West Virginia scored 49 first half points and then went on to pick up an easy 56-20 victory over ECU Saturday afternoon in Morgantown for their first win of the season.
West Virginia literally scored at Will as Mountaineer quarterback Will Grier threw for 329 yards and four touchdowns in the first half on the way to 352 yards and five touchdowns overall before being lifted in the third quarter. Justin Crawford ran for 118 yards and two touchdowns in West Virginia’s first victory of the season.
All told, WVU generated 619 yards of offense to just 470 for ECU who threw for 328 yards and ran for 128. Thomas Sirk went 16 for 34 through the air for 191 yards and a touchdown to go along with a pair of interceptions before getting shook up in the third quarter. He was lifted for Gardner Minshew who came on to pass for 137 yards on 7 of 13 passing with one touchdown. Tyshon Dye led the ECU running game with 74 yards on 14 carries.
“In the first half we had a penalty, a penalty and an interception to kind of stop some drives," Scottie Montgomery said after the game. “I thought we had some really good stuff working against them in the first half but we shot ourselves in the foot and got into some second and third and longs with no way to recover. Defensively in the first half we just didn’t slow them down at all. If you don’t slow the down and they’re scoring at will, running tempo on us, it makes it hard to stay in the game.”
West Virginia(1-1) took a quick 21-3 lead in the first quarter on touchdowns from Justin Crawford, Ka’Raun White and Kennedy McCoy on two seventy-plus yard drives and another of 53 yards.
“My game plan was to use the time of possession and slow this game down, but when they score, score, score on you and you only get three and you look up and it’s 21-3 I was still counting the possession we were going to get at halftime and I thought the game was closer than it seemed to be," said Montgomery, "But when you get down 49-3, that’s just too big a hole to dig out of.”
The Pirates were able to generate a Jake Verity 23-yard field goal after the ECU 14-play drive stalled on the three-yard line when Thomas Sirk was thrown for a four yard loss on third and goal.
Grier, who threw for 144 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter, picked right up where he left off early in the second quarter leading a six-play 81-yard drive. His 52-yard bomb to Marcus Simms, who outran ECU cornerback Chris Love, extended the lead to 28-3.
ECU’s Thomas Sirk then threw one of his two first half interceptions to Kyzir White at the Pirate 32-yard line that led to a nine-yard Grier to David Sills touchdown and a 35-3 lead. The Mountaineers scored again with 4:35 to go in the half on a 41-yard run up the middle from Justin Crawford to make it 42-3.
Sirk’s second pick that ended a promising ECU drive at the 14-yard line led to a 75-yard Grier to Sills bomb as WVU took a 49-3 cushion into the locker room at halftime. Sirk went 12 of 26 for 133 yards in the first two quarters while the Pirate running game stood at just 55 net yards at intermission.
Along with Grier's 329 first half yards on just 16 completion, Justin Crawford ran for 110 yards in the first two quarters on just 13 carries. David Sills generated 149 yards on six receptions with a pair of touchdowns.
“In the second half we challenged them to come out and compete. We drove the ball down and got three. I wish we had got more and then we started to put together some different deals,” said Montgomery.
Jake Verity got ECU(0-2) on the scoreboard first in the second half with a 45-yard field goal to cut the lead to 43. The Pirates followed that with a Sirk to Jimmy Williams touchdown pass to cap a 7-play, 79-yard drive in a 49-13 contest.
WVU then took advantage of a short field after a botched onsides kick recovery attempt and Grier found Sills again for a 4-yard strike and a 56-13 lead with just over six minutes to play in the third quarter.
The Pirates stuck again early in the fourth quarter when quarterback Gardner Minshew found Trevon Brown for an ECU record 95-yard touchdown to trim the Mountaineer lead to 56-20.