On an unseasonably wet and chilly fall day, the Mountaineers kicked off the 2018 home season against the Penguins of Youngstown State. Rain fell heavily the entirety of the game on the 58,446 fans in attendance.
The Mountaineers started slow, as they did last week. Their opening drive was stalled when Will Lantham’s of Youngstown State picked off Will Grier’s third down pass. Late in the first quarter, Alec Sinkfield would get the Old Gold and Blue on the scoreboard with a nine yard burst to the pylon. Sadly, Sinkfield would be carted off the field with an ankle injury late in the first half; his exact status moving forward is unknown.
WVU had an exceptionally strong day on the ground as Youngstown State stacked their defense heavily to stop Will Grier and the passing attack. The Mountaineers were able to amass 289 on the ground, which was a great improvement from the 118 against Tennessee. The running game was led by true Freshman, Leddie Brown, who went for 115 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown. Martell Pettaway and Kennedy McKoy added strong performances with 77 and 76 yards each.
Grier had another impressive performance through the air after the early interception. He finished the day 21-26 for 322 yards, four touchdowns and that one interception.
The receiving court was led by Gary Jennings and Marcus Simms. Jennings caught six passes for 97 yards and three touchdowns, while Marcus Simms hauled in eight passes for 118 yards. David Sills V, heavily blanketed by defenders all game, was held to three targets, that led to two catches, for 33 yards. Grier narrowly missed Sills for a long touchdown that was just out of reach for the Senior receiver.
Youngstown State’s offense was able to amass 293 yards of total offense that mostly came through large plays, but struggled to convert those yards into points. Defensively, the Mountaineers were led by David Long who finished with ten total tackles and two tackles for loss. Dravon Askew-Henry’s third quarter interception was WVU’s first defensive takeaway of the season. Similar to the Tennessee game, tackles for loss were key to keeping the opponent off the score board. West Virginia netted nine tackles for loss during the game.
Charlie Benton, a strong side linebacker, was lost with a season ending knee injury last week. Defensive coordinator, Tony Gibson, moved reserve safety, JoVanni Stewart, to fill the void. The Katy, Texas native had a strong performance in his new position this week with two tackles, a tackle for loss and two quarterback hurries.
Cover Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose, BGS