For the third-straight game, WVU put up video game statistics, ringing up 348 yards and 28 points by halftime. James Madison fans showed a sense of gallows humor, offering the Dukes’ defense a standing ovation when it finally stopped a Mountaineer drive with fewer than 5:00 remaining in the half.
By then, it was over. Quarterback Geno Smith had already thrown for three touchdowns, and Shawne Alston had rushed for another to make it 28-0.
“He’s doing a great job of making checks,” WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said of Smith. “He’s getting us in the right plays. His completion percentage is off the charts, and he’s not taking sacks.”
It was another record-setting day for the Mountaineer offense.
In the final stages of the third quarter, Smith moved past Marc Bulger for the school’s career passing yardage record. Smith completed 34 of 39 passes for 411 yards and five touchdowns. He has as many touchdown passes this season as incomplete passes (nine each) through two games.
His favorite target on this day was former Miramar (Fla.) High School teammate Stedman Bailey, who set another school mark with his 13 receptions, the most of any receiver in a single game in program history. Six Mountaineers previously owned the record with 12 grabs in a game.
Offensive Player of the Game
Bailey made the most of his catches as well, finishing with 173 receiving yards and three scores. Tavon Austin added another 11 catches for 113 yards and a touchdown. It was the first time WVU had two players with 10 or more catches since Mickey Walczak and Mark Raugh each reached double-digits in a 1981 loss to Syracuse.
“They’re good,” JMU coach Mickey Matthews said, “and they’re very worthy of their ranking ... their quarterback, you just can’t sack the guy. He’s bigger than our defensive linemen. When I was at Georgia, we used to play Peyton Manning, and that was the biggest problem we had with him -- we couldn’t sack Peyton because he was bigger than our defensive linemen. That’s what Geno is.”
The Mountaineer defense showed signs of improvement after struggling in the season-opener against Marshall. WVU allowed only 300 yards -- 93 of which came in the fourth quarter when backups entered the game.
Of JMU’s 12 points, two were the fault of the offense (Shawne Alston was tackled in the end zone for a safety) and another three came from a field goal after a short punt allowed the Dukes to start a drive in Mountaineer territory. James Madison added a late touchdown on a 12-play, 62-yard drive against West Virginia’s defensive reserves.
Defensive Player of the Game
9 total tackles
2.0 tackles for loss
Notably, the WVU defense came up with two goal-line stands in the second half, as Tyler Anderson intercepted a Justin Thorpe pass a few drives after the defense stuffed JMU’s Jordan Anderson on a fourth-and-goal run.
“One thing we haven’t faced, going back to last year, is adversity,” Holgorsen said. “We had three close games to finish the [regular] season last year and overcame adversity ... but we faced some adversity there in the third quarter ... [and] the goal line stands were really impressive.”
For James Madison, Thorpe threw for 71 yards and added another 44 on the ground. Jordan Anderson, filling in for the injured Dae’Quan Scott, added 75 yards on 17 carries.
The game drew a crowd of 45,511 to FedEx Field, the home of the NFL’s Washington Redskins. That was more than 10,000 more than the number of those in attendance at Maryland’s home game against UConn in nearby College Park. It was only about 2,500 fewer fans than Pittsburgh drew for a home game against a Virginia Tech team that came in ranked in the nation’s top 15.