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West Virginia 24, William & Mary 17: A Win Is A Win

Despite a sputtering offense and a suspect defense, WVU beats William & Mary on the strength of Charles Sims' legs and Nick O'Toole's foot.

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

It was far from the effort we'd all hoped to see, but WVU avoided the unthinkable with a 24-17 win over the FCS William and Mary Tribe to open the season in Morgantown.

The Mountaineers were unable to get the ground game rolling the way they wanted to until late in the game but got the yards when it mattered. After driving down the field without problem on their first possession, the WVU offense promptly stalled, tallying just a single yard in the second quarter as the 'eers fell behind 14-7.

The deficit grew to 10 at the half before the Mountaineeres rallied in the third quarter and tied it up with a field goal and 69 yard TD catch by Ronald Carswell from Paul Millard. Things picked up in the fourth and the turning point was punter Nick O'Toole's booming kick from his own end zone that flipped the field as the WVU offense was unable to escape their own 10 yard line. William & Mary then lost yardage on three plays and when WVU got the ball back they were on the 50. Eight plays later Wendell Smallwood provided the winning points with a hard-fought 2 yard touchdown run.

Round one of the quarterback battle seems to have gone to Millard, but he was far from impressive, finishing 19/25 for 238 yards, 1 TD and 1 fumble. Trickett failed to complete a pass in two series.

Charles Sims on the other hand was everything promised and more with 120 yards on 23 carries. He didn't break off any long runs, but kept drives moving as he was continually able to churn out 6 or 7 yard runs.

That effort aside, O'Toole might have been the MVP as his five punts averaged 50.6 yards - the longest was 60. He continually bailed out the anemic offense and could prove an invaluable tool this year (pun intended).

WVU is 1-0 and that's all that matters, but it's hard to feel terribly confident with a trip to Norman to play Oklahoma looming in 7 short days.

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