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West Virginia rolls overmatched Towson, 54-0, as Tigers fall to 0-2

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Clint Trickett's play brought back happy memories for Dana Holgorsen.

The senior quarterback threw for 348 yards and two touchdowns in less than three quarters and ran for a score in leading West Virginia to a 54-0 rout of Towson on Saturday night.

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"I made a comment to [offensive coordinator] Shannon [Dawson] in the second quarter, it was probably the first time since one of Geno's last games in 2012 when I felt like I could call plays and [Trickett] was going to make it work," said Holgorsen, the Mountaineers' fourth-year coach.

"I finally had that feeling again tonight."

Holgorsen was referring to Geno Smith, now the New York Jets' starting quarterback.

Trickett, who was one of three quarterbacks who tried to replace Smith last season when the Mountaineers went 4-8, played like him Saturday as he completed 35 of 40 passes.

Trickett likely would have surpassed his career high of 365 yards set a week earlier when West Virginia (1-1) lost to No. 2 Alabama in the season opener. However, he was removed from the game late in the third quarter with the Mountaineers leading by 40 points.

"He's playing great," West Virginia running back Rushel Shell said of Trickett. "He's awesome. We have all the confidence in the world in him."

Wide receiver Kevin White was Trickett's favorite target, catching 10 passes for 101 yards. Shell rushed for 71 yards on 14 carries and had four receptions for 47 yards.

West Virginia held a whopping 606-122 advantage in total yards while improving to 15-0 all-time against FCS schools and winning its 11th consecutive home opener at Milan Puskar Stadium.

Trickett downplayed his role in the win.

"It's just a product of our system," Trickett said. "We have so many good players in our offense. All I have to do is make sure we get the ball to them."

West Virginia posted its first shutout since beating Coastal Carolina 31-0 in the 2010 opener. Towson was also shut out for the first time since 2010, when it lost 48-0 to Delaware.

Towson's 11-game road winning streak, which dated to 2012, was broken. The Tigers (0-2) beat the only FBS team it played last season, winning at Connecticut, but West Virginia made sure there would be no upset this time.

"I'm disappointed about some aspects, especially in the second half," Towson coach Rob Ambrose said. "I asked the guys to play six seconds at a time. Tonight shone a light on guys that are willing to fight for their brothers. Some showed that the circumstances got too tough for them. We found out a lot about individuals on our team and also about who we will be in the future as a team."

After rushing for 105 yards in the season-opening loss to Central Connecticut State, Towson halfback Darius Victor was held to 27 yards on eight carries.

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Quarterback Connor Frazier rarely had time to throw and completed just seven of 17 passes for 60 yards. He was also called for intentionally grounding in the end zone in the third quarter, giving West Virginia a safety and a 40-0 lead.

Earlier in the quarter, Trickett threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to inside receiver Jordan Thompson.

Backup quarterback William Crest, a true freshman from Dunbar, had a 4-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and running back Andrew Buie scored on a 3-yard run. Buie finished with 70 yards on nine carries.

West Virginia took the opening kickoff and drove 68 yards in 13 plays for a touchdown with running back Wendell Smallwood scoring on a 1-yard run.

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The Mountaineers moved ahead 10-0 on kicker Josh Lambert's 20-yard field goal with 3:26 left in the first quarter.

Towson gambled on consecutive first-half possessions but turned the ball over on downs in West Virginia territory both times. An incomplete pass stalled the first drive and the second ended with an unsuccessful fake punt.

Nine plays after the fake punt, Shell scored on a 2-yard run with 9:04 left in the second quarter, making it 17-0.

The game turned into a blowout when wide receiver Mario Alford caught a 1-yard pass from Trickett, and Trickett scored on a 5-yard run a little less than two minutes later to put West Virginia ahead 31-0 with 1:06 remaining in the first half.

NOTES: Towson safety Christian Carpenter, an All-Colonial Athletic Association first-team selection last year, made his season debut after sitting out the opening loss to Central Connecticut State with concussion-related symptoms and was in on 12 tackles. ... West Virginia played its first home night opener since 2005, when it defeated Wofford then went on to win the Big East and beat Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. ... West Virginia plays at Maryland next Saturday while Towson visits Delaware State.

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