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A week after getting no call, Martell Pettaway answers the bell

COMMENTARY

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Martell Pettaway could have turned into Martell Poutaway after one of the lowest moments of his career.

A week ago, Pettaway was a healthy scratch against North Carolina State. Outside of his freshman year, it was the first time the senior running back didn’t play in a game he dressed for.

As Neal Brown explained it, the N.C. State gameplan didn’t have any use for Pettaway, who only would have been used in two-back sets against the Wolfpack. But it still would have been easy for a fourth-year player who had already burned what should have been a redshirt season in 2016 to get frustrated. Moments like this are when you find out who is and who isn’t on board with a rookie head coach.

“Coach Brown has been telling me I needed to play better, and I used that for confidence,” Pettaway said. “Last week I wasn’t in the gameplan, but that’s fine.”

Consider Pettaway aboard the Good Ship Brown.

“Pettaway is a veteran guy. He doesn’t worry about things like that,” said fellow senior running back Kennedy McKoy. “He knew his opportunity was going to come. And he knew when his opportunity came, he would have to make the most of it.”

Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports

West Virginia running back Martell Pettaway (32) scores a touchdown as Kansas Jayhawks defensive tackle Jelani Brown (90) defends during the second half at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

When his number was finally called in the second half at Kansas, Pettaway answered in a big way.

Pettaway’s first touch in two weeks was brilliant. Designed merely to pick up a first down on third-and-3, Pettaway turned it into a piece of art.

After making it past the marker, he picked up a block from tight end Mike O’Laughlin, then busted out a video game spin move to leave the defense grasping at air as he made his way to the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown.

“Mike O’Laughlin made a hell of a block to cut off the linebacker, and after I broke the tackle I bounced right back and knew it was going to be a touchdown if it happened like that,” Pettaway said. “That [spin] was just instinct. That just comes.”

Pettaway’s second touchdown run may have been better, albeit for different reasons.

With West Virginia facing a third-and-5 at the Kansas 7, Pettaway patiently waited for a hole to open. When a pair of options became available, he chose wisely, cutting his way to the inside of pulling right guard Chase Behrndt and cruising into the end zone for the touchdown that would ultimately be final difference on the scoreboard.

“We felt he deserved to get some reps after how he practiced this week,” Brown said. “The two touchdown runs he had were big-time plays. And that’s the kind of player he can be.”

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West Virginia grinds out road win at Kansas to open Big 12 play

LAWRENCE, Kan. — For now, any talk of West Virginia’s ineptitude in the running game can be put to bed.

Kennedy McKoy and Leddie Brown each rushed for more yardage than the Mountaineers had in their first two games combined, while Martell Pettaway added a pair of touchdowns that proved critical in a 29-24 road win over Kansas.

West Virginia finished with 192 rushing yards, a season-high. Overall it was WVU’s best rushing performance since gaining 232 yards at Texas last season.

Count Kansas coach Les Miles among the surprised.

“I have to be honest with you, I didn’t expect them to be that good,” Miles said. “They made plays, and I think our defense was on the field in the first half just seemingly forever.”

The Mountaineers, who came into the game ranked 95th nationally in third-down conversions, also picked up first downs on 9 of their 18 attempts. As a result, WVU had a 15-minute advantage in time of possession, holding the ball for 37:41.

It’s the first road win and first Big 12 win for first-year West Virginia coach Neal Brown.

“Good win. First road win. I’m proud of our young group,” Brown said. “We didn’t play our best, but we found a way. You’ve got to find a way to win on the road. You’ve got to grind it out… we showed good poise here today.”

Saturday’s game was tougher than nearly every tangle with the Jayhawks over the last eight years. Kansas’ 2013 win over West Virginia was the only previous time the Jayhawks finished within 16 points of the Mountaineers since WVU joined the Big 12 in 2012.

The margin was a show of how quickly former LSU coach Miles has re-energized the culture at KU. The listed attendance of 35,816 appeared fairly close to reality, and Kansas fans gave their team a standing ovation after the game despite the loss.

“It’s a credit to Coach Miles and his staff,” Brown said. “They’ve done a good job. They’ve made significant progress in a short amount of time.”

This one wasn’t put to rest until the Mountaineers defense forced Kansas running back Pooka Williams out of bounds at the WVU 12 on the tail end of an attempted miracle hook-and-lateral play as time expired.

Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports

Kansas wide receiver Andrew Parchment (4) laterals to running back Pooka Williams Jr. (1) as he is hit by West Virginia safety Jake Long (22) on the final play of Saturday’s game.

West Virginia seemed to give itself enough breathing room when Pettaway’s 7-yard touchdown run gave it a 29-17 lead with 5:04 remaining. But an attempted trick play on a 2-point conversion failed, and Kansas kept itself alive when Carter Stanley hit Andrew Parchment for a 3-yard touchdown pass with 2:10 left.

Sam James alertly knocked the ensuing onside kick out of bounds, but Kansas got the ball back with 32 seconds left following a Josh Growden punt that rolled into the end zone for a touchback. The Jayhawks moved the ball to midfield before attempting their final play.

It was not a banner day for the West Virginia defense, which allowed 417 yards on only 56 plays. But the defense made what Brown called the biggest play of the game, an acrobatic Keith Washington interception near midfield in the fourth quarter. Washington’s takeaway set up the 11-play drive that culminated in Pettaway’s touchdown.

“I kind of baited the quarterback a little bit because I knew I had safety help over the top,” Washington said. “In the beginning, I thought I misjudged it a little bit, but God blessed me and I made the play.”

The ensuing 11-play touchdown drive featured 10 runs and a sweet release for an offensive line that was maligned following a Week 2 loss at Missouri.

“It’s a mindset. We haven’t changed fundamentals or run schemes,” said senior left tackle Colton McKivitz. “It’s just guys playing hard. That’s been the biggest key for the past two weeks. We’re getting mad, we’re getting angry coming off the ball.

“The first two weeks we were the talk of the team for not doing our job. So they’re taking it to heart and those young guys are playing physical. They have some aggression with ’em.”

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Photo gallery: Capital moves to 3-1 with win over Parkersburg

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Photos from Capital’s 35-13 win over Parkersburg.

(Photos courtesy of Chuck Roberts)

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Update: Suspects arrested in Raleigh County murder case

RALEIGH COUNTY, W.Va. — Two suspects were arrested Saturday and charged with the murder of a man whose body was found in a wooded area of Raleigh County, earlier this week.

Franklin Yancey, 24, and William Garretson, 54, both of Glen Morgan, were taken into custody by sheriff’s deputies and charged in the shooting death of 20-year-old Roy Lee Barnes III of Crab Orchard.

Barnes’ body was discovered Tuesday near Whitby.

The suspects are being held at Southern Regional Jail.

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West Virginia football teams pay respects to Alex Miller

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A compilation of tributes from around West Virginia high schools Friday evening to Roane County senior Alex Miller. Miller passed away last weekend.

(Video produced by Taylor Kennedy).

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FINAL: West Virginia holds off Kansas, 29-24, for first Big 12 win

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Neal Brown earned his first Big 12 win as West Virginia went on the road to beat Kansas, 29-24.

The game came down to the last play, but the Mountaineers (3-1, 1-0 Big 12) stifled the Jayhawks’ (2-2, 0-1) attempted hook-and-lateral to win the game.

Check MetroNews on-air and online for complete postgame coverage.

FOURTH QUARTER

West Virginia 29, Kansas 24 (2:10)

The Jayhawks marched 70 yards in 2:49, capping the drive with Carter Stanley’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Parchment.

West Virginia 29, Kansas 17 (5:04)

Keith Washington’s acrobatic interception set up the offense in ideal position to put the game away.

The Mountaineers ran the ball 10 times on their 11-play, 51-yard drive that was capped off by a 7-yard Martell Pettaway touchdown run. It was Pettaway’s second touchdown of the game.

West Virginia 23, Kansas 17 (12:35)

An eventful drive, to say the least.

WVU rolled the dice with a pass to the end zone on fourth-and-1 from the Kansas 24 and got bailed out with a pass interference call against the Jayhawks. But the Mountaineers still ended up settling for 3 when it was over thanks to a pass breakup by safety Jeremiah McCullough at the goal line.

Evan Staley hit a 22-yard field goal to extend the lead.

THIRD QUARTER

West Virginia 20, Kansas 17 (4:08)

Carter Stanley hit Andrew Parchment for a 75-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the possession.

West Virginia 20, Kansas 10 (4:20)

The Mountaineers took over in favorable field position after a customary gamble by The Mad Hatter.

