MORGANTOWN — It took longer than expected, but the West Virginia Mountaineers picked up their first win of the season Saturday night, 56-17, over Duquesne in a game that included a nearly two-hour weather delay.
“Winning is hard and we made it harder than it needed to be at times (Saturday),” WVU coach Neal Brown said. “I wasn’t pleased with how we started.”
Redshirt freshman receiver Hudson Clement, a former W.Va. state champion at Martinsburg, had a breakout performance, pulling down five receptions for 177 yards and three first-half touchdowns.
“I think life’s about opportunities and what you do with your opportunities,” Brown said. “He’s been really productive in practice and we’ve just been waiting for him to do it in a game and he broke out.”
Clement started in place of senior Devin Carter, who hurt his ankle earlier in the week and was ruled out during pregame.
“Three touchdowns is obviously a crazy accomplishment, especially for your first game,” Clement said. “I have the utmost confidence in myself to perform at a high level but no one really expects going into their first college football game and playing like that.”
Brown awarded Clement with a scholarship in the locker room after the game.
“That’s something that I came here and I knew I would have to grind for,” said Clement, who walked on the team last season. “Every day you’re kind of playing with that in your mind that (a scholarship) is the goal.”
Prior to the one-hour and 54-minute delay for lightning in the area, the Mountaineers (1-1) looked sloppy and allowed the Dukes (1-1), an FCS team, to hang around. The score before the delay was 14-10 with WVU holding the slight lead.
“I wasn’t real pleased with the start of (the game),” Brown said. “The break was probably as good for me as it was for anybody because I was at a breaking point with how we played early.”
After the break in the action, the Mountaineers came out and looked as dominant as they should have playing an opponent from a lower division.
When play resumed with 8:14 to play in the second quarter, the Mountaineers scored on all three of their remaining possessions before halftime, which did not include a break due to the delay, while holding the Dukes to negative eight yards on their remaining three drives.
“We showed some mental toughness and came out in the first four or five minutes after the lighting delays and took care of business,” Brown said. “There were some bad things, but I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing that they had to overcome some adversity.”
WVU’s lead at halftime had ballooned to 35-10. Before the delay, the Mountaineers gained 157 yards on 26 plays (3.8 average) and scored 14 points. After the delay, WVU gained 195 yards on 13 plays (15 average) and scored 21 points before halftime.
“I think the biggest thing was just me getting on page with the wideouts,” junior quarterback Garrett Greene said. “I think the coaches did a great job of keeping us focused with the game plan and any additions or subtractions we made.”
Greene became the first WVU quarterback under head coach Neal Brown to throw for four touchdowns, finishing with 240 yards on 10 of 18 passing with four scores.
Starting running back CJ Donaldson carried the ball 13 times for 56 yards. Fellow tailback Jaylen Anderson had four carries for 38 yards and an eight-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
Clement scored the first WVU touchdown, a 14-yard pass from Green in the first quarter to tie the game 7-7. Anderson’s score made it 14-7 and then Clement scored two more times, from 70 and 46 yards, respectively. Preston Fox’s 22-yard touchdown reception made the score 35-10 at halftime.
West Virginia inserted the second-team offense in the second half.
True freshman running back Jahiem White scored a 19-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter to push the lead to 41-10. White finished with 110 yards on 12 carries, all in the second half.
The Mountaineers would have had a second third-quarter score, but freshman receiver Rodney Gallagher rumbled a ball through the endzone resulting in a touchback for the Dukes.
Backup quarterback Nicco Marchiol ran for a one-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. The redshirt freshman finished 7 of 14 passing for 75yards. Freshman running back DJ Oliver ran for 38 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown on 10 touches.
Transfer cornerback Beanie Bishop recorded WVU’s first interception of the season, picking off a deep Perrantes pass in the first quarter. Avery Wilcox grabbed WVU’s second interception in the fourth quarter.
Duquesne opened the game with momentum, recovering a punt that glanced off of WVU’s Jacolby Spells to set up a 38-yard touchdown throw from quarterback Darius Perrantes to DJ Powell. The Dukes kicked a 39-yard field goal four drives later but did not score again until Teddy Afful made a 16-yard touchdown reception late in the third quarter.
Saturday was the first of three straight home games for the Mountaineers, who will host rival Pitt next week for the first Backyard Brawl in Morgantown since 2011.