With all that talent, you wouldn't be surprised if the Tigers waltzed into Mountaineer Field and picked up a victory against the Blue and Gold. That wasn't the case though, as the Mountaineers got enough offense and plenty of defense to pull out a 14-8 victory.
Leading the way for West Virginia on the offensive side of the ball was Brandon "Mookie" Tate. The Mississippi native, who played in Wednesday's game as a tight end, lined up at the outside receiver position for the Blue and Gold on Thursday and hauled in two touchdown passes.
The first came with time winding down in the first half. Quarterback J.R. House scrambled around the pocket, and looked content to throw the ball away before Tate popped open in the back of the end zone. House floated the ball in Mookie's direction, and the big guy hauled in the pass in the corner of the end zone for the only score of the first half. He would later score on a 15-yard pass from Travis Trickett to complete WVU's scoring.
Throughout the first 24 minutes (12 minute quarters), the WVU offense showed the spread attack it employs on the varsity, but played to House's strength and threw the ball plenty. Tate and junior Travis McClintic both showed the ability to get open. House showed good recognition in the offense, and despite throwing an interception in the first quarter, looked comfortable and composed behind center for the Mountaineers. He only played the first half, giving way to Trickett and Markell Harrison in the final two quarters.
Also playing well for the offense was senior running back Arlen Dorsey. The transfer from Nassau Junior College ran hard and showed the ability to get positive yardage nearly every time he touched the ball.
Several players stood out on the defensive side of the ball. On the defensive line, redshirt freshman Doug Slavonic showed good strength in getting through Hargrave's line to disrupt running plays and get pressure on the quarterback. Linebackers Johnny Holmes and Reed Williams, both of whom are playing as true freshmen on the varsity, asserted themselves early and often for the Blue and Gold. Holmes used his size and speed to make plays both in coverage and in run support. Williams also made several plays from his mike linebacker spot.
Maybe the biggest surprise to casual observers was the play of cornerback Eric Turner, a walk-on from Weirton. Turner was very physical in run support, and showed the necessary speed and discipline when dropping into coverage. He delivered several big hits, one of which left him a tad woozy in the second quarter. After that particular hit, Turner was razzed by several teammates as he walked towards the sideline. In his absence, McClintic actually had to play a couple of snaps on defense.
Brinson played well at times for the Tigers. His speed is certainly one of his biggest strengths, and he also has the skills necessary to be an effective returner on punts and kickoffs. We'll have an exclusive interview with the WVU-bound defender coming up soon.
This will be the only junior varsity game for the Mountaineers in 2005, but they certainly made it count by pulling out the victory over a good Hargrave team.