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(Saturday, September 1st)
Final Score: (11) West Virginia 69, Marshall 34
Morgantown, WV (Sports Network) - Geno Smith threw for 323 yards and four touchdowns and added another score on the ground, as the 11th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers started the season with a 69-34 rout of the Marshall Thundering Herd.
Smith completed 32-of-36 passes and carried the ball eight times for 65 yards for the Mountaineers (1-0), who racked up 655 yards of total offense. Paul Millard also threw a touchdown pass.
Shawne Alston carried the ball 16 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns for West Virginia, which played its first game as a member of the Big 12 Conference. Stedman Bailey led the receiving corps with nine catches for 104 yards and two scores.
Rakeem Cato connected on 38-of-54 passes for 413 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for the Thundering Herd (0-1). Travon Van carried the ball 16 times for 38 yards and two scores.
The Mountaineers scored a touchdown on their first offensive possession and never looked back. Alston's nine-yard run combined with a 15-yard personal foul on Marshall set up West Virginia at the 33. Two plays later, Smith rolled to his right and found Bailey in the end zone for a 32-yard score. Tyler Bitancurt missed the extra point.
West Virginia made it a 13-0 contest on its next drive. J.D. Woods caught passes of 22 and 11 yards to put the ball at the Marshall 6-yard line. Alston capped the eight-play march with a three-yard TD run.
After forcing another punt from the Thundering Herd, the Mountaineers marched down the field again. The home team decided to go for it on 4th-and-goal from the 3-yard line. But Smith was stopped on a quarterback sneak with seven seconds left in the first stanza.
Marshall's offense fed off the stop and put together a 14-play, 98-yard scoring drive. On 3rd-and-7, Eric Frohnapfel caught a 24-yard pass to get the ball past midfield. Van's 16-yard run and Aaron Dobson's 12-yard catch preceded Van's four-yard TD run, which cut the gap to 13-7.
But it was all West Virginia from that point on. Smith completed three straight passes before Andrew Buie rushed for 18 and 24 yards, with the latter resulting in a score.
After Justin Haig made a 34-yard field goal to make it 20-10, Tavon Austin caught a six-yard TD pass from Smith. Austin started the three-play drive with a 70-yard run.
Woods caught a nine-yard TD pass with one minute left before the half, making it a 34-10 contest.
Alston and Smith recorded rushing touchdowns around Van's three-yard TD run in the third period. Isaiah Bruce returned a fumble 43 yards for a score and Haig made a 29-yard field goal to cap the scoring in the frame.
In the fourth, Bailey and K.J. Myers scored for the Mountaineers to make it a 69-20 game. Tommy Shuler and Frohnapfel caught TD passes for Marshall to account for the final margin.
WVU leads the all-time series by a 12-0 margin ... West Virginia's 69 points were the most ever scored by the Mountaineers in a season-opening game ... West Virginia holds an all-time record of 97-29-4 in season openers and 95-18-6 in home openers ... Smith's fourth quarter, five-yard touchdown pass to Bailey pushed his career total to 60, and he now owns the WVU career touchdown passes record ... Marshall offensive lineman Garrett Scott was carted off field with a left leg injury in the second quarter.
09/01 17:55:45 ET