Garrison lifts No. 22 WVU over Bowling Green

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 01, 2011
Freshman Dustin Garrison rushed for 291 yards and two touchdowns to lead No. 22 West Virginia to a 55-10 win over Bowling Green on Saturday. West Virginia's Geno Smith continued his solid season by throwing for three scores. But for the first time, the Mountaineers (4-1) found balance in their offense. No one saw this coming. West Virginia entered the game as one of the worst rushing teams in the FBS with 306 total yards. The Mountaineers compiled 360 yards on the ground Saturday. West Virginia held the Mid-American Conference's highest-scoring offense to 217 total yards. The Falcons (3-2) entered the game averaging 38.5 points. Bowling Green's Matt Schilz came to Morgantown tied for the FBS lead with 14 touchdown passes. He threw for an early score but lost a fumble and was intercepted three times, twice by Keith Tandy. Schilz finished 13 of 25 for 114 yards. He didn't have much help available. Bowling Green's leading rusher, Anthon Samuel, missed the game with an injured ankle, while Eugene Cooper, the team's leading receiver, sat out with an unspecified NCAA clearinghouse issue. The Mountaineers showed no signs of coasting between last week's draining home loss to LSU and the upcoming Big East opener with Connecticut. West Virginia's 643 total yards were the most in four years and the highest ever at its 31-year-old stadium. Garrison has emerged from a group of young running backs that had struggled to gain a foothold under first-year coach Dana Holgorsen. Garrison got his first start against LSU a week ago due to an injury to Andrew Buie and entered Saturday's game with 65 yards on 13 carries. With the offensive line opening huge holes that had been lacking in previous games, Garrison had 233 yards by halftime and set a freshman single-game school record. He scored on runs of 19 and 8 yards in a steady rain. His 291 yards tied for the second-highest total in school history. West Virginia overcame two early miscues on special teams by scoring on five consecutive first-half drives and seven straight spanning halftime. Garrison fumbled the ball inside the Bowling Green 10 late in the second quarter but West Virginia lineman Tyler Rader recovered. Smith found Brad Starks in the end zone on the next play for a 38-10 halftime lead. Smith completed 18 of 30 passes for 238 yards. His other scoring tosses were 33 yards to Ivan McCartney and 15 yards to Ryan Nehlen. It was the first career touchdown catch for the grandson of WVU Hall of Fame coach Don Nehlen. Smith was replaced by backup Paul Millard on West Virginia's first series of the fourth quarter. West Virginia's special teams were awful against and the problems continued early against Bowling Green. The Falcons' Jerry Gates fumbled away the opening kickoff that led to a West Virginia field goal, but he returned the ensuing kickoff 77 yards to setting up Schilz's 18-yard scoring toss to Ray Hutson. Cory Smith's 14-yard punt on West Virginia's next possession gave the Falcons the ball at the 50. Hutson took a reverse handoff and floated a pass toward a wide open Alex Bayer, but Tandy got there just in time to break it up in the end zone. The Falcons settled for a field goal and a 10-3 lead and didn't score again.
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