Saturday, August 31, 2013
West Virginia 24, William & Mary 17
By Jake Trotter
Take that, FCS.
A day after Kansas State fell to North Dakota State, West Virginia survived FCS opponent William & Mary 24-17 Saturday.
The Mountaineers trailed 17-7 at halftime, but controlled the field position in the second half, which spurred the comeback victory.
After forcing a three-and-out, West Virginia got the ball back at midfield six minutes into the fourth quarter. The Mountaineers kept the ball on the ground on seven of eight plays, and running backs Charles Sims, Dreamius Smith and Wendell Smallwood grinded out the game-winning touchdown drive. Darwin Cook picked off William & Mary on the next possession to seal the victory.
While West Virginia escaped with the win, the game exposed some problems for the Mountaineers moving forward. Until the final drive, the offensive line struggled to get a push against William & Mary, which went 2-9 in the FCS last season. Sims and Smith made tacklers miss, but too often, they had too many tacklers around them. Considering West Virginia will often have to outscore opponents to win, this is a troubling development.
Yet even in a lackluster performance, there were some bright spots. Paul Millard got better as the game wore on in his first start at quarterback. Late in the third quarter, he stood in the pocket and took a hit as he delivered a 69-yard touchdown strike over the top to Ronald Carswell. Millard finished 19 of 25 passing for 237 yards as he took a decided edge in the quarterback battle over Clint Trickett, who was ineffective in limited action.
The Mountaineers also have something in Sims, who will be shouldering the West Virginia playmaking in place of the departed Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.
He’ll need way more help up front, though, if West Virginia is to have any chance next weekend at Oklahoma.