Grier Throws Five Touchdowns in Win

West Virginia's Will Grier (7) looks to pass against Tennessee in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — First impressions usually are the most lasting ones. Just ask first-year University of Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt.

“Yeah, to answer your question, he (WVU’s Will Grier is pretty good. The thing I was most impressed with was he let the game come to him.

“In the first half we were able to control the ball a little and keep him off the field. But, when he got the chances, he made the most of them.”

Grier, completed 25 of 34 attempts for 429 yards and five touchdowns as No. 17 West Virginia (1-0) left Bank of America Stadium with a 40-14 victory over the Volunteers in the first meeting between the two schools.

“Those guys (West Virginia) got better as the game went on,” Pruitt said. “Our guys fought hard in the first half, but that guy (Grier) made some throws and they (WVU’s receivers) made some catches and things just got away from us in the second half.”

The game was delayed for 65 minutes following a first half which witnessed the Mountaineers score on their first two drives and their final drive to take a 13-7 lead into the intermission.

“We actually talked about that (the lightning delay),” WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said. “We weren’t prepared for that eight years ago when it happened against Marshall in our opener. We were prepared (Saturday).”

And, it looked it as WVU, which opens its home slate of games at 6 p.m. next Saturday when the Penguins from Youngstown State come to Mountaineer Field, scored on its first two possessions and never looked back in handing Pruitt his first loss as the leader of the Vols.

“To me the most important thing is how your team plays,” Pruitt said. “And, their team played better so they are better coached.”

Eleven different players caught passes from Grier — senior David Sills V led the way with seven for 140 yards and a pair of touchdowns — while the running game accounted for 118 yards as Martell Pettaway led the way with 56 yards on nine carries.

Defensively, the Mountaineers had one of its better days as Tony Gibson’s gang came away with 12 tackles for loss and one sack while giving up 14 points.

“You know, I felt pretty good after we were able to put together that 18-play drive there in the second quarter,” Pruitt said. “But, he (Gibson) did a great job at the half making adjustments and we just weren’t able to maintain any kind of consistency the rest of the game.”

Junior David Long Jr. and sophomore Kenny Robinson Jr. led the way with nine stops each as the defense held UT to 301 total yards.

It was the ‘best of WVU and the ‘worst’ of WVU during the first 30 minutes against the Volunteers.

The Mountaineer defense dominated the line of scrimmage, limiting UT and Pruitt to zero points and 27 total yards enroute to a 10-0 lead after the first 15 minutes.

Then came the second quarter.

An 18-play, 78-yard drive allowed Tennessee to get on the board while Grier and Company were forced to sit on the sideline.

Grier was able to put together one more scoring drive before the intermission, taking the Mountaineer on a 5-play, 30-yard drive which culminated with a 35-yard field goal from Staley on the half’s final play.

It was Mother Nature’s turn to put a damper on the season opener for both programs as lightning strikes in the area forced the teams to remain in the locker rooms and the fans under the concourse.

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