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Marshall looking to lessen negative plays, get back to ‘winning football’

— By Bill Cornwell

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall’s 26-21 win over what was then a nationally-ranked Notre Dame team September 10 seems much longer than a few weeks back. 

That’s because of the Thundering Herd’s recent showings in consecutive road losses to Bowling Green and Troy, the first of which came in overtime with MU heavily-favored against the Falcons, before offense was virtually non-existent last Saturday against the Trojans.

In both setbacks, a multitude of factors have cost the Herd mightily, including turnovers, missed assignments and inconsistent offensive play that led to a mere 174 total yards in a 16-7 loss at Troy.

As his team prepares for Saturday’s 3:30 home game against Gardner-Webb, Marshall head coach Charles Huff says his biggest goal this week is to reduce and eliminate plays he refers to as ‘Herd Beaters’, including turnovers, penalties, missed tackles, sacks and negative-yardage plays.

“We have to get back to playing complementary football,” Huff said. “We have to focus on the things we can control that lead to winning football.”

Against Troy, the negative plays included five sacks allowed, a blocked field goal and perhaps most importantly, a lost fumble that was returned for a touchdown. Combined with Troy’s 321 passing yards to Marshall’s 78, it was too much for Huff’s team to overcome as it lost its opener in Sun Belt play.

Huff was quick to point out that his team followed a 2-0 start with consecutive losses a year ago as the Herd fell to East Carolina and Appalachian State after beating Navy and North Carolina Central.

The coach also hinted at personnel changes for the Gardner-Webb game.

“We’re going to either change the person if we believe he can better handle a position or we’ll coach up the current starter if we feel their backup is no better,” Huff said. “On the offensive line especially, we had these same issues in August, but we worked around them.”

Huff indicated he’s not blaming the recent offensive line pass blocking issues on the sudden coaching staff change as Eddy Morrissey’s departure on September 16 led to veteran assistant Bill Legg taking over the MU offensive front.

Still, quarterbacks Henry Colombi and Cam Fancher combined to complete only 11-of-20 passes for 78 yards against Troy, as the Herd offense was unable to develop rhythm regardless of who was behind center.

On Saturday, Marshall (2-2, 0-1) will look to turn things in the right direction when it plays its second home game and first in a month against FCS foe Gardner-Webb (1-3) from the Big South Conference.

The contest at Joan C. Edwards Stadium will be shown on ESPN+.

Marshall has won the only previous meeting against Gardner-Webb, which enters off a 45-13 loss to Mercer last Saturday. The Bulldogs opened this season with a 56-21 win over Division II Limestone, before losing consecutive games to Sun Belt member Coastal Carolina (31-27) and Elon (30-24) along with last week’s Mercer loss.

Tre Lamb is in his third year as the Bulldogs’ head coach and has a 7-24 overall record.

Because Marshall opened this season with a win over Norfolk State of the FCS, Saturday’s result does not factor into the Herd’s bowl eligibility. Marshall needs at least five wins over FBS opponents to qualify for a bowl as FBS teams can count only one win per season over an FCS opponent towards bowl eligibility.

Marshall isn’t on the road again until October 22 at James Madison. Between Saturday’s contest and the matchup with the Dukes, MU will play a home league game Wednesday, October 12 against Louisiana, which defeated the Herd in last year’s R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl before Marshall became a Sun Belt member.

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Couple accused of trying to sell U.S. secrets will serve more time after second look

Recognizing there are still some variables in the court system, a federal prosecutor says a man accused of trying to sell secrets of America’s nuclear submarine fleet could face 17 to 19 years while his wife who served as a drop point lookout could serve up to nine years.

“I think the sentences that are before the court are appropriate. I think there’s a good range of sentences,” said Bill Ihlenfeld, the federal prosecutor for the Northern District of West Virginia. “These are very serious matters — tremendous public safety, national security issues at stake here.”

He was addressing guilty pleas entered this week in federal court in Martinsburg by Jonathan and Diana Toebbe.

Each pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal count of conspiracy to communicate restricted data, a felony, in exchange for dropping other charges. Without the pleas, they would have faced a jury trial early next year.

Now that they have pleaded guilty, a sentencing hearing is still ahead.

Diana and Jonathan Toebbe were arrested Oct. 9, 2021 in Jefferson County, WV. Credit/Diana Toebbe Instagram

The Toebbes are accused of working together to sell information about America’s most sophisticated nuclear-powered vessels on memory cards, taking them to drop points hidden in mundane disguises like sandwiches or gum wrappers and asking for infusions of cryptocurrency from agents they believed represented a foreign power. Instead, it was an FBI agent.