Les Miles had his team attempt an onside kick — which was recovered by Kansas — but then negated by a 15-yard penalty for catch interference when Dante Bonamico wasn’t given an opportunity to field the kick. If a kick goes into the air rather than being bounced off the ground, the returner must be given the chance to field it.

The Mountaineers only drove 5 yards, but it was enough to set Evan Staley up for a 45-yard field goal with the wind at his back.

West Virginia 17, Kansas 10 (6:06)

West Virginia’s defense held firm after the Jayhawks moved inside the 10-yard line on an 11-play, 71-yard drive. Kansas settled for a 21-yard Liam Jones field goal.

West Virginia 17, Kansas 7 (10:31)

After last week’s benching, Martell Pettaway responded in a big way on his first touch in two weeks. With an impressive spin move, Pettaway broke free from the Kansas defense for a 21-yard touchdown run.

The Mountaineers moved 70 yards in 10 plays on an impressive drive to open the second half.

SECOND QUARTER

West Virginia 10, Kansas 7 (0:00)

Evan Staley bounced a 37-yard field goal off the right goal post to give the Mountaineers a lead going into their very cramped visitors’ locker room.

The lead had to feel like a relief after an otherwise ugly second quarter. West Virginia endured a pair of drops, two bad sacks and a missed field goal before finally getting a positive result on a nine-play, 51-yard drive in the final 48 seconds of the first half.

Kansas 7, West Virginia 7 (12:06)

Quarterback Carter Stanley connected with receiver Kwamie Lassiter for a 28-yard touchdown pass.

The score was set up by a third-down conversion on the previous play. A miscommunication between safety Sean Mahone and cornerback Keith Washington left receiver Stephon Robinson wide-open for a 13-yard gain on third-and-9.

An unlikely Stanley scramble for 19 yards was the play that seemed to fire up the Kansas offense for the first time in the game.

FIRST QUARTER

West Virginia is up by a touchdown, but the offense can’t feel good about a three-and-out to end the quarter after starting the possession near midfield.

West Virginia 7, Kansas 0 (7:37)

Kennedy McKoy ran into the end zone untouched from 3 yards out to cap off West Virginia’s opening 13-play, 71-yard drive.

WVU converted a pair of third-and-long plays to keep the drive moving. Austin Kendall hit T.J. Simmons for an 18-yard gain on third-and-11, then found McKoy for a 13-yard reception on a third-and-7. Leddie Brown also converted a short third down on the drive.

PREGAME

Offensive lineman Josh Sills did not make the trip and will miss his second-straight game with an injury. Chase Behrndt will start at right guard.

Left guard Mike Brown is back in the lineup after missing last week’s game at N.C. State with an illness. Slot receiver Tevin Bush is back in the lineup after last week’s one-game suspension.

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West Virginia residents pay respects to Roane’s Alex Miller

SPENCER, W.Va. — Classmates of Roane County High School senior Alex Miller formed a semi-circle around Miller’s painted parking space at the school near Spencer Saturday to say goodbye to their friend who tragically died just eight days earlier when he collapsed during the Roane-Clay football game.

Courtesy Photo

Alex Miller

Miller, 17, was remembered in visitation and funeral services inside the school just a few feet away from that space which has served as a memorial this past week. Its newly painted message is that Miller was powered by ‘Angel Wings’ shortly after he went unconscious on the sidelines between the first and second quarters of the Sept. 13 game.

The space is surrounded by Dr. Pepper bottles and cans.

“Alex’s favorite drink was Dr. Pepper and he loved Oreo Blizzards,” Boggs Fork Community Church youth leader Fred Hammack said Saturday when he spoke to reporters outside the school. “Dr. Pepper was his drink of choice and I think these kids have probably drank more Dr. Pepper than they have all year long.”

There were dozens of teenagers at Saturday’s services. Many wearing the maroon of Roane County High but there were also students from other schools and football players from other schools there wearing their jerseys. Hammack said he’s not surprised at the support from both Roane County and the surrounding region.

“They rally. When everything just goes bad this community rallies. I’ve always said, ‘even your enemies will come out,’ and they do,” Hammack said.

Jeff Jenkins/WVMetroNews.com

The Spencer fire truck flew the flags of Raider nation Saturday.

Hammack knew Miller on a more personal level having been his church youth group leader. He said Miller had a strong testimony, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and that’s what gives hope within the tragedy.

