Football, Sports, WVU Sports

Anderson, Marchiol grab the spotlight in season finale

MORGANTOWN — For two years, WVU head coach Neal Brown has been raving about the potential of running back Jaylen Anderson and on Saturday, the redshirt-freshman firmly showed why.

In the Mountaineers’ season finale against Oklahoma State Saturday, Anderson twice took an outside handoff and hit a perfect cut-back lane to run for more than 50 yards to the endzone.

“We schemed all week,” Anderson said after the game. “Their interior’s very good so we knew it was going to be a battle, but I just found a little hole and ended up popping through it.”

Anderson entered the game with 120 rushing yards the season but left with 275 as he ran for 155 yards and the first two touchdowns of his career against Oklahoma State.

“Jaylen Anderson, who we really like, has come on and he’s got a bright future,” Brown said. “He’s got to continue to mature but I think he showed some real signs (Saturday). He’s got a patient running style, but he was able to break two big ones.”

Both of Anderson’s long touchdowns came in the third quarter after starting quarterback Garrett Greene had left the game with a head injury. His first went for 54 yards and gave WVU a 14-10 lead and his second covered 57 yards and extended that lead to 21-10.

“It’s outside zone I’m just looking for really any hole I can find and I found the right ones,” Anderson said. “I’ve been waiting to see that for a long time. It was a dream come true.”

Anderson wasn’t the only underclassmen forced into duty Saturday as the person handing him the ball was freshman quarterback Nicco Marchiol, who replaced Greene under center.

“He was probably a little anxious…but he comes in and he manages the game,” Brown said. “If you look at his stats, he ran the ball okay, he made a couple of throws, but he managed the game. It is pouring down rain, we’re playing on national TV on the road in his first extensive action and he showed (he was ready).”

Marchiol only completed 2-of-9 passes for 27 yards, but he ran for 32 and converted a couple of third downs to set up WVU’s insurance field goal in the fourth quarter.

“Just to get the job done,” Marchiol said of his mindset entering the game. “Whatever the conditions were, obviously not the ideal conditions for a quarterback out there, but when it matters, it matters. I just knew I had to come in and get the job done.”

Streak busters

WVU broke a couple of long streaks Saturday. First, the Mountaineers broke their losing streak against Oklahoma State, which dated back to 2014, and they broke the Cowboys’ 14-hame home winning streak.

“It’s been since 2014 that West Virginia’s beat Oklahoma State, which is way too long,” Brown said. “Then we broke a 14-game home winning streak and there’s been a lot of good teams that have come in here and hadn’t been able to get it done. And we were the team that got it done.”

Water world

To say the Mountaineers and Cowboys played the game in wet conditions would be a massive understatement. There was a near-constant downpour all game long that resulted in a number of miscues for both teams.

“That’s football weather,” Marchiol said. “That makes it 10 times more electric.”

Brown said they were aware of the forecast coming into the game and had practiced with a wet ball during the week. Some of WVU’s players didn’t seem to mind the conditions, however.

“I like playing football in any weather,” admitted linebacker Lee Kpogba.

Sanders out, Rangel in

The Cowboys were unexpectedly without veteran starting quarterback Spencer Sanders Saturday, turning instead to true freshman Garrett Rangel instead. Rangel seemed to struggled with the weather the most out of any player, missing a number of throws throughout the game. It didn’t help that WVU’s pass rush was after him all game long as well, getting him to the ground four times.

“We didn’t know he was going to play so we put our plan together to play Sanders,” Brown admitted. “It’s tough (for a freshman) — it’s pouring down rain, we had good pass rush, we tried to mix up our coverages.”

Rangle completed 18-of-42 passes for 178 yards and lost a fumble.

“Our goals didn’t change no matter who was out here throwing,” Kpogba, who had a team-high 13 tackles with 1.5 sacks, said. “We wanted to get a win and compete and end the season on a good note.”

End of an era

After five years, Dante Stills has finally played his final game as a Mountaineer. Stills will hold the program record for games played at 59.

“I don’t know if his record will ever be broken,” Brown said. “The most games ever played by a Mountaineer, I don’t know if that will ever be broken but I thought he showed up big today.”

Stills was only credited with an assisted tackle and two quarterback hits but caused major disruption along OSU’s offensive line all game long.

Playing to the whistle

Oklahoma State’s longest play from scrimmage Saturday was a 43-yard catch and run by Braydon Johnson. The problem for WVU was that it should only have been about a 12-yard reception, but junior cornerback Malachi Ruffin stopped trying to tackle Johnson in favor of celebrating an incomplete pass. The only problem was that the pass was, indeed, completed to Johnson, who took the opportunity to run away from Ruffin and gain about 30 extra yards.

“I can’t explain that one, I wish I could,” Brown said. “I know he made two nice plays on the last drive but I wish I could explain that one. I can’t explain the unexplainable.”

Ruffin rebounded to have a great sequence at the end of the game when he broke up three of OSU’s final four passes to force a turnover on downs.

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