WVU football: Mountaineers dump Dukes
LANDOVER, Md. -- No. 9 West Virginia scored touchdowns on its first four drives Saturday, overwhelmed James Madison with 569 yards of offense and offered a stern response to the season's first bit of adversity in a 42-12 victory at FedEx Field.
WVU set a school record for the most points scored in three games after putting up 70 in the Orange Bowl against Clemson and 69 Sept. 1 against Marshall.
The Mountaineers (2-0) made $2.3 million for the neutral-site game before 45,511 people while JMU, the fifth-ranked team in the Football Championship Subdivision, made $350,000.
WVU's opening drive lasted 10 plays, the longest scoring drive of this season and shorter than only one 12-play drive against Clemson. The Mountaineers ran the ball six times to take the early lead on Shawne Alston's 2-yard run, but threw the ball on all five downs of a touchdown drive the next time they got the ball.
Stedman Bailey followed a 36-yard reception with a 9-yard touchdown catch and then added a 3-yard touchdown reception on the third drive when WVU hurried its offense and caught JMU (2-1) subbing two players. Bailey was left uncovered.
A fourth straight Dukes punt to start the game preceded an eight-play, 86-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 4-yard pass to redshirt freshman Dante Campbell. It was Campbell's first career reception. In the season-opener, redshirt freshman K.J. Myers scored a touchdown on his first career catch.
The Mountaineers led 28-0 and had 32 plays for 298 yards and needed just 10 minutes, 50 seconds off the clock. Quarterback Geno Smith started 17-for-20 for 218 yards and three scores and helped WVU go 3-or-3 on third down as the Mountaineers made sure they weren't the ninth FBS team to lose to a FCS team this season or the second national championship contender to lose to the Dukes.
JMU famously won at Virginia Tech in 2010, but started with 17 snaps, 38 yards and three three-and-outs against WVU.
"We talked about it," Coach Dana Holgorsen said. "They're exactly who we thought they were. We talked about it all week because they deserve respect. Put the tape on and it looks like good football. They play hard, they tackle well, their schemes are good. They've showed the potential to upset people. Give our guys credit for not falling into their trap."
Smith finished 34-for-39 for 411 yards and five touchdowns and played three quarters and one play of the fourth for a second straight game. He's 66-for-75 for 734 yards, nine touchdowns and no interceptions this season.
"What did I have, five incompletions?" he asked after game. "I could have completed all five of those."
Smith also passed Marc Bulger as the school's all-time leading passer and now has 8,191 yards. He also has five of the eight 400-yard passing games in WVU history.
Bailey had a school-record 13 receptions for 176 yards and three scores and Tavon Austin added 11 receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown. Both had more than 100 yards by halftime.
The Dukes, who played without running back Dae'Quan Scott, the team's leading rusher and receiver, had 300 yards of offense, but just 99 in the first half. JMU, which scored 97 points its first two games, was just 6-for-19 on third down.
Quarterback Justin Thorpe was 6-for-13 for 71 yards and an interception in WVU's end zone. Running back Jordan Anderson, starting in Scott's place, had 75 yards on 17 carries.
JMU attempted to make it interesting to start the second half. The Mountaineers tried and failed on a fourth down at the JMU 49, the second time in as many games that's happened to the offense. WVU was denied at the goal line against Marshall.
JMU took the ball and got to the WVU 3, but turned it over on downs. The Dukes ran the same play they used to convert a fourth down in the second quarter, but WVU safety Darwin Cook and linebacker Doug Rigg made the tackle on the right sideline and stopped Anderson a yard short of the end zone.
"I thought it was a great opportunity for the kids to get put in a tough situation," defensive coordinator Joe DeForest said. "And I'm glad they got put in that situation early in the year."
On the next play, though, Alston was tackled in the end zone for a safety to make it 28-5.
The Mountaineers answered with an eight-play, 70-yard drive that needed only 2:47 before Smith found Bailey for a third time, that from 30 yards out and between two defenders, even when inside receiver Connor Arlia ran alone on a slant into the end zone.
The play gave WVU its highest three-game point total, topping the record set when the Marshall score followed the Orange Bowl and the 30-27 win at South Florida last season.
JMU marched again on WVU's defense and made it to the 1 before a false start on third down preceded a pass into the end zone. Cornerback Pat Miller and receiver Arlandis Harvey battled for position and tipped the ball into the air. Linebacker Tyler Anderson secured the interception in the back of the end zone.
The Mountaineers needed only five plays to respond with Andrew Buie catching passes of 27 and 30 yards, the second to give Smith the career yardage record. Austin scored on a 7-yard pass to start the fourth quarter and put WVU ahead 42-5.
"One thing we haven't faced going back to last year is adversity," Holgorsen said. "We had three close games to finish the season last year and we overcame the adversity. Going out after halftime, we wanted to come out and win the second half. We ended up doing that, but we faced some adversity in that third quarter."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at email@example.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.