Ben Queen/MetroNews photo

WVU’s Wendell Smallwood (4) scores the decisive touchdown from 2 yards out late in the fourth quarter, giving the Mountaineers a 24-17 win over William & Mary.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va.— Paul Millard threw a game-tying 69-yard touchdown pass, Charles Sims topped the 100-yard mark and freshman Wendell Smallwood scored the late go-ahead TD as West Virginia beat FCS member William & Mary 24-17.

The Mountaineers had to overcome a 10-point halftime, hardly the blowout many of the 56,350 in attendance expected. But less than 24 hours after Kansas State succumbed to FCS member North Dakota State, WVU felt relieved to merely get a victory, even one that seemed too close for comfort.

“Obviously we’ve got a long ways to go,” said coach Dana Holgorsen after the game. “But there are plenty of FCS teams out there that are happier right now than William & Mary are after beating an FBS team. It happens every week. We are fortunate it didn’t happen to us.”

Sims ran for 120 yards on 23 carries and Dreamius Smith added 40 yards on 12 attempts. But it was Smallwood getting the crucial handoff on WVU’s goal-line package with 3:22 left, powering through tacklers on a 2-yard run.

Darwin Cook promptly ended the underdogs’ comeback hopes by picking off Michael Graham.

“I told Cookie early in the week ‘You’re going to pick that pass off,'” said WVU defensive coordinator Keith Patterson. “And when he saw the under route, he knew exactly what was coming and sat all over it.”

MORE MOUNTAINEERS: Action ans postgame video from Saturday’s win

William & Mary, which upset Virginia in 2010 and lost to Maryland 7-6 last season, put up 309 yards of offense. But after being blanked in the second half, there was no talk of a moral victory.

“We’ve been there, done that,” said Tribe coach Jimmye Laycock. “When a player comes to William & Mary, he knows he’s going to have the opportunity once a year to line up in one of these big ballgames.”

Sims’ 11-yard touchdown run capped WVU’s opening drive, a 67-yard march that began with Millard taking the field and settling the preseason-long question of who would be the starting quarterback.

But those were the only points of the first half for West Virginia (1-0), which missed a 55-yard field goal on its next series and then punted on the ensuing three.

“When you have success early and you’re inexperienced, you start thinking this is easy,” said Mountaineers offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson. “I could sense a lull.”

Meanwhile, William & Mary (0-1) reeled off 17 unanswered points, aided by the big-play receiving of Tre McBride. His 40-yard catch over WVU cornerback Icky Banks set up the Tribe’s tying score—a 1-yard toss from Graham to Darnell Laws. And on the next possession, McBride hauled in a 28-yarder over safety Karl Joseph, setting up Graham’s 5-yard scoring scramble.

A Millard fumble on a sack led to the Tribe’s 29-yard field goal 23 seconds before halftime.

And into the lockerroom the Mountaineers went, trailing 17-7 to a team they were favored to beat by 33 points.

“I just wanted to stay calm and keep those guys on offense calm,” Millard said.

WVU appeared calm in opening the third quarter with a 15-play, 70-yard drive that nearly led to a touchdown. But Sims was barely tripped up at the 4 by safety Jerome Couplin, forcing Josh Lambert to come on for a 22-yard field goal that trimmed the gap to 17-10.

On their next drive, the Mountaineers tied it with Millard finding Ronald Carswell on a 69-yard post pattern. It was the flashiest throw of the day for Millard, who seemingly seized the job with a 19-of-25 passing performance for 237 yards.

West Virginia’s next two drives ended in punts, though they were boomers as Nick O’Toole struck for 56 and 60 yards. The latter came out of his own end zone midway through the fourth quarter and pinned William & Mary back at its own 25.

Four plays later, William & Mary punted and WVU took over at midfield, poised for its decisive drive.

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  • Tony P

    WVU is loaded at running back and the defense will be better than last year but not much better. Biggest thing we need is to find out who will be QB the rest of the season (Childress or Trickett, cuz Millard is awful). Will be a good season for us if we go to a bowl game. I'm a die hard WVU fan but am not going to lie to myself and say we are going to contend in the Big 12. Firing Holg's would be a mistake. The program is in shambles but Holg's didn't exactly take over a power house program. If the team is this bad in two years then I'd agree with getting rid of him, but you gotta give the guy time. If Michigan would have stuck it out with Rich Rod they would have either won a national championship within another 3 years or had to quickly find a new coach when he jumped ship and shredded every document on campus (their current coach ruined Denard Robinson and sputtered offensively). When WVU lost Casteel we lost one of the best defensive coordinators in the nation. So far Holg's biggest blunder is when he hired these idiots he's got coaching the defense. FYI William and Mary isn't a good team. It is going to be a long season, but I am still not sold that we are going to be this bad forever. Special teams and RB's are set for years. Now its about getting more experience at the other positions and getting a solid recruiting class for the 2014-2015 season.


