating the 2021 (spring season) Class 5A state-runners up.

Martinsburg received a 54-yard touchdown run from Murphy Clement in the first quarter to even the score at 7-7. Murphy would later toss a 79-yard scoring strike to Hudson Clement in the second quarter. The Bulldogs rallied from a 19-17 halftime deficit, improving their record to 4-0. Martinsburg opened the season with an impressive win at Salem, Va. as well.

HUNTINGTON 30, George Washington 14 — Gavin Lochow tossed a pair of touchdown passes and ran for another score as the Highlanders upped their record to 4-0. Huntington jumped out to a 30-0 lead.

Noah Vellithambi had two touchdown passes for the Patriots as they suffered their first loss of the season.

CABELL MIDLAND 44, Hurricane 25 — Jackson Fetty accounted for 222 yards (170 rushing) as Cabell Midland (3-1) bounced back from last week’s loss to Huntington. Chandler Schmidt found the end zone three times and Mason Moran (111 yards) added two more scores.

Heath Montgomery had a kickoff return for a touchdown for the Redskins (1-3).

GREENBRIER EAST 56, Buckhannon-Upshur 14 — The Spartans got back in the win column by racking up 499 total yards in a win over the Bucs. Greenbrier East (3-1) held BU to just 82 yards of total offense.

Ian Cline rushed for 197 yards and a pair of touchdowns for East as they scored touchdowns on their first eight possessions of the game.

PARKERSBURG 28, Parkersburg South 19 — The Big Reds held their crosstown rivals to just six points in the first three quarters as they leveled their record at 2-2 on the season. Austin Fleming scored on a 28-yard run and a 43-yard kickoff return for PHS. Bryson Singer rushed for 61 yards and a touchdown. David Parsons tossed a 33-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Stalnaker.

The Patriots (2-2) were led by Robert Shockey’s three touchdown effort (two passing, one rushing). Cyrus Traugh reeled in both of Shockey’s touchdown tosses. Shockey rushed for 128 yards and passed for 182.

MORGANTOWN 62, Hedgesville 20 – The Mohigans collected their first victory of the season by forcing six Eagle turnovers. Morgantown rushed for 430 yards and Jarrett Lawrence scored a pair of rushing touchdowns.

 

Class AA:

INDEPENDENCE 50, Shady Spring 17 — The Patriots (2-0) returned from a two-week hiatus. Atticus Goodson scored five touchdowns and rushed for 317 yards.

CLAY COUNTY 18, Sissonville 7 – The Panthers improved to 2-0 with a strong defensive performance at Sissonville. Levi Burnett rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown. Matteo McKinney also found the end zone.

SCOTT 48, Sherman 20 — Cooper Martin rushed for 150 yards as the Skyhawks improved to 3-1 and handed the Tide their first loss. Matt Frye also tossed a touchdown pass for Scott.

Colby Buzzard rushed for a score and T.J. Hager tossed a touchdown pass for Sherman.

 

Class A:

WILLIAMSTOWN 49, Buffalo 6 — The Yellowjackets (3-1) racked up over 500 yards of offense as they won their third consecutive game. Trevor Oates rushed for 129 yards and three touchdowns in the victory.

GREENBRIER WEST 58, Webster County 6 — GWHS head coach Toby Harris collected his 100th victory (87 at Greenbrier West, 13 at Oak Hill). The Cavaliers (3-1) set a program record by scoring 50 points in the first half.  Ty Nickell had three touchdown runs in the victory.

Connor Bell had a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown for the Highlanders.

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Ritchie County surges past St. Marys, 36-7

(Highlights by Teran Malone)

ELLENBORO, W.Va. — Highlights from Ritchie County’s 36-7 win over St. Marys at Chuck Schofield Memorial Stadium.

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Keyser controls line of scrimmage, rolls by Robert C. Byrd 35-13

KEYSER, W.Va. — Class AA No. 4 Keyser took it to top-rated Robert C. Byrd, and three rushing touchdowns of at least 50 yards, combined with two passing touchdowns from Seth Healy was enough Friday for the Golden Tornado to roll by the Eagles, 35-13.

“I didn’t know we were this tough,” Golden Tornado coach Derek Stephen said. “I didn’t know we were going to come out and play this hard-nosed. We hadn’t shown it yet. We didn’t show it the first game. We’ve had a couple weeks off, but this is the way we play at Keyser. That’s what’s expected, but I didn’t know it was there yet.”

The Flying Eagles played the first half without standout Jeremiah King, who has rushed for more than 5,000 yards in his storied high school career. King was dressed, but relegated to the sideline for the first two quarters after missing Thursday’s practice.

His absence helped Keyser (2-0) get out to an early 14-0 lead. After forcing a three-and-out on the game’s opening series, the Golden Tornado went 66 yards in eight plays and reached the end zone on their first passing play — an 18-yard toss from Healy to Seth Sions.

Seth Earnest made his first of five point-after kicks to give KHS a 7-0 lead at the 7:34 mark of the opening quarter.

