Most expected the Pirates to come out on a mission to prove that they were not as bad as that week one score indicated. From the opening play, however, it was clear that this would not be the Pirates' day.
On the first play from scrimmage, East Carolina quarterback Desmond Robinson fumbled the snap and had to fight to land back on the ball. The opening miscue would be a sign of things to come as Robinson and company put the ball on the natural grass of Bagwell Field twice in the first quarter, but were able to get it back both times. On the first play of the second quarter, the Pirates' luck changed as West Virginia defensive end Jason Hardee fell on East Carolina tailback Kevin Fain's cough-up, the third ECU fumble of the evening, and gained possession on the West Virginia 48 yard line. The Blue and Gold quickly took advantage of the sloppy play and marched 52 yards in just 3:18 to take a 14-0 lead on a one-yard Quincy Wilson touchdown.
WVU had taken a 7-0 lead on Chris Henry's leaping grab of a 37 yard Rasheed Marshall pass with just 2:41 to go in the opening quarter. Henry provided WVU with the deep threat they have desperately been looking for.
Robinson's nightmare was not over yet. On the ensuing drive, the junior fumbled again and failed to move the ball against the Mountaineer defense. Paul Troth took over the reins of the Pirate offense with 6:40 left in the half as ECU head coach John Thompson searched for a way to keep the football in the hands of his offense. Troth quickly found another way to lose the pigskin and threw an interception into the hands of WVU linebacker Adam Lenhortt on his first attempt of the night. Again the Mountaineers capitalized, as Rasheed Marshall hooked up with Aaron Neal for a 17 yard scoring strike to make the score 21-0.
Aside from the ECU mistakes, the story of the first half was the ability of the West Virginia offense to dictate the play. The Pirates were clearly focused on stopping the Mountaineer rushing attack after giving up 370 yards on the ground Monday in Cincinnati. Defense coordinator Jerry Odom began by stacking the box with eight or nine defenders in order to slow down ‘Q' and the other Mountaineer backs.
The plan worked as the Blue and Gold found the running tough in the opening period. Rodriguez and staff made the Pirates pay, however, as Rasheed Marshall showed his ability to throw the football downfield. The junior signal-caller connected on 10 of 16 first half attempts for 162 yards and three touchdowns. Chris Henry, Aaron Neal, and Miquelle Henderson all found their way to paydirt in the opening half.
The WVU air attack succeeded in spreading out the Pirate defense, and then it was time for the ground attack to take control. With a little more room to run, Quincy began to show why he has been hyped as a possible All-Big East selection. The Weirton native carried the ball 16 times for 119 yards and a touchdown in the first half. The senior totaled 95 of those yards in the second quarter as the East Carolina defense focused more on the Mountaineers' aerial assault.
WVU capped their first half scoring on a twisting Miquelle Henderson catch and run of 30 yards. Only a 9.5 point favorite, West Virginia took a 27-0 lead into the lockerroom at halftime, as only a missed Brad Cooper extra point marred WVU's first half offensive effort.
Any hopes of a second half turnaround were quickly squashed. The Mountaineers' opening drive stalled and Todd James boomed a punt 49 yards to the ECU 19. Terrance Copper returned the kick to the 30 where the Pirates began their drive. After a Marvin Townes run for seven yards, the interception bug returned to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and Lance Frazier picked off a Desmond Robinson pass to give the Mountaineers possession on their own 44.
As was the case in the opening half, the Blue and Gold took full advantage of the turnover.
Chris Henry made a leaping grab of A 32-yard Rasheed Marshall pass to move West Virginia's lead to 34-0, and the rout was on. WVU added a rumbling six yard touchdown by Kay Jay Harris and a two yard burst by Jason Colson before East Carolina scored a meaningless touchdown with less than five minutes to go in the game, which left the final score at 48-7.
"They made some turnovers at some key times, and we took advantage of them," head coach Rich Rodriguez said after the game. "That was pretty much the story of the ball game."
WVU, now 1-1 overall, returns home to face Cincinnati next Saturday.