Crystal Ball 2005 - Wofford

This week's edition of the Crystal Ball Series takes you to the first home game of the season agains Wofford.

MORGANTOWN, W. VA. – On a sun-drenched afternoon in front of 54,118 fans, West Virginia scored eight touchdowns – four rushing and four passing – in defeating Division 1-AA Wofford 56-17 Saturday. The Mountaineer offense totaled 632 yards – 333 rushing and 299 passing – while limiting the visiting Terriers to a total of 245 yards. The Mountaineer defense recorded two interceptions on the day while three WVU quarterbacks combined to complete 22 of 36 passes with no interceptions. Freshman sensation Jason Gwaltney recorded two of West Virginia's four rushing touchdowns while amassing 121 yards on just 11 carries – an average of 11 yards per carry. The bright spot on the day for Wofford – the smallest school fielding a Division 1 team – was the Terriers' special teams, which recorded a touchdown on a kick-off return.

West Virginia scored on its first possession of the home opener after stopping Wofford on three downs to start the game. After receiving the Wofford punt, starting quarterback Adam Bednarik led WVU on an eight-play, 69-yard touchdown drive. Highlights were pass completions to Rayshawn Bolden for 21 yards, Brandon Myles for 14 yards and Dewayne Thompson for 18 yards. The Thompson catch set up a first and goal at the Wofford two-yard line, and from that point fullback Owen Schmitt scored his first touchdown as a Mountaineer for a 7-0 WVU lead at the 8:55 mark of the opening quarter.

Wofford immediately answered WVU's touchdown with some excitement of its own. Terrier kick returner Kevious Johnson took Colby James' kick-off at the three-yard line and, following a wedge of blockers down the WVU sideline, eluded James near the West Virginia 30 for a 97-yard touchdown return. The extra point tied the game at 7-7 with 9:11 left in the first quarter and gave the Terriers brief hope of pulling off the upset.

The Mountaineers responded with a 70-yard march, featuring several long runs by Gwaltney, culminating in the true freshman's six-yard burst over the left side for his second touchdown in as many games. The extra point by Pat McAfee gave WVU a 14-7 lead with 5:02 remaining in the first quarter – a lead that the Mountaineers would not relinquish.

After stopping the Terriers on three downs, WVU took over on its own 38 and quickly drove for its third touchdown. Mixing pass completions to freshman Ryan Dawson for 18, Vaughn Rivers for 15 and Josh Bailey for 10 yards with runs by Jason Colson and Pernell Williams, the Mountaineers moved to the five-yard line, where Bednarik lofted a flat pass toward the WVU sideline. Colson hauled in the feathery toss in stride, then bowled over Terriers linebacker Kyle Horne on his way into the end zone for a 21-7 WVU lead with 12:42 left in the second stanza.

At that point, things turned really ugly for the visitors. Following the kick-off, WVU spur Mike Lorello stepped in front of a Josh Collier pass intended for Wofford wideout Brandon Berry at the Terriers' 39-yard line and returned the interception to the Wofford 16. Two plays later, Gwaltney scored the second of his two touchdowns on the day on a burst up the middle from the 11. With the extra point WVU's lead grew to 28-7 with 9:32 left in the first half.

Following the kick-off the Terriers engineered their second score of the game. Starting at their own 22-yard line, Collier directed Wofford's option offense on its best possession of the day, gaining 21 yards on the march via keepers. Junior running back Kevious Johnson picked up 22 of his 64 rushing yards on the day during the drive and Collier completed key third down passes to wideouts Matt Beavin and Brandon Berry to keep the drive alive. The march stalled at the WVU 19-yard line and junior placekicker Nick Robinson came on to boot a 36-yard field goal, trimming WVU's lead to 28-10 with 3:43 remaining before the half.

The WVU offense wasn't content to run out the clock, as the Mountaineers came out firing. From the 36-yard line, Bednarik completed passes to Thompson for 9 yards, Myles for 17 and tight end Josh Bailey for 12, which moved the ball to the Wofford 21. Bednarik then hit Bolden, who made a leaping catch along the back line of the end zone, for a 35-10 WVU lead with 1:12 left before intermission. Wofford then ran out the clock to conclude the first half of action.

For the half, the Mountaineers accumulated 281 yards of total offense to Wofford's 113, with Bednarik completing 11 of 16 pass attempts for 164 yards.

