Freshman Garrison rushes for 291 yards, 2 TDs in WVU win
October 2, 2011 4:00 AM
Tyler Evert/Associated Press
West Virginia's Dustin Garrison, right, fends off Bowling Green's Aaron Foster. Garrison finished the Mountaineers' 55-10 victory in Morgantown, W.Va., with 291 yards rushing.
By Jenn Menendez Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia just might have found its running back.
Dustin Garrison broke loose Saturday for the Mountaineers, just like it was a Friday night in Texas.
Garrison rushed for 291 yards, scored two touchdowns, and helped the offense amass 643 yards on the way to a 55-10 rout against Bowling Green.
For a team whose calling card has been the passing game this season, his performance was a strong sign the offense will have more dimension when West Virginia (4-1) begins Big East Conference play next week.
"I think we found a running back," said coach Dana Holgorsen. "He was hitting it. ... If you look at 16 games on his high school film last year, it's like that. He's used to 200-yard games. The more you give it to him and the more he plays, the better he gets."
That said, Holgorsen pointed out Garrison is not "the guy forever" and will have to continue to compete for carries, even though he finished 46 yards shy of the best rushing performance in school history.
Shawne Alston rushed for another 49 yards and scored on 8-yard touchdown runs in the first and fourth quarters.
"I got my chance," said Garrison, who said he had no idea how many yards he was amassing until late in the game. "I can't really explain it. It's just there. I didn't even know I made a cut at one point. It's instincts."
The running game seemed headed for a record-breaking day as Garrison amassed 233 rushing yards by halftime, setting the school's one-half record.
He was averaging 9.7 yards a carry and chewing up yardage.
"He was making cuts no one's ever seen before," said offensive lineman Joe Madsen. "He made a lot of moves that surprised me. It makes it easier to block because he's going to lead the guy and cut."
It was a positive day on offense, defense and special teams.
Quarterback Geno Smith threw for three touchdowns and completed 18 of 30 passes for 238 yards.
The defense held Bowling Green to 217 yards, and no scoring drives after the first quarter.
Keith Tandy had two interceptions and Terence Garvin added a third just before the half.
The special teams rebounded after giving up a 77-yard return in the first quarter that ended in a touchdown for the Falcons one play later.
"I told them downstairs, don't ever take a victory for granted. We earned this one," said Holgorsen. "Bouncing back from last week's disappointing loss, we were able to commit and get the win."
West Virginia kicked a field goal to open the game, trailed, 10-3, then scored five consecutive touchdowns to take a commanding, 38-10 halftime lead.
The touchdowns came on a 33-yard pass reception by Ivan McCartney, an 8-yard run by Alston, a 15-yard reception by Ryan Nehlen, a 19-yard run by Garrison and a 6-yard reception by Brad Starks.
Garrison ran for his second touchdown to open the second half after a 41-yard reception by Stedman Bailey despite double coverage one play earlier.
Tyler Bitancurt hit his second field goal in the third quarter -- a 45 yarder -- and Alston finished the scoring with 7:52 left in the fourth quarter.
The Mountaineers forced and recovered a fumble on Bowling Green's opening kickoff return and kicked a field goal.
Falcons quarterback Matt Schilz completed 13 of 25 passes and threw three interceptions.
NOTES -- Backup quarterback Paul Millard finished the game and completed a 45-yard pass to Bailey, the longest of his career. ... Bailey had 112 yards receiving, his third 100-plus yard performance in a row. ...West Virginia is 71-2 when scoring more than 30 points a game.