“These kind of days you have to really cling to that. We know we’re going to see him again. I know I haven’t seen Alex for the last time,” Hammack said.

2019 Roane County High graduate Sharalin Metzger traveled from college in Ohio to Saturday’s funeral. She was also in Miller’s church youth group.

“He was definitely a leader and you could really see Jesus through him and the love he had for God,” Metzger said. “I think he definitely showed the way Jesus is and he loved everyone and I think that’s what people could see through him. He didn’t judge them, he was just friends with everyone.”

Counselors will be back at the school Monday morning, Roane County School Superintendent Richard Duncan said Saturday.

“We want to be here for our kids as much as we can and provide those additional counselors and social workers and support personnel to be with them,” Duncan said. “That’s the biggest thing is just to be with them.”

Duncan said there will be time for review how the school system has responded to the tragedy. He said the number one priority has been Miller’s family and friends.

“Whatever response we have as a system pales in comparison to what the Miller family has been going through and what Alex’s close friends have been going through,” Duncan said. “We do hope that at least we’ve shown when crisis does happen we have ways of being there with people.”

Next Friday will likely be another emotional time when the Roane County Raiders play for the first time since Miller’s death. Duncan said he expects an inspired performance from Miller’s teammates in a home game against Braxton County.

“We’re going to have additional support there for the boys. We’ve been working real close with our coaching staff to make sure our boys have their minds in the right place. It’s going to be tough getting back on the field next Friday night and every Friday night. It’s the new normal,” Duncan said.

A cause of death has not been determined.

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Bulger family says it will sue feds for inmate’s death at Hazelton prison

HAZELTON, W.Va. — The family of Whitey Bulger plans a $200 million wrongful death lawsuit against the federal government in connection with the 89-year-old crime boss’ death at the Hazelton federal prison in Preston County.

Whitey Bulger 2011 mugshot

Bulger was killed just 11 hours after arriving at Hazelton last October. He had been transferred from another prison.

Bulger was convicted of 31 of 32 federal racketeering charges, including 11 murders, in 2013 and sentenced to two life terms plus five years.

In September of 2014, Bulger was sent to the Coleman II United States Penitentiary in Sumterville, Florida. On October 29, 2018 he was transferred to Hazelton.

The primary suspect in the killing was mafia hit man Freddy Geas, he has never disputed his role in the killing.

“We believe that James Bulger was deliberately placed in harm’s way,” the Bulger family said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal. “There is simply no other explanation for the transfer of someone in his condition and inmate status to be placed in the general population of one of the country’s most violent federal penitentiaries.”

At the time of his death Boston Globe investigative reporter Shelly Murphy said during an appearance on MetroNews “Talkline” that it seemed strange for Bulger to be transferred to Hazelton.

“We know there were people at that prison, not just the guy now suspected in the murder, but others that have Boston ties there,” she said. “It’s just a little strange they would put Whitey in a place with known adversaries.”

Bulger was the third inmate killed within seven months.

The family also says that because of all the civil judgments and restitution orders against Bulger they would never benefit from a court decision in their favor.

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Man takes, wrecks ambulance while under arrest in Monongalia County

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — An inmate from the West Virginia Department of Corrections took an ambulance from Ruby Memorial and attempted an escape Friday in Morgantown, police said.

WVRJA

Craig Martisko

At 2:25 p.m. Craig Allen Martisko, 45, of Granville, allegedly took the ambulance and drove in the direction of West Virginia 705. Martisko was in an orange jump suit and handcuffed when he crashed near Chateau Royale and ran up a hill from Don Nehlen Drive.

A canine officer tracked Martisko to Building 2700 of Chateau Royale where he was attempting to break into an apartment.

The suspect was arrested without further incident.

While fleeing police say Martisko hit a Star City ambulance, several cars and fixed objects. He was examined before being taken back to the North Central Regional Jail.

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Man killed in Huntington shooting

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — A man was shot and killed in Huntington early Saturday morning.

According to police, Sontezz Lomax, 39, of Charleston, previously of Huntington, was shot as he stood near the The Lantern bar at 817 4th Avenue. The shooting occurred at around 2:50 a.m.

Another person was hit by flying debris. The injuries were not life-threatening, police said.

No arrests have been made in connection with the shooting. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Huntington Police Department at 304-696-4420 ext 1025 or the Crime Tip Line at 304-696-4444.

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