WVU easily gets by Youngstown State, must clean mistakes
MORGANTOWN — Dean Martin would have been right at home Saturday afternoon at Milan Puskar Stadium as the ‘weather outside was frightful, but the fire — make that game — was so delightful’ as No. 14 West Virginia moved to 2-0 on the season with a 52-17 victory over Youngstown State.
On a day made for Penguins, redshirt senior quarterback Will Grier threw for over 300 yards, and the Mountaineers running game accounted for 289 as WVU primed up for its second big showdown of the season at N.C. State next Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
“Gentlemen,” opened YSU coach Bo Pelini. “I’ll start by saying that’s a good football team we played. We hung in there for a while, but we just couldn’t get off the field on third down on defense.
“We had our opportunities, but our margin of error wasn’t big tonight.”
Just as he did in WVU’s 40-14 win over Tennessee, Grier spread the wealth around in the passing game, as seven different pass catchers were on the receiving end of his attempts, with junior Marcus Simms hauling in a team-best eight for 119 yards.
Senior Gary Jennings, Jr. tallied touchdowns on half of his six receptions, while senior David Sills, V and Alabama transfer T.J. Simmons chipped in with two each.
On the ground, freshman Leddie Brown led a balanced attack with 115 yards on 15 carries with one score, while junior Martell Pettaway added 77 yards on the same number of carries. Kennedy McKoy chipped in with 76 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries, while redshirt sophomore Alec Sinkfield added 24 yards and a six-pointer before leaving the game with a leg injury in the second quarter.
“Defensively, they have some players, but offensively they are much better,” Pelini said when asked to compare this year’s team to the 2016 squad that beat the Penguins by a 38-21 margin. “They have a chance to do some stuff. They have a really-good team.”
Fans wanting to see just who is the backup quarterback for the Mountaineers got their wish with 12 minutes to go in the game when University of Miami transfer Jack Allison trotted onto the artificial surface at Mountaineer Field for the first time.
Allison’s first pass attempt was too long for senior Dominique Maidens, who earlier scored on a 40-yard strike from Grier, but hit Jovani Haskins on a 4-yard gain as WVU had to settle for a 31-yard Evan Staley field goal.
The first 30 minutes of action was a myriad of good and bad for Holgorsen’s squad.
Offensively, Grier and Company amassed 305 total yards on 44 plays and scored three touchdowns. But, the Heisman candidate also threw his first interception of the year on WVU’s opening drive.
Defensively, Tony Gibson’s gang gave up a 20-yard run by the Penguins’ Tevin McCaster on the first play from scrimmage but limited the visitors to no yards until a 10-play, 75-yard drive in the second quarter, aided by two pass interference calls on WVU, allowed YSU to reach the end zone.
McCaster finished with 72 yards on 14 carries, while quarterback Montgomery VanGorder completed 11 of 24 attempts for 157 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Special teams witnessed Simms return a pair of kickoffs 40 yards and a pair of punts for 13, while senior Billy Kinney’s only punt of the half went for 49 yards.
“We did some good things tonight,” Holgorsen said. “We also did some dumb things tonight. Obviously, we have some things that we are going to have to clean up before next weekend or we won’t be 3-0.”
For the game, WVU finished with 625 total yards (336 passing, 299 rushing) on 75 plays, while the defense held the Penguins to 293 total yards and recorded nine tackles for 31 yards in losses.