A second RCB (2-1) three-and-out gave the ball back to Keyser quickly, and the Golden Tornado got a 50-yard touchdown run from Hunter VanPelt on the eighth play of their series to take a 14-0 advantage with 3:12 left in the quarter.

“[King’s absence] shouldn’t have that impact,” RCB coach Josh Gorrell said. “We got physically whooped up front. Those give guys that we rely on up front didn’t do a thing. They got physically punished all night long.”

Caden Youngblood’s recovery of a Nick George fumble late in the opening period took away a potential scoring opportunity for the Eagles after they gained 54 yards on their third series.

But after forcing a pair of punts, RCB cut its deficit in half when George connected with Nathaniel Junkins on an 11-yard touchdown pass 4:23 before halftime.

The Eagles got the ball back with 2:41 left in the half, but were unable to pick up a first down and allowed Keyser to start at midfield with 1:37 remaining.

Healy’s 47-yard pass to VanPelt on a play where he rolled left and threw back across the field to a streaking target put KHS at the RCB 6-yard line.

“We had been doing some things to try to set that play up earlier in the half and we saw an opening,” Stephen said. “I give credit to my wing back. He came over and said, ‘Hey I think this play is open.’ So we set it up, looked and said, ‘It’s there, let’s call it.’ That’s a credit to my players knowing this offense and being able to tell us adjustments that we can do with it.”

Two plays later, Healy found Sam Bradfield for a 4-yard TD pass 25 seconds before halftime, allowing the Golden Tornado to take the two touchdown lead into halftime.

“Something was wrong mentally with us tonight,” Gorrell said.

RCB got a fourth down stop in the red zone on the opening possession of the second half, and George found King for a 47-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-13 to bring the Eagles back to within one score on the first play of the fourth quarter, though the PAT sailed wide.

With the Eagles appearing to have momentum, Keyser answered quickly in the form of Bradfield’s 67-yard touchdown run with 9:52 left.

“We laid down and tucked our tail. Let’s call it what it is,” Gorrell said. “We got whooped. You have to suck it up and play and you have to be physical.”

Benny Oates added a 52-yard TD run with 1:36 remaining to provide the final margin.

“Obviously we bought into the No. 1 thing, which surprises me, but OK — now we’re fighting for our playoff lives,” Gorrell said.

While King hauled in the pass to provide his team’s only second-half points, the senior was held to 23 rushing yards on seven carries over the final two quarters.

“We preached all week you have to tackle and get black hats to the football,” Stephen said. “That’s one of the things that kept him in check is we were rallying to the football. He didn’t get those big cutback gains like he’s had in the past games. We had to rally to the football and tackle and that was our mantra, especially on defense.”

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Photo gallery: Cabell Midland bounces back to defeat Hurricane, 44-25

ONA, W.Va. — Photo gallery from Cabell Midland’s 44-25 win over Hurricane.

(Photos courtesy of John Hagley Photography)

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Greenbrier County issues indoor mask mandate; governor does not

Greenbrier County’s health department has issued an indoor mask mandate, effective immediately.

The order comes as covid-19 cases and hospitalizations continue at record levels around the state. Gov. Jim Justice, who ordered a statewide mask mandate last year, for weeks now has said such decisions need to be made at the local level.

Drema Hill

“Greenbrier County health workers and facilities have become overwhelmed with the rise in covid cases in recent weeks and we feel it is our duty to respond,” stated Dr. Drema Hill, vice chairwoman of the Greenbrier County Board of Health.

Any individual in the county, regardless of vaccination status, is required to wear a mask or face covering over their mouth and nose while inside any building open to the public. There are exceptions for children under the age of 2, people who have trouble breathing for a documented medical reason and anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

The statement was issued in collaboration with Greenbrier County commissioners, who under state law have 30 days to review the mandate.

“The other members of the county commission and I take our responsibility of protecting the residents of Greenbrier County very seriously,” stated Greenbrier County Commission President Lowell Rose.

Greenbrier County Commissioner Tammy Tincher added, “We value the opinion and work of the Greenbrier County Board of Health, and look forward to working together as we review the mask mandate.”

The county’s action comes as state figures continue to skyrocket.

West Virginia reported 57 covid-related deaths over the past couple of days, now part of the total of 3,370 over the course of the pandemic.

Justice continued to urge West Virginians to get vaccinated, but again expressed fears that many aren’t listening.

“We’re going to run to the fire and get vaccinated right now or we’re going to pile the body bags up,” he said today.

Of West Virginia’s vaccine-eligible population, 60 percent are considered fully vaccinated. The most recent 7-day average for vaccinations was 1,429, about in line with a rate that has been flat for weeks.

Asked again today by WCHS-TV reporter Bob Aaron if the state should consider a universal mask mandate, who cited West Virginia’s highest number of covid cases per 100,000 over any other state in the country. Justice still said no.

