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West Virginia Defense Smothers Missouri 26-11

Questions all spring arose about how the WVU defense would fare after losing 9 starters. One game in and the answer looks like “just fine”

Football is back in Morgantown! The Mountaineers took on the Missouri Tigers in the first game of the season with plenty of questions to answer on both sides of the field. After winning 26-11 some questions were answered while others still remain.

West Virginia got on the board first following an 11 play, 60 yard drive behind a 19-yard field goal by "temporary" kicker Mike Molina. Following the third Missouri punt of the day, Rushel Shell scored the first touchdown of the season on a 23-yard rumble.

The inexperienced defense did not look inexperienced against the inept Missouri offense. The defense forced four straight punts before Christian Brown recovered an Adam Shuler forced fumble by running back Damarea Crockett.

Skyler Howard was injured late in the first half as he attempted to slide. William Crest came on in relief following Howard’s injury and fumbled the ball as he attempted to pass. Missouri would recover at the West Virginia 7 but failed to gain a yard as Tony Gibson’s defense stiffened up. Missour kicker Tucker McCann would miss his first of two field goals on the afternoon.

Following the Crest fumble, Chris Chuganov came out to lead the offense. After Rushel Shell ran for 7 yards, "Chugs" dropped back and delivered ball to the middle of the field that was immediately picked off by Missouri safety Athony Sherrils. West Virginia would head to halftime up 13-3.

Getting the ball in the second half, Dana Holgorsen and company proved they could make adjustments. The Mountaineers opened the third quarter with a 8-play, 70 yard drive that ended with Justin Crawford scoring from one yard out. It was Crawford’s first touchdown as a Mountaineer and would put West Virginia up 20-3.

The defense would cruise from there. Missouri was unable to generate any real offense until late in the fourth quarter when the backups were in. Missouri would score a late 4th quarter touchdown to make the score 26-11 but the Mountaineers were always in control of this game.

JUCO transfer Justin Crawford led the Mountaineers with 101 yards on 21 carries while Rushel Shell added 90 yards on 16 carries. Overall, Skyler Howard was 23-of-35 for 253 yards and an interception. Daikel Shorts led all receivers with 8 catches and 131 yards. You can find the full boxscore here.

Notes: Olympic medalist Ginny Thrasher (rifle), Ashley Lawrence (soccer) and Kaideshia Buchanan (soccer) were honored at halftime. Today’s Gold Rush game attendance was officially announced at 60,125. The Mountaineers are now 8-2 in Gold Rush games following today’s win.