MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Clint Trickett’s leadership is paying off for West Virginia.
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Trickett threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score, leading West Virginia to a 54-0 win over Towson on Saturday night.
After going 2-5 as a starter last year and looking lost at times in struggling to understand the offense after transferring from Florida State, Trickett has a firm grasp of it now.
“I have a semi-clue what I’m doing this year and it’s the same for everyone,” Trickett said. “I think it’s evident that everyone just looks comfortable out there and we look like we know what we’re doing.”.
The Mountaineers (1-1) scored on six of their first seven drives with little resistance from Towson and got the production from their running game that was missing in a season-opening loss to Alabama.
Trickett followed up a solid performance last week by completing 35 of 40 passes for 348 yards before being replaced by freshman William Crest late in the third quarter.
Coach Dana Holgorsen said for the first time since Geno Smith left for the NFL after the 2012 season, he has confidence that one of his quarterbacks can improvise on a play call and make it work.
“His communication is really good,” Holgorsen said of Trickett. “He understands where to go with the ball. I thought he managed the game well last week, but I thought he managed the game even better this week. I think he’s in a good place.”.
In the first meeting between the schools, Towson (0-2) of the Championship Subdivision couldn’t keep up with West Virginia’s up-tempo spread offense. The Mountaineers ran 96 offensive plays and amassed 606 total yards.
West Virginia posted its first shutout since beating Coastal Carolina 31-0 in the 2010 season opener.
The Mountaineers also scored more points than in any game last year.
Trickett had plenty of help. Four teammates had rushing touchdowns and 11 different receivers had catches, led by Kevin White with 10 receptions for 101 yards.
West Virginia’s Rushel Shell showed he’s capable both with his feet and hands, following a 16-yard run with an 18-yard reception on a screen pass in the third quarter. Shell had a game-high 71 rushing yards, including a 2-yard TD run, and had four receptions for 47 yards.
After four West Virginia running backs had a combined 58 yards on 19 carries last week, the Mountaineers compiled 251 yards on the ground Saturday night.
“We wanted to show everyone we could run the ball,” Shell said. “It felt great. We feed off each other.”.
Trickett completed 13 straight passes at one point. Right after the streak was snapped, Trickett’s 19-yard scoring toss to Jordan Thompson early in the third quarter put the Mountaineers ahead 38-0.
Later in the quarter, Trickett threw a short pass that Cody Clay caught near the ground in the end zone on fourth down. It was initially ruled a touchdown but was overturned on review and the Mountaineers turned the ball over on downs.
West Virginia got some of those points back with a safety on the next play when Towson’s Connor Frazier was called for intentional grounding in the end zone.
Frazier couldn’t shake the constant pressure of the defense in his second career start. Towson got past midfield twice and was limited to 122 total yards.
“It’s not like I didn’t know it was coming,” said Towson coach Rob Ambrose. “If there’s a word that’s stronger than disappointing, then you can use that. They tackled well defensively and used their team speed to their advantage.”.
West Virginia’s only trouble on offense came early in the game when it had trouble finishing drives.
“We’re efficient and we need to continue that the rest of the season,” Trickett said.