Change is in the air today as West Virginia plays host to Towson in its annual matchup with an FCS program. The Mountaineers are 0-2 and following through on vows to rearrange the pieces that haven’t clicked so far.
According to the team’s two-deep, sophomore Sean Martin will start at defensive end over senior Taijh Alston. JMU transfer Wesley McCormick is the starting cornerback in place of preseason all-Big 12 pick Charles Woods, who had surgery this week but could be back on the field again this season.
Senior Exree Loe is listed as a possible starter at Will linebacker, but the other player in the “OR” arrangement is not Lance Dixon, who started the first two games at Will. Instead, the option in addition to Loe is North Dakota State transfer Jasir Cox, who started the first game at spear and had shared playing time with Davis Mallinger. Dixon and Mallinger are now possible starters at spear and, like Loe and Cox, joined by the “OR” designation.
The Mountaineers will also welcome Jordan White back after the redshirt freshman offensive lineman missed the Kansas game. White started at right guard against Pitt, which moved Doug Nester to right tackle. With White sidelined last week, Nester played right guard and Ja’Quay Hubbard started and Brandon Yates played at right tackle. White is listed as the starting right guard today and Nester as the starting right tackle. On his radio show Thursday, head coach Neal Brown said White would be available and that whether he started and how much he played had not yet been determined.
True freshman Jacolby Spells is listed as the backup to cornerback Rashad Ajayi. Redshirt freshman Andrew Wilson-Lamp is McCormick’s backup. Sophomore Malachai Ruffin, who started at cornerback last week when Woods was out and McCormick was suspended for the first half, is listed as Marcis Floyd’s backup at cat safety.
Middle linebacker Tirek Austin-Cave, a transfer from the University of Miami, is in uniform for the first time today. Defensive linemen Jalen Thornton, Hammond Russell and Zeiqui Lawton are and will miss a third straight game.
— Captains are Martin, JT Daniels, Zach Frazier and Graeson Malashevich. Towson wins the toss and defers. WVU will start with the ball.
— Hubbard starts at right tackle. Two tight ends to start.
— Tony Mathis runs for gains of 25, 12 and 6 yards to start.
— WVU picks up a first down to get in the red zone and goes with tempo. Daniels throws outside to Bryce Ford-Wheaton. It’s too far outside to catch. No matter. Daniels goes back to Ford-Wheaton and a cushion, and Ford-Wheaton makes a catch and breaks a tackle for a gain of 14. First-and-goal at the 2
— SCORE: Ball on the left hash, Kaden Prather 1-on-1 on the right side. Daniels throws it up for his receiver, and Prather makes the catch. WVU LEADS 7-0.
— First career touchdown for Prather, by the way.
— SCORE: D’Ago Hunter returns the kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. The only real threat to stop it was safety Hershey McLaurin, who whiffed, and kicker Parker Grothaus, who couldn’t get the Hunter on the ground. TIE GAME, 7-7.
D’AGO HUNTER TO THE HOUSE!!!!!!! THIS GAME IS TIED!!!!!!
??- https://t.co/9Npzgbfz8B#GohTigers | #UnitedWeRoar | #NCAAFCS | #SCTop10 pic.twitter.com/Qy8iegl6ca
—Towson Football (@Towson_FB) September 17, 2022
— Hunter had Towson’s last kickoff return touchdown in 2019. The last time WVU allowed one was to TCU’s Derius Davis last season.
— Interesting. WVU runs on third-and-1 at the 47 and CJ Donaldson doesn’t get it. On fourth-and-1, WVU runs with the freshman again and moves the sticks.
— Mathis is tackled for a big loss, and WVU is about to have third-and-16 (or so), but a facemask penalty on Damir Faison moves the ball to Towson’s 33. That’s the 10th time the opponent has given WVU a penalty this season, the second-highest total in the country.
— After a pass to Prather for a first down, Daniels is sacked for a loss of 6. Towson declines a penalty on Frazier. Mathis then gains 4 yards. On third down, Towson plays a very forgiving zone, and Daniels hits Prather for a gain of 21.
— SCORE: Mathis picks up his first score of the season — the second of his career and the first since 2020 — on a 3-yard run. WVU LEADS 14-7.
— WVU’s defense takes the field with Martin at defensive end, Dixon at spear and McLaurin in place of Burks at free safety.
— Three-and-out for the Mountaineers.
— SCORE: WVU’s sideline is dying to snap the ball and waving for Reese Smith to motion right to left. Donaldson takes a handoff, breaks a tackle and gets a cheeky block from Kaden Prather, who ran all the way across the field to cleanly erase two defenders, for an 82-yard touchdown. WVU LEADS 21-7.
— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) September 17, 2022
— Another three-and-out for the defense.
— This is evidently Justin Johnson’s series?
— Fourth-and-9 at the 32 and WVU will let the quarter run out before tipping its hand about punting or going for it.
