Clint Trickett led West Virginia to scores on six of the eight possessions that he was in the game as the Mountaineers rolled to a 54-0 victory over Towson Saturday night at Milan Puskar Stadium.
“It as a good team win,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. “A lot of guys played. We had 96 plays on offense, so getting a lot of guys to play and being able to evaluate that will boost the team’s confidence.”
Trickett completed 35 of 40 passes for 348 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the only West Virginia quarterback not named Geno Smith to complete at least 35 passes in a game.
“I thought he managed the game great last week and I thought he managed the game great tonight,” said Holgorsen.
Trickett engineered scoring drives on five of West Virginia’s six first-half possessions, with the Mountaineers’ only empty showing coming as the result of a missed 34-yard field goal by Josh Lambert.
Wendell Smallwood got in the end zone on the game’s opening possession, a 1-yard plunge, and Rushel Shell added a 2-yard TD run following a 19-yard Lambert field goal.
Trickett hooked up with Mario Alford on a 1-yard fade pass for the Mountaineers’ third touchdown, and then he added a TD run right before the end of the half when he ran a quareterback draw in from the 5.
After West Virginia forced Towson to punt on its opening possession of the third quarter, Trickett had the Mountaineers right back in the end zone when he fired a pretty 19-yard scoring strike to Jordan Thompson on a quick slant.
Trickett’s last complete possession of the game ended at the Towson 4 when his fourth-and-goal pass to Cody Clay in the end zone was ruled a touchdown on the field, but was later overruled by the replay official.
On the very next play, with Shaquille Riddick bearing down on him, Towson quarterback Joe Brennan was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, giving West Virginia a safety and its 40th point of the evening.
Three plays after the free kick, Trickett was lifted in favor of touted true freshman William Crest. Crest’s first drive ended at the Towson 21 when he was sacked for a six-yard loss and fumbled on the play.
The freshman did engineer two scoring drives, the Baltimore, Maryland, resident crossing the goal line from the 4 with 12:04 remaining in the fourth quarter, and then directing an 11-play, 59-yard drive that culminated with Andrew Buie’s 3-yard touchdown run.
The final stat line on Crest’s college debut included completions on 3 of 4 passes for 7 yards and 14 yards on four rushes.
“I made the decision early in the week if we got the opportunity (to play a backup quarterback) he was going to be the next guy in,” said Holgorsen. “We talked to Paul (Millard) about redshirting and I still don’t know if that’s going to be possible, he’s a guy that can come in and run all of our offense any time that he wants to. William has been getting a bunch of reps and the only way he can continue to get reps and be effective down the road is to keep repping him.
“He obviously brings a different dynamic to the game, which is good for us,” added Holgorsen.
Shell led all ball carriers with 71 yards on 14 carries; Kevin White led all receivers with 10 catches for 101 yards. Buie finished the game with 70 yards on just nine rushing attempts. West Virginia had 606 total yards tonight, making it the first time since Georgia State last year (604) that the Mountaineers had more than 600 yards of offense in a game.
At one point early in the third quarter the Towson offense had negative-1 yard on four straight possessions and finished the night with just seven first downs and 122 total yards. The Tigers were 4 of 15 on their third down conversion attempts.
The shutout was the first by the Mountaineer defense since Coastal Carolina in 2010.
“I made a comment to (offensive coordinator) Shannon (Dawson) in the second quarter, it was probably the first time since one of Geno’s last games in 2012 when I felt like I could call plays and (Trickett) was going to make it work,” said Holgorsen. “I finally had that feeling again tonight.”
West Virginia (1-1) concludes the non-conference portion of its schedule next Saturday afternoon in College Park, Maryland, when the Mountaineers take on the 2-0 Terps, who came back to defeat South Florida, 24-17, earlier today.
Last year, Maryland beat West Virginia 37-0 in Baltimore.
“Our entire team is going to be fired up to play that game,” said Holgorsen.
Next Saturday’s game will kick off at noon and will be televised on the Big Ten Network.