By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian
Quarterback Geno Smith passed his way into the record books on Saturday as he completed 32 of 36 passes for 323 yards as West Virginia overwhelmed Marshall, 69-34.
Smith’s fourth TD pass of the day to Stedman Bailey gave him 60 for his career, breaking the record set by Marc Bulger from 1996-99 when he threw 59 TD passes.
Earlier in the game Smith broke the school record for career completions with 643.
The record breaker was a 13-yard completion to J.R. Woods.
The 69 points were the most the Mountaineers have scored in a season opener since beating Richmond, 66-22, in Morgantown in 1958 and were the most points they have scored against Marshall since beating the Thundering Herd, 81-0, in October 1923.
The offensive balance was stunning, rushing for 331 yards and passing for 324 for a total yardage of 655 yards. That is 19 yards shy of the school record of 674 in a victory over Washington & Lee in 1923.
The total is a Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium record, however, breaking the mark set last year against Bowling Green when WVU gained 643.
Linebacker Isaiah Bruce played his first game as a Mountaineer and wound up leading the world with 16 tackles and scoring a touchdown on a fumble recovery and return.
WVU played 10 of the 15 freshmen who dressed for the game.
Most touching moment of the opener came as the fans gave a standing ovation to the grieving state troopers lined up on the goal line as a tribute to their fallen brothers Marshall L. Bailey and Eric M. Workman, who died in the line of duty in Clay County.
• First kickoff of the year, by Corey Smith, into the end zone. The new rule did its thing.
• First play was a pass completion by Marshall ... a sign of things to come, the Herd completing 38 of 54 passes for 413 yards. Ten receivers caught passes.
• The first loss came when defensive end Will Clarke hit Travon Van hard, had him escape only to be tackled for an 8-yard loss.
• First punt, by Marshall, a good one, out of bounds at WVU 6.
• First punt by WVU, a bad one, blocked.
• WVU’s first offense play, a run by Tavon Austin. A sign of things to come. WVU rushed for 331 yards and Austin before the game was over broke a 70-yard run.
• WVU’s first pass, fittingly, was a screen to Austin for 6 yards. If you remember, all four TDs thrown by Geno Smith in the Orange Bowl were on screen passes.
• First TD by WVU, a pass from Smith to Stedman Bailey, who made a circus catch in the back of the end zone for the 32-yard score.
• First extra point ... well, that had to wait as Tyler Bitancurt missed his first try of the year.
• First penalty of the year may be the dumbest of the year ... WVU getting a delay of game out of a time out.
• First scrap of the year ... Marshall and WVU got into it as the Herd came out onto the field, Geno Smith being one of the first in there to help break it up ... or was he egging it on?
• First sack of the year ended up being the first defensive touchdown of the year, WVU linebacker Terence Garvin knocking the ball out of quarterback Rakeem Cato’s hand and Isaiah Bruce picking it up and running for a 43-yard touchdown.