"I felt like it was going to be fun," Cook said. "I wanted to see what this defense could do with some adversity and our backs against the wall. It was good for us because what we were going through, we didn't want anything easy. We had to see who had something in them to step up and make a play."
Safety Karl Joseph combined with nose guard Shaq Rowell to stop running back Jordan Anderson after a two-yard gain. Linebacker Isaiah Bruce, who followed his 16-tackle performance against Marshall with nine against JMU, dropped Anderson for a 2-yard loss. Cook and linebacker Terence Garvin stopped Anderson a yard short of the end zone on third down.
The Dukes called a timeout and ran the same play they used for a 10-yard gain on fourth-and-1 in the second quarter. Thorpe faked a handoff to the fullback and pitched it outside to Anderson. Cook raced to the right sideline, caught Anderson and brought him down as linebacker Doug Rigg arrived to finish the play.
"That was great for us," Rigg said. "You can try to simulate that in practice all you want, but it's different in a game with the fans going crazy and the adrenaline you're feeling."
On the next play, Alston was tackled in the end zone for a safety - his fourth negative-yardage rush of the day after only one against Marshall.
WVU's defense forced a three-and-out with sacks by Garvin and Dozie Ezemma on second and third down. The Mountaineers had one sack against Marshall and one in the first half against JMU, but finished the day with four.
Quarterback Geno Smith then went 6-for-6 for 61 yards and ended the ensuing drive with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Stedman Bailey.
"It was a positive thing for us," Smith said. "We didn't get down and we picked one another up to get to the next play. That's a good sign for us as a team. We had a situation where we weren't moving the ball, but I'm proud of the defense. They stepped up and held them on two goal-line chances. That's a really positive thing for this team."
JMU moved again on its next possession and a 33-yard pass to tight end Brian Barlow and a 15-yard run by Thorpe helped get to the WVU 9 in four plays. Rigg and Cook made tackles on first and second down and a false start penalty moved the ball back to WVU's 6. Thorpe's third-down pass to Arlandis Harvey was deflected into the air as Harvey battled with cornerback Pat Miller. Linebacker Tyler Anderson caught the interception in the end zone for a touchback.
The Mountaineers needed five plays to go 80 yards for their final touchdown.
"That was a great opportunity for our kids to be put in that situation and I'm glad they were put in it so early in the season, so we could teach our kids off of it," defensive coordinator Joe DeForest said. "Our kids got excited to play and it showed."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142 His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.