West Virginia scored early and often at FedEx Field on Saturday afternoon, putting away the James Madison Dukes, 42-12.
The eighth-ranked Mountaineers (2-0) forced James Madison (2-1) to punt on its first drive and Geno Smith led the offense up the field on a ten-play drive, leading to a two-yard Shawne Alston touchdown run to open the scoring.
After forcing a three-and-out, WVU moved right down the field again, though this time with less resistance, and scored on a nine-yard Smith pass to Stedman Bailey. Smith would hit Bailey again on the next drive for three yards to give West Virginia a 21-0 lead after the first quarter.
"I started out uncovered," said Bailey. "They're guys were scrambling on and off the field, and I think they had 12 or 13 guys out there, but yet I was still just sitting there by myself, and Geno did a good job recognizing that and hitting me."
The second quarter would start off with some promise for the Dukes, as Jordan Anderson would run for ten yards to convert a fourth down, but they still had to punt, and the Mountaineers went right down the field again. This time, Smith hit Dante Campbell for a four-yard pass.
After each team had four drives, WVU had 287 yards to James Madison's 55.
The Dukes did finally stop the West Virginia offense on their fifth try, and a 24-yard punt set them up with great field position. They would eventually have to settle for a field goal, but did get themselves on the board for the first time with 1:02 to play, and while the Mountaineer offense threatened to score once more, time expired, and West Virginia went to the locker room with a 28-3 lead.
James Madison looked like it would gain some momentum early in the second half, too. After stopping the Mountaineers on a fourth down try on their first possession, the Dukes drove down to the West Virginia three yard line to set up a first and goal. The Mountaineer defense held, though, and stopped all four Duke tries. Then, on the next play, Alston was tackled in his own end zone for a safety.
The ensuing drive could have pulled James Madison to within 16, but a three and out gave the ball back to West Virginia, and the Mountaineers would take advantage of that opportunity. Smith would throw his fourth touchdown pass, and his third to Bailey, this time for 30 yards.
"Offensively, we didn't do very well when we got stopped there on fourth down," said Dana Holgorsen. "Then we took a safety, but then scored three or four more times after that, which it was good to get back on track."
The Dukes would once again get down to the one yard line, but once again could not break the plane of the goal line. This time, Tyler Anderson intercepted a tipped Justin Thorpe pass, giving the ball right back to the Mountaineers. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Smith threw yet another touchdown pass, this time for seven yards to Tavon Austin.
Paul Millard would come in to lead the West Virginia offense for the remainder of the fourth quarter, but was unable to generate any more points. The Mountaineer defense did give up its first touchdown of the game with 49 seconds left, but West Virginia came away with the 42-12 win.
"I'm proud of our guys," said Holgorsen. "I think we got better on all three sides of the ball. We came in with the objective of hoping that would happen and hoping that we would be able to play a lot of kids. I think last week we played 62 and I'd be surprised if we didn't play a little bit more than that this week."
Smith ended with another huge day, throwing for 411 yards, five more touchdowns, and zero interceptions again. On the season, he has nine touchdowns and nine incompletions. He also passed Marc Bulger as WVU's all-time leading passer.
Bailey came up just five yards short of his career-high, finishing with 173 and three touchdowns. His 13 receptions also set a West Virginia record. Austin finished with 113 yards and a score.
"That was a pretty big performance," said Bailey, "but that's something that I expect out of myself- to go out and make plays, week in and week out, and just do whatever I can to help the team win."
James Madison will face Rhode Island next week, while the Mountaineers will head home next to take on a Maryland team that lost its first game of the season Saturday afternoon. That will be their last non-conference game before playing Baylor on Sep. 29 in their Big 12 debut.