Game 1 - September 5, 2015 - vs Georgia Southern Eagles
In 2015, West Virginia scheduled three out of conference games. One against rival Maryland, one against FCS opponent Liberty and one against still wet behind the ears Georgia Southern Eagles. Georgia Southern made the leap from FCS to FBS in 2014, where they finished 9-3 and first in the Sun Belt conference.
Entering 2015, the Eagles expected to again compete for bowl eligibility and a conference title under head coach Willie Fritz and his extremely unconventional offense. Using a read-zone, spread, triple-option rushing attack, the Eagles were one of the top rushing teams in 2014 and expected to be again behind quarterback Favian Upshaw and Kevin Ellis along with running back Matt Breida.
Out of the three non conference games scheduled for 2015, the Mountaineers shutout of Georgia Southern was the most impressive. The Mountaineers pitched their second shutout under Defensive Coordinator Tony Gibson. GSU, despite being shutout by the Mountaineers, averaged 36 points per game. Excluding the game against the Mountaineers, the Eagles averaged over 39 points per game.
Top Ten Plays of 2015
Top Ten Plays of 2015
The Mountaineers came out hot against the Eagles, with Skyler Howard connecting with Jovon Durante on a 41-yard strike for Durante's first collegiate touchdown. The Mountaineers would struggle throughout the half, generating only 9 more points off of three Josh Lambert field goals to take a 16-0 halftime lead.
Entering the third quarter, senior safety Karl Joseph took over and gave Eagles' quarterback Fabian Upshaw nightmares by picking off two passes in the span of 5 plays. Karl would end up with three interceptions before the quarter ended.
The offense on the other hand finally found their groove. Skyler and company would go three-and-out on the first possession of the second half but then scored touchdowns on their next four possessions before the end of the game.
This game was an unknown for everyone. How good exactly was Georgia Southern? How good was WVU? Would the unique offense of GSU give the defense fits? Would the Mountaineers be able to score against a undersized but speedy GSU defense?
The Mountaineers got lucky in this game as a few times GSU made mental mistakes like not cutting inside when they should. Or throwing behind the receiver which led to a Karl Joseph interception. Other times Georgia Southern fell down when the lane was wide open and would have resulted in a large gain. No one needs to apologize as the Mountaineers were the better team in this game and it showed.
The fact that the Mountaineers held a tricky opponent scoreless, Karl Joseph intercepted three passes in one quarter and Jovon Durante score a touchdown on his first collegiate receptions is enough for me to list this as our #5 game of 2015.
Relieve the game and check out the box score here. The full game video can be found here. Check below for highlights from the game.