Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Smith Sizzles in Lopsided Win Throws 4 Touchdown Passes, Runs for Another Td as Wvu Puts Hurt on Herd West Virginia 69, Marshall 34

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Smith Sizzles in Lopsided Win Throws 4 Touchdown Passes, Runs for Another Td as Wvu Puts Hurt on Herd West Virginia 69, Marshall 34

Article excerpt

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Right on cue, 11th-ranked West Virginia roared into the season Saturday, dominating Marshall, 69-34, behind a remarkable opening game by quarterback Geno Smith.

Smith completed 32 of 36 passes for 323 yards and four touchdowns, engineered eight scoring drives, ran for one touchdown on a broken play and looked every bit the Heisman Trophy contender most experts pegged him to be.

"He managed the game as well as anybody I've ever been around," coach Dana Holgorsen said. "First and foremost, I'm really pleased with how Geno played. He's done a great job of leading the team, leading the offense and taking care of the football."

The offense amassed 655 total yards and did so with relative ease and near-perfect balance: 324 yards passing and 331 rushing. Seven players scored.

Smith looked polished and patient, and, by midway in the second quarter, became the Mountaineers' career leader for completions with his 631st -- a 13-yard pass to J. D. Woods.

Among the other standouts was tailback Shawne Alston, who rushed for a career-high 123 yards and two touchdowns, breaking tackles and dragging bodies.

Andrew Buie rushed for 80 yards on six carries, and Smith added another 65 yards on eight.

The run game made a big difference, said Smith, whose team is known for its passing.

"The run game is the quarterback's best friend. To have those guys run the ball so well, the coverage being very vanilla, backing off, it made it pretty easy on me," Smith said. "We kept those guys on their toes the whole game. They didn't know whether we were going to run or pass it. As long as we stay balanced, I think we'll give a lot of defenses some problems."

Smith engineered five first-half scoring drives as West Virginia took a 34-10 lead into halftime.

The drives were as brisk as they were impressive.

Smith directed scoring drives that lasted under four minutes. The first one covered 3:36 and ended with a 32-yard touchdown pass to Stedman Bailey; 2:48 that ended with Alston's 3-yard scoring run; 1:45 that finished with Buie's 24-yard run; 41 seconds that ended with a 6-yard pass to Tavon Austin, and 1:49 that ended in a 9-yard pass to J. …

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