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WVU Dazzles in D.C.

Mr. Smith throws for five TDs in Washington

September 16, 2012
By JOSEPH WHITE , The Associated Press

LANDOVER, Md. - West Virginia made an NFL stadium its home for a day and put up numbers that would be the envy of any pro offense, marching quickly to score on its first four possessions and piling up 569 yards Saturday in a 42-12 victory against James Madison.

Geno Smith set the school record for career yards passing, and Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin both had 100 yards receiving before halftime for the No. 9 Mountaineers (2-0), who improved to 13-0 all time against FCS schools.

Smith completed 34 of 39 passes for 411 yards and five touchdowns, putting his career tally at 8,191 yards and moving him past Marc Bulger (8,153) to the top of the WVU list.

Article Photos

West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith looks to pass during the first half of Saturday’s game against James Madison at FedEx Field. Smith surpassed Marc Bulger as the school’s passing yardage leader.

AP Photo

Bailey finished with 173 yards on 13 catches and three touchdowns, while Austin had 113 yards on 11 receptions and one score.

Playing at the Washington Redskins stadium - the Mountaineers need to maintain an East Coast profile for recruiting now that they've moved to the Big 12 - West Virginia used the occasion to honor school legend and former Redskins Hall of Fame linebacker Sam Huff, but this wasn't the brute, yardage-stingy type of game Huff likes.

Smith and the offense finessed their way down the field, working the no-huddle attack with creative tosses, slip screens and scrambles. It was a thing of beauty when Smith, with a rusher in his face, draped a pass onto Austin's shoulder for a 24-yard gain in the second quarter.

Most of the time, however, Smith found receivers so open that his passes became easy target practice, including his 4-yard touchdown throw to Dante Campbell for the redshirt freshman's first collegiate catch.

Still, there were a couple of moments in the second half that no doubt did Huff proud.

There remain many doubts about the Mountaineers' defense, but they stopped the Dukes on four running plays after a first-and-goal at the 3, and then converted another first-and-goal sequence into a turnover when Tyler Anderson picked off Justin Thorpe in the end zone.

Stedman's touchdown catches came in various shapes and sizes - a 9-yarder on a screen, a 3-yarder on a fade in which no one covered him, and a 30-yarder that Smith lobbed perfectly into a seam between two defensive backs down the sideline.

The Mountaineers have scored 181 points in their past three games - including 70 in last season's Orange Bowl and 69 in their opener against Marshall.

The Dukes (2-1), remembered for stunning then-No. 13 Virginia Tech two years ago, tried just about everything, but they were never in this one.

They got called for 12 men on the field twice on defense in the first quarter, and then successfully converted a fourth-and-1 at their own 34 on the first play of the second quarter - a ploy that managed to keep the Mountaineers offense off the field for a least a couple of extra minutes.

James Madison was also missing leading rusher Dae'Quan Scott, who injured an ankle last week. The Dukes' fans roared when their team finally forced West Virginia to punt late in the first half, and again when the Mountaineers' Shawne Alston was tackled for a safety in the third quarter - although it was a bittersweet consolation prize that came after the offense was stopped at the 1 on fourth down.

James Madison's only touchdown came in the game's final minute on Jauan Latney's 20-yard run.