No. 11 West Virginia routs Marshall 69-34

By Nick Arthur

The Daily Athenaeum, West Virginia U. via UWIRE

As the 2012 season began for the West Virginia football team, fresh in the minds of the Mountaineers was the 70-point offensive explosion in the Orange Bowl.

And, Saturday afternoon, senior quarterback Geno Smith threw for 323 yards and four touchdowns, as No. 11 West Virginia picked up where it left off in January with a 69-34 beat down of in-state rival Marshall.

The home team took a 34-10 advantage into the locker room and never looked back.

The Mountaineer offense scored a touchdown on six of its first seven possessions and was dominant from start to finish.

“I’m really pleased with how (senior quarterback) Geno (Smith) played,” said West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen. “He’s done a great job of leading the team, leading the offenses and taking care of the football.”

Smith, the Big 12 Conference preseason Offensive Player of the Year, completed 33 of his 37 pass attempts and added a 28-yard touchdown run.

“The stats kind of deceive me. They’re all good, don’t get me wrong,” Smith said. “But, overall I think I did a good job at making good decisions and being smart with my reads.”

Senior running back Shawne Alston also had an impressive afternoon. He was hampered with injuries a year ago, but is healthy to begin the season, and it showed.

Alston carried the ball 16 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Marshall defenders struggled all afternoon to bring down the power back.

“It’s nice to have a guy like Shawne Alston, who’s hard to tackle,” Holgorsen said. “(It’s great) to have a guy like that with a bunch of offensive linemen that are able to establish the line of scrimmage.”

Alston was just pleased his coach gave him the opportunity.

“I always try to run with a purpose,” he said. “They just kept feeding it to me, and I kept producing.”

Alston and fellow running back Andrew Buie helped balance an offense that was expected to be pass-oriented. The Mountaineers were able to record 314 rushing yards and 341 passing yards.

The 655 total yards were the most for West Virginia in a game since 1923.

“It’s about as balanced as you can possibly be … We spread the ball around to a lot of people,” Holgorsen said. “The balance standpoint is more important to me. If we’re running the ball and we’re not getting any yards then we’ll start throwing the ball more and that’s what this offense is able to do.”

Junior wide receiver Stedman Bailey led the Mountaineers with 104 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

Explosive senior wide receiver Tavon Austin chipped in a receiving touchdown, as well.

Marshall’s sophomore quarterback Rakeem Cato completed 38-54 passes for 413 yards and two touchdowns.

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