    Tom, WVU DID compete in every game before hiring Holgorsen, WVU went to LSU and was just one turnover short of coming out with the win. Horgorsen comes in and WVU gets SLAUGHTERED by LSU AND Syracuse.

  • wvmtneer

    Anyone who thinks they can predict an entire season based upon one game is an idiot.

  • Jean Taylor

    Amazing how Coach Rod not only is an excellent Coach but he is also a great manager especially at making improvements to the facilities that surround him....I.E. WVU...Michigan...Arizona. you have to sell the program and he is GREAT at that. He is a micro- manager for a head coach you want that...our program needs to get back to its WV roots. And Coach Gibson was a great start.

  • Jean Taylor

    Magic Mike....heck YES bring back Rich Rod!!! You think he did us dirty??? Really??? How about how he tried to bring our program to the next level so we could compete with the Bama's & Ohio State's and he got his wrists slapped because he wanted upgrades for the stupid of him. Look at those upgrades now. Now they're miraculously a great idea...and getting done. HELL YES BRING RICH BACK AND GO ARIZONA!!!!

  • JasonMccallister

    United we stand divided we fall. These kids need our support don't be a fair weathered fan be a mountaineer!!!

  • JasonMccallister

    United we stand divided we fall. These young men need mountaineer support quit being selfish it's bigger than you. Let's go moutaineers

  • Marcus

    Offer the job to Doc, keep Dawson on as offensive coordinator, the rest of the staff is already in place and welcome the recruiting and the wins as they will pile up !!!

  • eliotz

    Its really a perfect scenario.. Exactly what the combination of 2nd year vets who think they know everything and a bunch of cocky recruits need to wake them up for the season! They will take practice and t-e-a-m more seriously now, settle down and hopefully sneak up on OK. If we would have opened up the playbook and blown out WM as predicted, we would have gone into Norman with a bunch of cocky players, and a film out there holding the secret to our demise. Other than the scary errors, this really is the prefect scenario. Hopefully Holgerson and company will take it and run with it.

  • Magic Mike


    • JasonMccallister

      Magic Mike News flash Richrod doesn't want To be here

  • Jdawg

    What about Ford?? Corso said a couple years ago say he was the biggest kept secret in college football and Holgerson kept him hid because he signed him so early? Any info as to why Ford can't beat out the other two????

  • Ratman

    Well said Big Tom. Everybody expects miracles with young inexperienced players. Rich rod was 3-8 his first year. It took a few years to get his system and players in place. It is simply sickening to hear you so called West Virginia fans act the way you do. I love the Mounties and support them 100 percent. Rich Rod did not want to be here and Bill Stewart was a wonderful person. If Dana was finishing with the records Bill was you all would still be crying. You are a spoiled bunch and will continue to complain no matter what happens. Get over the fact that Dana is not from around here and quit your whining .

    • EPR

      Cool story bro...

    • Magic Mike

      Rich Rod took over a dismal program. Holgorsen had all the pieces in place.

  • pghmountaineer

    I think I can say that the majority of WVU fans are not happyabout the way the game was played. I for one, don't expect much from this season. I think 6 or 7 wins would be over achieving for this team. I do however believe the future is bright. That said, I like Millard's competiveness but I think teh future is with Tricket or Childress. I think we're waisting an opportunity to grow a quarterback for the next couple of seasons.
    You may not agree, but it looks like our defense is in trouble agian this year. They look soft.

  • big tom

    I seem to be defending wvu football, and the reality is what I said all along, they will be lucky to win 5 games.
    but,,, we are replacing 8 starters on offense.. our top four rushers yesterday, were even on the team last hr..Millard has almost no game experience,,,childress has no game exp.. trickett is still learning the system,, these are the most important position players on the team,, be patient, no expect miracles,, we're two yrs away from competing every game..
    you can step it up a lot faster in BB but not FB.

  • ed

    Our O-line played badly against an inferior foe. I love going to games but think more alcohol will be needed this year.