Having deferred to Wofford to start the game WVU received the second half kick-off and quickly scored again. Following a 51-yard Antonio Lewis kick-off return to the Wofford 42, Bednarik immediately went to the air. After a short completion to Joe Hunter, Bednarik lofted a long toss down the Wofford sideline on a fly pattern that was hauled in by Bolden at the 5-yard line. Bolden tumbled over late-arriving Wofford safety Dan Tavani into the end zone for a 42-10 WVU lead.

The teams then traded possessions before Bednarik led the WVU offense on his final series of the game. With Colson and Williams leading the way and Bednarik showing some nifty footwork himself on a scramble for 12 yards, the sophomore signal caller led the Mountaineers on a ten play, 61-yard touchdown drive, culminated by Colson's two-yard plunge over the right side of the WVU line. The seventh touchdown of the day swelled the Mountaineers' lead to 49-10 with 4:10 remaining in the third quarter. That lead proved enough for even Mountaineer head coach Rich Rodriguez to begin substituting freely, and numerous Mountaineer second and third teamers began hitting the field for action.

The teams then traded possessions before Patrick White directed the WVU offense to its final touchdown of the day. Mixing passes and running for 26 yards himself, White led West Virginia on an eleven play, 78-yard drive. The march was capped by White's first touchdown pass as a Mountaineer, a six-yard strike to a diving Myles in the middle of the end zone. The extra point provided West Virginia's final score of the day. The final WVU possession of the day, following an interception by Jahmile Addae, saw the debut of former Nitro (W. Va.) High School standout J. R. House at quarterback. House, the former national record setting quarterback who played professional baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization before his baseball career was curtailed by injuries, completed one of two passes for 17 yards.

A late Wofford touchdown pass by Terrier reserve quarterback Dane Romero to back-up wideout Colby Harris provided the final points in the 56-17 West Virginia rout.

"We knew they'd come in here and give us a fight," said WVU head coach Rich Rodriguez of the Terriers. "Coach Ayers is an intense guy and his team reflected that today. They played real hard and never stopped hustling at any point in the game, even when the score got a little out of hand, which any coach likes to see. They're a good team and they'll win a lot of games this year."

"We were just a little overwhelmed today, talent-wise," said Ayers, Wofford's all-time winningest coach in his 18th season at the school. "We knew we'd have to play perfect football to have a chance to win and we didn't do that today. But we learned a lot playing here today and we'll use those lessons to improve."

"We still made a lot of mistakes today and we have some things to correct," continued Rodriguez after the game. "We'll look at the film and see things a little more clearly, but we're still seeing missed assignments, routes being cut short – those sorts of things. We can't keep doing those things and expect to win many football games.

"I thought Adam did a great job today, not just throwing the ball but leading the team. He's got a long way to go to get comfortable out there but he'll get there. I thought Patrick did a good job, too. It was good to see J. R. get out there, too. We've got a lot of confidence in our young quarterbacks and this game will help them a lot.

"Our defense played exceptionally well. We were a little worried about their option coming in because we don't face it that much, but Jeff [Casteel, WVU defensive coordinator] had his guys ready to play and they got the job done."

Lorello led the Mountaineer defense with twelve tackles while Johnny Dingle, Pat Liebig, Craig Wilson and Warren Young all recorded sacks.

The Mountaineers return to action next Saturday by facing cross-sectional rival Maryland on the road at College Park. The game has been moved to a 6:08 pm ET kick-off to accommodate television coverage by ESPN2.

PASSING – WVA – Bednarik 14-22-201-3-0 White 7-12-81-1-0 House 1-2-17-0-0 WOF Collier 9-16-73-0-2 Romero 4-10-31-1-0 13-26-104-1-2

RUSHING – WVA – Colson 8-68-1 Williams 6-41 Gwaltney 11-121-2 Phillips 5-23 Schmitt 4-24-1 Bednarik 3-20 White 3-24 House 1-2 WOF – Johnson 15-64 Jackson 7-51 Wood 4-19 Berry 1-36 Collier 4-(-29) Romero 2-0

RECEIVING – WVA – Bolden 5-98-2 Myles 3-47-1 Rivers 2-27 Dawson 1-18 Thompson 2-21 Tate 1-12 Colson 2-19-1 Williams 1-8 Phillips 1-10 Gwaltney 1-13 Schmitt 1-5 Bailey 2-22 WOF Berry 3-22 Beavin 2-18 Strickland 3-34 Harris 2-19-1 Garland 2-15 Johnson 1-(-4)

DISCLAIMER: The contents of this article are intended for entertainment purposes only. No criticism, direct or implied, is intended. The author assumes no responsibility for any errors or inconsistencies and has produced the series strictly for the enjoyment of Mountaineer football fans during the agonizing summer months without WVU football.

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