“As far as how I feel right now, again it’s a balancing act to be able to keep us all moving in the right direction and keep us together. From the standpoint of the masks, the masks are not the answer; the answer is the vaccination. That’s the answer period. And there’s no point in going any further. That’s just all there is to it,” Justice said.

The governor did not address whether masks might be part of an answer — one tool among several that could slow down the current delta surge and reduce stress on medical facilities.

At the start of this month, the West Virginia Osteopathic Medical Association called on the governor to provide “clear leadership,” particularly a statewide mask mandate. The organization said face coverings are one way to suppress cases to try to avert an overload of hospitals, along with vaccinations and social distancing.

West Virginia today passed its previous pandemic record with 29,744 active cases of covid-19.

Daily hospitalizations from covid-19 were at 922, hitting a new high every day now. Of those, 82.4 percent are unvaccinated.

The state lists 277 covid patients who require the intensive care unit, another category where the state breaks its own record every day. Of those patients, 91 percent are unvaccinated.

And 169 patients are so sick they require a ventilator to breathe. The state breaks that record every day too. Of the total, 91.7 percent are unvaccinated.

“I’m going to continue to tell you to get vaccinated because I don’t know what else to do,” the governor said at today’s briefing.

Monoclonal antibody treatment

State leaders announced greater access for monoclonal antibody treatment. There are now 30 additional access points, including pharmacies and local health departments.

James Hoyer

“The antibodies are not a replacement for the vaccine, but they are a life-saving tool, particularly if we get to an individual at the appropriate time,” said James Hoyer, leader of West Virginia’s interagency task force.

The goal of the therapy is to help prevent hospitalizations, reduce viral loads and lessen symptom severity. The monoclonal antibodies are mass-produced in a laboratory and are designed to recognize the virus’s spike protein on its outer shell. The antibodies interfere with the virus’s ability to attach and gain entry to human cells. This buys the body time to mount its own fight against the virus.

Dr. Sherri Young

Kanawha County health officer Sherri Young and Kanawha County Commission President Sherri Young appeared at today’s state briefing to promote increased access to the monoclonal antibody treatment.

“While monoclonal antibodies do have their place it does not take away from the importance of getting that vaccine,” Young said.

Boosters

An advisory panel of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration voted to recommend Pfizer’s third dose for people 65 and over and for those with compromised immunity.

The panel, in a separate vote, did not recommend booster doses for ages 16 and over.

Justice has been talking for weeks about needing federal approval for third shots. Today’s statewide briefing came prior to the FDA panel’s vote, but the governor said West Virginia would be prepared to act.

“As soon as the FDA says go on the booster shots — and we’re watching it like crazy — and if they came out of that meeting with a decision on booster shots we’d be ready to go today,” Justice said at the statewide briefing.

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No. 4 WVU and No. 6 Marshall battle to 2-2 draw

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Mountain State men’s soccer derby produced four goals but no winner as No. 4 West Virginia and No. 6 Marshall played to a 2-2, double overtime draw at Hoops Family Field.

“This was a great advertisement for college soccer and for the state of West Virginia,” WVU head coach Dan Stratford said. “Those were two, top-five teams; it was a fair reflection of where we are, and it was a really interesting game.

“I’m just proud of the players. This was a new challenge in my tenure with the program. We’ve obviously had good results at home against ranked opponents, but this was the first time we’ve really had to go into someone else’s environment and see what we’re made of. I’m really pleased that 3,000 people here had a good time, and so did everyone else watching it.”

“We created a lot of chances in the second half and in the overtime especially,” Marshall head coach Chris Grassie said. “Even in the first half I think that we were just to open in transition. (WVU) did a really good job counterattacking and hitting the space. They scored and then we got one right back but it was kind of casual for us. The second half was fantastic. I thought it was great to see Collin (Mocyunas), Jan-Erik (Leinhos), Nate (Dossantos) on the back and then (Adam) Lubell and Gabriel (Alves) on the left did a great job in the second half and in the overtimes.

“We kept our composure and that is all we can really ask of the guys in those situations. We created the chances to win the game and we created them four times near the end of the game. We just have to finish one and in the future we will finish one. It will go in, like the final in Cary (National Championship match) we finished that one chance we had and tonight we didn’t. That is the small margin in tight games. And credit to Strats (WVU head coach Dan Stratford), they were very well organized and came with a game plan and stuck to it.”

West Virginia jumped on the scoreboard first in the 17th minute when Yoran Popovich scored off a feed from Luke McCormick. Marshall responded less than two minutes later when Pedro Dollabella scored his third goal of the season. Vitor Dias had the assist.

The Mountaineers (4-0-2) surged back in front just prior to halftime when Ciro Bourlot was set up by Pau Jimenez Albelda and Tony Pineda. WVU led 2-1 at halftime.

Marshall drew even for the second time in the 60th minute on an unassisted goal from Max Schneider. Fifty more minutes of play could not produce a go-ahead goal.

The Thundering Herd (3-2-1) outshot the Mountaineers 15-9. Steven Tekesky made four saves in the Mountaineer net while Oliver Semmle stopped three shots for the Herd.

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