Jonathan Toebbe was a nuclear engineer for the Department of the Navy, assigned to the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. He had an active top secret/sensitive compartmented information security clearance through the federal government.

Diana Toebbe is accused of being his lookout for a series of dead drops of information, including in Jefferson County, the location that prompted the federal court jurisdiction in West Virginia.

Last month, a federal judge rejected the first plea deals reached between the couple and prosecutors, saying the proposed penalty was too light for the damage that could have been inflicted.

Diana Toebbe’s previous plea called for jail time of no more than 36 months. Jonathan Toebbe’s previous plea would have resulted in  12.5 to 17.5 years imprisonment.

Now, depending on factors like a pre-sentencing report by the federal probation office and the judge’s own discretion, the Toebbes would serve more time than they would have under the original agreements.

“What was different yesterday than before is the plea agreements call for greater sentencing than the original agreements,” Ihlenfeld said.

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Strange enjoying strong start to season for Penn State

Brenton Strange doesn’t hide that he plays with a chip on his shoulder.

A former Parkersburg standout in his fourth season at Penn State, the redshirt junior tight end has 14 receptions for 211 yards and three touchdowns through four games of the 2022 campaign.

He continues to apply a blue collar approach to football, something Strange suggests comes from being a West Virginia native.

“I am blessed to play at a program like Penn State,” Strange said. “Being from West Virginia, I feel like you grew up with that chip. Everyone plays hard. Everyone is a hard worker in everything they do. There are a lot of blue-collar people in the state. I feel like I am one of those workers in football.”

Strange has applied that same thought process to his daily work and is on track for easily have his most productive season yet at PSU.

“I have done it by doing what needs to be done,” Strange stated. “It has helped me a lot, whether in school, football, or the relationships I have built over the time I have been here. Being raised in West Virginia helps me out a lot.”

Strange was a two-time Class AAA first-team all-state selection while playing for coach Mike Byus at PHS, and after sorting through 20-plus Division I offers, he committed to Penn State in October 2018.

Still, Strange didn’t feel he gained the attention or notoriety that he would have playing high school football in many other states.

“Being from West Virginia, you kind of get overlooked. In the recruiting process, I felt that I was overlooked. In high school, there were guys I thought were not better and they were ranked higher than me. Even when I was younger, I played with a chip on my shoulder. That is how I carried myself and that is how I operate.”

Although the list of offers was lengthy, Strange settled on Penn State after attending a ‘White Out’ game at Beaver Stadium in 2018 against Ohio State.

“They invited me to their camp. Following the camp, they offered me,” Strange noted. “After that, we were building our relationship. My first true experience at Penn State was the whiteout game in 2018. I walked into that stadium and immediately knew that was where I wanted to play. I wanted to play on big stages like that.”

The 6-foot-3, 247-pound tight end has appeared in 28 career games as a Nittany Lion, including all 13 last season. 

Despite the 2019 season being a redshirt campaign for Strange, his only catch went for a 4-yard touchdown. The next year, Strange had 164 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 17 catches.

His progress continued in 2021 with 20 receptions for 225 yards and three scores, and Strange has taken the next step in 2022. He brought in a 67-yard touchdown pass in a season-opening win at Purdue, caught six passes for 80 yards in a win at Auburn and hauled in two touchdowns for the first time in his career during last week’s win over Central Michigan, helping 11th-ranked PSU improve to 4-0 in the process.

“I have seen myself grow so much,” Strange said. “I would look back at my old highlights before games and it reminds me of who I am. I have seen myself grow more off the field. [PSU head coach James Franklin and tight ends coach Ty Mowle] have molded and prepared me for everything that could happen — not just in football here, but in real life. They help us a lot and prepare us for what we need to be prepared for life after football.”

It’s safe to say the decision by Strange to play at Penn State has yielded positive results thus far, and there could be plenty more in store.

“Penn State has a great blend of everything, including the academics, sports, and off-the-field activities,” Strange said. “That is why I fell in love with Penn State. I knew it could give me everything I needed to succeed in football and life after.”

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West Virginia could see remnants of Ian

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Forecasters say, Hurricane Ian which is heading toward Florida’s Gulf Coast, will travel north and possibly dump several inches of rain in West Virginia this weekend.

Kimberly Hoeppner, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston, told MetroNews Wednesday the storm could enter the southern part of the state by Saturday.

“Our southeastern counties could see between 2-4 inches of rainfall,” Hoeppner said.

