Smith leads No. 11 WVU over Marshall 69-34

Associated Press Modified: September 1, 2012 at 4:17 pm •  Published: September 1, 2012
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Whether it's the Orange Bowl or playing at home, No. 11 West Virginia is comfortable with scoring a point a minute.

Geno Smith threw for 323 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Mountaineers to a 69-34 win over Marshall on Saturday in the Mountaineers' highest-scoring opener.

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen will have plenty of things to tweak after the opener. Just not his quarterback's play.

Smith kept the momentum going from his six-TD performance from the Orange Bowl, when West Virginia beat Clemson 70-33.

The senior completed 32 of 36 passes without an interception and set a school record for career completions and touchdown passes before sitting out most of the fourth quarter.

"Really pleased with how Geno played," Holgorsen said. "He's done a great job of taking care of the ball, a great job of leading the team."

In the final scheduled game between the state's only Bowl Subdivision teams, West Virginia's points surpassed a 66-22 win over Richmond to start the 1958 opener.

The 103 total points easily were the most since the series with Marshall resumed in 2006.

The Mountaineers totaled 655 yards, more than any game last year, and got the production they sought from their running game.

"It's about as balanced as you can possible be," Holgorsen said. "We spread the ball around to a lot of people."

Shawne Alston ran for 123 yards and two scores. The Mountaineers compiled 331 yards on the ground against a Marshall defense that limited WVU to 42 a year ago.

"They weren't one-dimensional at all," said Marshall coach Doc Holliday. "They were able to run it. They were able to throw it. Unfortunately we didn't get them in the punt formation enough."

Smith had TD tosses of 32 and 5 yards to Stedman Bailey, 6 yards to Tavon Austin and 9 yards to J.D. Woods.

Bailey caught nine passes for 104 yards and Austin had 10 catches. His touchdown grab was set up by a 70-yard run around left end.

Smith now has 651 career completions and 60 TD passes. Marc Bulger held the old school marks of 630 completions and 59 TDs set from 1996-99.

Entering the second year of Holgorsen's system, "we understand our offense a lot better and we're more comfortable," Smith said. "We trust in one another and we know if we do that we can score and put up points."

But few people could have anticipated the back-to-back games the Mountaineers have had. With an offense that returned virtually intact from the Orange Bowl, West Virginia ran 101 offensive plays Saturday, had six scoring drives of less than two minutes and held a nearly six-minute advantage in possession time.