MORGANTOWN—In Coach Neal Brown and Oklahoma-turned-West Virginia QB Austin Kendall’s highly anticipated debuts, the West Virginia Mountaineers football team squeezed out a close 20-13 win against FCS foe James Madison.
WVU sputtered on offense for much of the first half, gaining only 18 rushing yards on 10 carries and tallying only 107 yards of total offense.
“The offense wasn’t pretty,” said WVU head football coach Neal Brown. “We struggled to run it.”
WVU finished the contest with only 34 yards rushing on 24 attempts. Senior Martell Pettaway was the leading rusher for the Mountaineers with 20 yards on 9 attempts.
“I was really proud of how this group reacted at halftime,” Brown said. “They didn’t hit the panic button.”
Redshirt junior QB Austin Kendall, however, saved the day for the Mountaineers, hitting on 27 of his 42 pass attempts for 260 yards and 2 TD’s with no interceptions.
“He was accurate at times,” Brown noted. “He missed some underneath throws late in the first half and got frustrated. I thought he played better in he second half. He checked some plays and threw the ball better. He handled the end-of-game situations well. We need to get better at the deep ball. He probably overthrew five go-balls.”
The leading targets for Kendall were receivers Tevin Bush, T.J. Simmons, and Sam James. Bush finished the game with 4 catches for 74 yards and a TD, Simmons tallied 5 catches for 58 yards, while James led all receivers with 6 receptions for 32 yards. All-in-all, nine WVU players were credited with at least one reception on the day.
For James Madison, quarterback Ben DiNucci threw for 156 yards while completing 13 of his 20 pass attempts. Solomon Vanhorse was the leading rusher for the Dukes, recording 55 yards on 12 attempts. He also scored the first touchdown in the contest, a 9-yard rush up the middle to give the Dukes a 6-0 lead.
“Winning’s hard, I knew it would be,” Brown finished by saying. “But we’ll take it. We’re 1-0.”