MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Jarret Doege threw three touchdown passes, Winston Wright returned a kickoff for another score and West Virginia beat Long Island 66-0 Saturday night.
The Mountaineers (1-1) bounced back from a dull effort last week at Maryland with 542 yards of offense against a Championship Subdivision team with back-to-back games looming against ranked opponents.
Leddie Brown and backup quarterback Garrett Greene each ran for two scores for West Virginia, which got TDs on seven of its first eight possessions.
It marked the most points scored by the Mountaineers since they beat Baylor 70-63 in 2012.
West Virginia coach Neal Brown complained a few weeks ago about how college teams don’t have the luxury that NFL and high school teams do in the preseason by scrimmaging other teams.
Saturday might have been the next closest thing.
“One thing I was proud of our team of, we played quality football,” Brown said. “It wasn’t sloppy.”
Doege threw scoring tosses of 39 yards to Sean Ryan and 18 and 15 yards to Sam James. James’ second TD catch came after Sean Martin recovered a fumble at the Long Island 21.
Wright, who had a school-record 217 yards in kickoff returns last week, made good on his only chance Saturday, returning the opening kick 90 yards for a touchdown.
West Virginia was methodical in its approach. While they were helped by several short punts, the Mountaineers had to work for some of their scores, needing 11 plays or more on three touchdown drives.
Doege converted a fourth-down pass to keep alive a 14-play drive in the first quarter, and Greene directed a 13-play TD drive in the second quarter, which included his 28-yard pass to Isaiah Eskdale on fourth down.
Before 50,911 fans, West Virginia’s defense limited Long Island (0-2) to 95 total yards after giving up 496 at Maryland last week. Attendance at WVU home games was severely restricted last season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“You just feel their energy, and it just gives you more energy,” said West Virginia defensive lineman Akheem Mesidor.
Long Island interim coach Jonathan Gill said it was difficult to prepare for the speed, size and physical play of a major-college opponent.
“You can practice any way you want,” Gill said, “but it’s like going to the major leagues.”
Long Island: The Sharks punted on 10 of their 13 possessions. The others resulted in a lost fumble, a botched field goal try and the end of the game.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers seemed to get plenty accomplished, including a confidence boost. But there is more to do on both the offensive and defensive lines, and Leddie Brown is averaging just 3 yards per carry through two games. And whether Greene gets more significant work the rest of the season remains to be seen.
Chris Gray, a backup quarterback at West Virginia from 1987 to 1991, was remembered in an end-zone tribute attended by his family at the end of the first quarter. Gray died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center in New York City.
Also honored in a scoreboard tribute were fallen New York City firefighters Durrell “Bronko” Pearsall and Keith Glascoe. Pearsall was an offensive linemen for LIU’s predecessor, C.W. Post, from 1988-91. Glascoe’s son, Owen Glascoe, is a junior wide receiver at Long Island and was one of the team’s captains Saturday.
Another brief scoreboard tribute honored the late coach Bobby Bowden, who had a 42-26 record at West Virginia from 1970-75 before leading Florida State to two national championships. Fans gave Bowden, who died last month at age 91, a standing ovation afterward.
THE KIDS CAN PLAY
Greene, who carried the ball just once in the past year, led West Virginia with 98 yards on 14 carries, including TD runs of 3 and 13 yards. Backup running backs Justin Johnson Jr., Tony Mathis Jr. and A’varius Sparrow also got their first carries of the season while third-string quarterback Will Crowder also saw some action.
Long Island plays its third straight game on the road to start the season when it travels next Saturday to Miami, Ohio.
West Virginia hosts No. 19 Virginia Tech next Saturday, followed by the Big 12 opener Sept. 25 at No. 2 Oklahoma.
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