NWS photo

Ian could then move toward the Capital City, but she said it all depends where the system decides to go after it makes landfall.

“If this track shifts its path a little bit further west that will be spread toward Charleston,” Hoeppner said. “On average, for the lowland locations across Charleston, Huntington and north up toward Parkersburg and Clarksburg we’re looking at half an inch of rainfall.”

Remnants of hurricanes and other tropical storms in West Virginia is common this time of year, Hoeppner said.

“It is very active in the season across the south between September and October, so it’s not unusual to see these storms tracking into our direction,” she said.

A lot of rainfall in a concentrated area is always a risk due to West Virginia’s terrain, but Hoeppner said this season has been dryer than usual so the potential impacts may not be as widespread.

“Fortunately, this time of the season our rivers are usually at the lowest points and we’ve had some dry periods so our soils aren’t as saturated, but we still need to monitor,” she said.

The storm will through much of Sunday into early Monday before shifting further to the northeastern part of the country.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Ian was listed as a Category 4 hurricane with max sustained winds of up to 155 miles per hour.

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Field set for the WVSSAC State Golf Championships

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The first WVSSAC state championship of the 2022-2023 academic year will be hosted by Wheeling’s Ogelbay Resort next week. The Jones Course is once again the site for the State Golf Championships. The 36-hole event begins on October 4 and concludes the following day.

Eight teams in each class qualified through regional tournaments earlier this week. Additionally, eight individuals not on qualifying teams have advanced to the state tourney.

Tee times begin at 8:30 a.m. each day and competitors will tee off on the No. 1 and No. 10 holes. The Jones Course features a Par 71, 6,605-yard layout.

All three defending state champions have qualified for this year’s event: George Washington (Class AAA), Herbert Hoover (Class AA) and St. Marys (Class A).

Class AAA qualifying teams:

  • Cabell Midland (Region IV)
  • George Washington (Region III)
  • Greenbrier East (Region III)
  • Hurricane (Region IV)
  • Martinsburg (Region II)
  • Morgantown (Region I)
  • Washington (Region II)
  • Wheeling Park (Region I)

Class AA qualifying teams:

  • Herbert Hoover (Region III)
  • Fairmont Senior (Region I)
  • Keyser (Region I)
  • Lewis County (Region II)
  • Lincoln (Region II)
  • Point Pleasant (Region IV)
  • Shady Spring (Region III)
  • Winfield (Region IV)

Class A qualifying teams:

  • Charleston Catholic (Region III)
  • East Hardy (Region II)
  • Gilmer County (Region IV)
  • Moorefield (Region II)
  • St. Marys (Region I)
  • Summers County (Region III)
  • Wahama (Region IV)
  • Wheeling Central Catholic (Region I)


Class AAA qualifying individuals:

  • Ashton Allen (Spring Mills)
  • Beau Fletcher (Hedgesville)
  • Briar Manko (Preston)
  • Brielle Milhoan (Parkersburg)
  • Kaleb Smith (St. Albans)
  • Colton Sprowls (John Marshall)
  • Parker Vannoy (Parkersburg South)
  • Will Wentz (Riverside)

Class AA qualifying individuals:

  • Cody Blake (Independence)
  • Jacob Brannon (Robert C. Byrd)
  • Kerri-Anne Cook (Westside)
  • Blake Hunt (East Fairmont)
  • Isaac Meddings (Wayne)
  • Emerson Simons (Roane County)
  • Jude Smith (Weir)
  • Ally Wellman (Wayne)

Class A qualifying individuals:

  • Andrew Addair (River View)
  • Sydney Baird (Webster County)
  • Cameron Beachler (Pendleton County)
  • Landon Bennett (Calhoun County)
  • Blake Lewis (Parkersburg Catholic)
  • Kelan Lucas (Ravenswood)
  • Mason Nichols (Tyler Consolidated)
  • Lucas Riggleman (Petersburg)

Tee times/Field/Leaderboards

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North Carolina man charged for throwing narcotics at Oak Hill police causing them to overdose

OAK HILL, W.Va. — A North Carolina man is facing attempted murder charges after two police officers overdosed during a traffic stop in Fayette County.

Keith Deshon Adams was arrested Tuesday night in Oak Hill. Adams was pulled over by Oak Hill police just before 6 p.m. near C. Adam Toney Tires and then fled on foot toward U.S. Route 19.

Adams is accused of throwing a bag believed to be opiate narcotics into the officers’ faces. During the struggle, two officers collapsed and began overdosing on the drug.

