West Virginia Mountaineers blast Youngstown State in home opener

MORGANTOWN — Will Grier rebounded from an opening-drive interception to throw four touchdowns and No. 14 West Virginia piled up 625 yards while handling Youngstown State 52-17 on Saturday night.

Gary Jennings caught three of those touchdowns — from 11, 24 and 33 yards out — part of a six-catch night for 97 yards. Marcus Simms made eight grabs for 119 yards while All-American candidate David Sills had a quiet night (two receptions for 33 yards).

Grier, who threw 34 touchdowns in 2017 and five against Tennessee last week, completed 21 of 26 passes for 332 yards in three quarters of action.

West Virginia (2-0) enjoyed a boost from its running game that produced 289 yards, led by freshman Leddie Brown with 115 yards on 15 carries.

Fellow freshman Alec Sinkfield capped West Virginia’s 99-yard drive with his first career touchdown, a 9-yard run with 3:50 left in the first quarter.

That followed an opening drive in which Grier suffered his first turnover of the season, a third-and-5 interception by nickel back Will Latham at the Youngstown State 23.

Starter Martell Pettaway added 77 yards on 12 carries and Kennedy McKoy gained 76 yards on 11 attempts for the Mountaineers, who improved to 19-0 all-time against FCS opponents.

The only blights for WVU involved penalties — 12 for 114 yards — and Sinkfield being carted off to the locker room before halftime with a lower leg injury.

Youngstown State (0-2), coming off what was considered a monumental FCS upset against Butler, was held to 293 yards.

Penguins tight end Miles Joiner caught a 4-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter from Montgomery VanGorder, and Tevin McCaster ran in a 13-yard score in the third period that temporarily drew the visitors within 28-14.

Two years ago the Penguins stalemated WVU to a 14-14 halftime tie, but this time the favorites scored late in the half to take a 21-7 edge. That started a sequence of five successive touchdown drives by the Mountaineers.

By the third quarter, West Virginia fans had shifted their focus to next week’s matchup at N.C. State, a game facing uncertainty as Tropical Storm Florence tracks toward the Carolinas. An administrator said both schools were in talks about contingencies.

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