No. 9 West Virginia 42, James Madison 12

As fun as they are to watch, Geno Smith and his West Virginia

receivers don’t play Sam Huff football.

Too much finesse. Too many yards. Too many points.

It was only appropriate, therefore, that on the day the

Mountaineers honored their legendary linebacker, the less-heralded

defense had a couple of moments that no doubt did him proud.

Give Smith his well-deserved accolades for his five touchdown

passes Saturday in the No. 9 Mountaineers’ 42-12 win over James

Madison, but don’t fault the defense if it boasts a bit about a

couple of goal line stands that might have looked right at home in

the Huff days of the 1960s.

”I bet you he was pretty excited, wasn’t he?” West Virginia

defensive coordinator Joe DeForest said. ”I hope so. I’d like to

talk to him about it. … What they did there, they showed like

they’re growing up.”

With the Mountaineers playing at the Washington Redskins stadium

– they need to maintain an East Coast profile for recruiting now

that they’ve moved to the Big 12 – former Redskins Hall of Fame

linebacker Huff served as the honorary captain and soaked up the

cheers as he held up his long-retired No. 75 jersey during the

quarter break in the first half.

By then, Smith had already staked West Virginia (2-0) to a 21-0

lead. He went to complete 34 of 39 passes for 411 yards, moving

past Marc Bulger (8,153) to set the school record for career yards

passing (8,191).

Smith’s favorite targets, Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, both

had 100 yards receiving by halftime. Bailey finished with 173 yards

on 13 catches and three touchdowns, while Austin had 113 yards on

11 receptions and one score for the Mountaineers, who piled up 569

yards and improved to 13-0 all-time against FCS schools.

What could Smith have done better? Not much.

”I had five incompletions,” the quarterback said. ”I could’ve

completed all five of those.”

He added that he could have made better decisions when the

offense hit a lull in the third quarter, but that’s when the

defense came through, stopping James Madison on four running plays

after the Dukes had first-and-goal at the 3, then coming up with a

third-down interception in the end zone after a first-and-goal at

the 9.

”The two goal line stands were very impressive,” West Virginia

coach Dana Holgorsen said. ”As a team we overcame adversity there

in the third quarter. We’ve got to get used to that.”

They won’t have much if Smith keeps playing like this, working

the no-huddle attack with creative tosses, slip screens and

scrambles. It was a thing of beauty when he ignored the rusher in

his face and draped a pass onto Austin’s shoulder for a 24-yard

gain in the second quarter.

Much of the time, however, the quarterback found receivers so

open that his passes became easy target practice, including his

4-yard touchdown throw to Dante Campbell for the redshirt

freshman’s first collegiate catch.

Stedman’s touchdown catches came in various shapes and sizes – a

9-yarder on a screen, a 3-yarder on a fade in which no one covered

him, and a 30-yarder that Smith lobbed perfectly into a seam

between two defensive backs down the sideline.

The Mountaineers have scored 181 points in their past three

games – including 70 in last season’s Orange Bowl and 69 in their

opener against Marshall.

The Dukes (2-1), remembered for stunning then-No. 13 Virginia

Tech two years ago, tried just about everything, but they were

never in this one.

”They’ve shown potential to upset people,” Holgorsen said. ”I

give our guys credit for not falling into that trap.”

James Madison got called for 12 men on the field twice on

defense in the first quarter, and then successfully converted a

fourth-and-1 at their own 34 on the first play of the second

quarter – a ploy that managed to keep the Mountaineers’ offense off

the field for a least a couple of extra minutes.

”We didn’t come out of the chute at all,” James Madison coach

Mickey Matthews said. ”I can’t show you why. We didn’t show a lot

of poise.”

The Dukes were also missing leading rusher Dae’Quan Scott, who

injured an ankle last week. Then they lost Daniel Brown to a torn

ACL in his right knee on the first offensive play, defensive tackle

Jordan Stanton to a concussion, and safety Titus Till to an ankle


James Madison’s fans roared when their team finally forced West

Virginia to punt late in the first half, and again when the

Mountaineers’ Shawne Alston was tackled for a safety in the third

quarter – although the two points were a bittersweet consolation

prize that came after the offense had been halted by the Huff-like

stop at the 1.

”The goal line stands by them in the third quarter,” Matthews

said, ”certainly kept it out of reach.”

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