An off-duty nurse and other citizens that were passing by at that time helped render aid to the officers and administered the opioid reversal drug Narcan.

Both officers were treated at Plateau Medical Center and were released Tuesday night.

Adams is currently in police custody at CAMC.

The incident is being investigated by the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department. Deputies are still looking for a second person who escaped from the vehicle. Anyone with information is urged to contact the department at 304-574-3590.

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Scott & Winfield continue to impress in Class AA (Week 6 preview)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Greg Carey and Joe Brocato recap the most significant Week 5 results in Class AA and set the stage for the key games in Week 6.

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MetroNews This Morning 9-28-22

Today on MetroNews This Morning:

–Senator Manchin’s energy bill is removed from the Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government

–Two Maryland residents plead guilty to selling Navy nuclear secrets in West Virginia

–Labor leaders remember the legendary WV AFL-CIO President Jim Bowen who died this week

–In sports, the WVSSAC playoff rankings are out and Neal Brown with high praise for the Texas Longhorns

Listen to “MetroNews This Morning 9-28-22” on Spreaker.

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Capito, Fox News’ Perino visit Morgantown for Girls Rise Up events

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., welcomed Fox News Channel’s Dana Perino to West Virginia this week for events associated with the senator’s Girls Rise Up program.

The senator and Perino held events Monday at Suncrest Elementary School and West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media focused on discussing the importance of female empowerment.

Perino served as White House press secretary in the George W. Bush administration before joining Fox News as a political commentator. She serves as a co-anchor of “America’s Newsroom” and a co-host of “The Five.”

Capito launched the Girls Rise Up program after joining the Senate in 2016; the effort focuses on inspiring women to pursue leadership opportunities. Capito is West Virginia’s first female senator.

“Delivering this message to young women in Morgantown alongside Dana Perino was truly special,” Capito said in a release.

“Whether it’s the fourth and fifth graders at Suncrest Elementary or the college students at WVU looking to take their next steps professionally, this message comes at such a critical point in the lives of these young women. There’s no question that these young women are the leaders of tomorrow, and I can’t wait to see all of the wonderful things they accomplish in the years to come.”

Perino commented on the visit when she returned to her Fox News duties on Tuesday.

“It was a good day,” Perino said during “America’s Newsroom.”

“They are great people, [and] it’s a beautiful state.”

Monday’s event marked the 26th gathering of the Girls Rise Up program in its history.

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We Could Lose a Few Pounds

We are a plus-size nation, and we’re getting heavier all the time.

The annual report on The State of Obesity by the Trust for America’s Health found that “Obesity rates have been rising for decades across states, ages, sexes and racial/ethnic groups, with continued increases during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

(The Trust defines obesity as “an individual’s body fat and body fat distribution exceed the level considered healthy.” For adults, body-mass index (BMI) is used as a proxy for body fat.  For example, an adult with a BMI of 30 and above is considered obese. For children, BMI is expressed as a percentile of their peer group. For example, a child in the 95th percentile or greater is considered obese.)

According to the Trust, four in ten adults are considered obese, and that is a 37 percent increase over the last two decades. Ten years ago, no state had an obesity rate above 35 percent. Now, 19 states fall into that category.

Children are also getting heavier. One in five children is obese. That is an increase of 42 percent over the last two decades.

The Trust reports that being overweight contributes to many physical and mental conditions, higher health care costs and loss of productivity.  Individuals who are overweight are at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, depression, illness from Covid-19 and other maladies.

Unfortunately, West Virginia is at the top of the Trust’s state-by-state obesity list. Forty-one percent of our state’s adults are classified as obese, and three-fourths fall into the categories of obese or simply overweight. Kentucky is right behind us, followed by Alabama, Oklahoma and Mississippi.

The least obese states are Hawaii at 25 percent, followed by Colorado, Massachusetts, California and New Jersey.

According to the Trust, there are several reasons for our weight problem. One is food and nutrition insecurity. That is when households do not have access to enough food and/or the kind of food that provides high nutritional quality. This condition is more common in poorer rural states like West Virginia.

Another reason is a lack of physical activity. The Trust found that one in three West Virginia adults are physically inactive. That is one of the highest rates in the nation. Individuals in Colorado were the most active.

We are free to live our lives as we choose, and that includes eating what we want and sitting on the porch instead of working in the garden or going to the playground.

Also, many have limited access to healthy food options, and shoppers quickly learn that less nutritious meals are cheaper and more convenient.

None of this is about fat shaming; it is a simple, but disturbing, recognition of one of the ongoing challenges in West Virginia that has a direct impact on our well-being.


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