MORGANTOWN — Quarterback Garrett Greene accounted for 364 total yards and four touchdowns and Jahiem White had 279 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns as West Virginia’s offense was dominant in a 42-21 victory over Cincinnati Saturday afternoon at Milan Puskar Stadium.
In the first meeting between former Big East foes since 2011, the Mountaineers (7-4, 5-3 Big 12) took control of the game early and ran away with it late.
The WVU offense put up 634 total yards, including 424 rushing yards, and averaged 9.8 yards per play.
“Really just a dominant performance,” WVU head coach Neal Brown said. “The stats speak for themselves.”
After missing a 52-yard field goal on the first possession of the game, West Virginia took advantage of conservative game management by Cincinnati (3-8, 1-7) to build a sizeable first-half lead.
After Greene scored his first touchdown of the game on a three-yard run, Cincinnati twice chose to punt when faced with fourth-and-short around midfield. The Mountaineers converted those opportunities into two more scores, a 75-yard pass to White and a 13-yard run by CJ Donaldson, and led 21-0 midway through the second quarter.
Cincinnati’s offense finally showed some life just before halftime when backup quarterback Brady Lichtenberg led a 75-yard touchdown drive that ended on primary quarterback Emory Jones’s quarterback sneak from one yard out.
WVU’s offense couldn’t be stopped all game, however, as Greene led another touchdown drive despite having no timeouts with just 1:32 before halftime.
“I told (Greene) we’re going to be aggressive, but we’re going to be smart,” Brown said. “That drive was mostly him. He threw two really nice passes to Kole (Taylor) and has had some really positive runs.
In just four plays, WVU scored again on a 26-yard scramble by Greene to go up 28-7 at halftime.
Two more scores, an 18-yard run by Greene and a four-yard run by White, boosted WVU’s lead to 42-7 entering the fourth quarter.
Cincinnati scored twice in the final frame after the game had already been decided to come to the 42-21 final score.
The Bearcats entered the game averaging 223.3 rushing yards per game but were held to 153 against West Virginia.
“We didn’t play anywhere near our best a week ago,” Brown said of his defense. “For us to come out and really for three quarters dominant the game, I think that speaks to them.”
White, a freshman, got the start at running back as Donaldson, the usual starter, took on a smaller role while dealing with an injury. White continued to impress, running for 204 yards on 21 carries. He had 279 all-purpose yards with a pair of touchdowns.
“I’ve been waiting to actually show my talent,” White said. “For me to actually start (Saturday), was a big jump for me and I just wanted to show the world my talent.”
Donaldson had 20 yards on five carries and scored a touchdown for the ninth game in a row.
West Virginia finishes its 2023 home schedule with a 5-1 record at Milan Puskar Stadium. A dozen players were recognized prior to the game during a Senior Day ceremony, including starting center Zach Frazier, linebacker Lee Kpogba and cornerback Beanie Bishop Jr.
Don Nehlen, the winningest coach in WVU history, was honored after the first quarter as his name was added to the Diversified Energy Terrace alongside WVU’s six retired numbers.
“I think it was only fitting that his first game as a head coach at West Virginia was against Cincinnati and then he gets immortalized in the stadium in a game we win convincingly versus Cincinnati,” Brown said of Nehlen. “We had a little bit of extra pressure on us to win (Saturday) with him getting honors, but I’m glad we could get it done…I’m just glad he got to enjoy that.”
WVU will close out the regular season with a game at Baylor next Saturday.