— The 21 points in the first quarter match the second-highest total one of Neal Brown’s teams has scored in a quarter at WVU. Last year’s team scored 21 in the first and third quarters against LIU and the 2020 team had 21 in the second quarter against Kansas State. In the opener that season, WVU scored 28 in the second quarter against Eastern Kentucky.
— WVU goes for it, and Daniels hits Ford-Wheaton on a single out for 13 yards and a first down.
— After converting on third-and-7 with an in route, Ford-Wheaton outperforms the Towson cornerback in a 1-on-1 along the back line for what’s initially ruled a 3-yard score. The catch is reviewed and overturned.
— SCORE: On third-and-goal at the 3, Donaldson crashes through the line for another score. WVU LEADS 28-7.
— Three possessions, three three-and-outs for the defense. Towson has nine snaps and no first downs. WVU has 14 first downs.
— Towson cannot stonewall the WVU offense right now. The only negative play so far is the fisrt-quarter sack that WVU shook off before scoring.
— SCORE: Mathis is in again, this time from 2-yards out. WVU LEADS 35-7.
— Yet another three-and-out in what could be a perfect half for WVU. Taurus Simmons pressures Tyrrell Pigrome into the pocket, and Jordan Jefferson pounces for the sack.
— Under center, playaction, deep down the middle to Sam James for a gain of 51 yards. First-and-goal at the 9.
— SCORE: Incomplete assists bookend a Donaldson run for no gain, and Casey Legg hits a 26-yard field goal. WVU LEADS 38-7.
— With 2:15 left in the half, Towson has a first down on back-to-back completions. Pigrome was 2-for-5 before that.
— A second first down for Towson, but on third-and-10, Dante Stills works for a sack and 4-yard loss. With his next TFL, he’ll tie Grant Wiley’s school record of 47.5.
— On fourth-and-14, Towson goes deep and misses. Turnover on downs at the Towson 49.
— Garrett Greene takes over with 1:11 to go in the half.
— Quarterback draw from the shotgun on third-and-4 is a 39-yard gain. First-and-goal at the 4.
— WVU calls a timeout with 9 seconds left and facing a fourth-and-goal.
— WVU calls a second timeout with 9 seconds left and facing a fourth-and-goal.
— SCORE: Donaldson is in for the third time. WVU LEADS 45-7.
— That’s the half.
WVU is rolling at the half.
?? https://t.co/nTlMx0b1kh pic.twitter.com/GkmxxRiWEm
— Mike Casazza (@mikecasazza) September 17, 2022
— Towson gets the ball to start the second half, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s a three-and-out.
— Greene remains in the game, and on fourth-and-1 at the 26, WVU stays on the field and lets Tony Mathis pick up the fist down.
— Offensive line has Brandon Yates at left tackle, Tomas Rimac at left guard, Nester at center, Dylan Ray at right guard and Hubbard at right tackle.
— Greene has Cortez Braham wide the heck open on the left side, but the ball is too long and Braham can’t make an acrobatic catch.
— Greene’s first career touchdown will have to wait …
— SCORE: Greene scoots into the end zone from 11 yards out, the fifth rushing touchdown of his career. A second delay of game penalty on this possession pulls Grothaus back 5 yards, and he misses the extra point. WVU LEADS 51-7.
— Towson finally moving the ball, though against a second-team unit for the Mountaineers. Goal possession has crossed midfield.
— TURNOVER: New quarterback Scott Smith runs up the middle. Alston strips the ball free and Caden Biser recovers at the 32. Touch drive for Smith. He was 0-for-4 before the turnover.
— Will Crowder is the new quarterback for the Mountaineers.
— The quarter begins with WVU facing fourth-and-1 at the 37. Jaylen Anderson makes his debut and picks up the first down.
— Crowder is getting some action. Running read plays. Getting out of sacks and gaining yardage. Throwing sharp outs off of fakes. This isn’t standard handoff duty.
— Nifty connection between Crowder and Smith, and the 30-yard play makes it first-and-goal inside the 1.
— West Virginia Football (@WVUfootball) September 17, 2022
— SCORE: Anderson is stuffed and a false start penalty pulls the offense back, but Crowder connects with Jeremiah Aaron for a 5-yard touchdown pass. Grothaus makes the PAT. WVU LEADS 58-7.
— Crowder was 6-for-6 for 57 yards. Nicco Marchiol makes his debut.
— Jarel Williams debuts, and the freshman drops the first pass to come his way.
— SCORE: Preston Fox, who just thrilled with a 27-yard punt return and caught Marchiols’ first career pass, is the target in the back of the end zone for a 26-yard scoring pass from Marchiol. WVU LEADS 65-7.
4Q 4:42 | WVU 65 TOW 7 pic.twitter.com/xpQUm9nHho
— West Virginia Football (@WVUfootball) September 17, 2022
— That’s a wrap. WVU plays on the road Thursday against Virginia Tech, which won its game against an FCS foe Saturday. The Hokies defeated Wofford 27-7.