MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — On an idyllic day, West Virginia broke a two-game losing streak that spanned more than eight months by crushing East Carolina 56-20.
A huge first half put the game away for the Mountaineers (1-1), while the Pirates (0-2) experienced more misery, slipping to 3-11 under second-year coach Scottie Montgomery.
Recapping the live updates throughout the game:
— Will Grier’s five-touchdown day came on 19-of-25 passing for 352 yards. His top receiver was David Sills (153 yards and three TDs on 10 catches), who has five scores through two weeks.
— Justin Crawford ran 15 times for 118 yards with two scores, and Kennedy McKoy finished with 54 yards on 11 rushes.
— The Mountaineers outgained ECU 619 to 470.
— WVU milked some clock and punted, but not before an ECU timeout drew boos from a few thousand remaining fans.
— Three-and-out leads to an ECU punt.
— The Mountaineers’ second-teamers aren’t putting together many highlights. Two 1-yard runs by Pettaway preceded Chugunov scrambling back to the line on third down.
TOUCHDOWN: Trevon Brown 95-yard pass from Gardner Minshew (10:13) WVU leads 56-20
Pinned back by Kinney’s 52-yard punt, the Pirates went the distance as Brown ran away from Cory Winfield’s man coverage. (Drive: 2 Plays, 98 yards, 0:42)
— Three-and-out for WVU brought out Billy Kinney for his second punt. (Walk-on receiver Druw Bowen appeared to twist his right knee after dropping a screen pass.)
— Jake Verity misfired from 49 yards on a drive extended by Quandarius Qualls’ third-down personal foul.
— Sophomore Chris Chugunov replaced Grier, who produced 56 points on 10 drives. Chugs worked around a sack to complete 3-of-6 on the possession, with two catchable throws dropped by Dominique Maiden. The drive ended with Mike Molina pushing a 45-yard kick wide right.
— ECU subbed quarterbacks, going back to Week 1 starter Gardner Minshew. His third-down sideline pass was broken up by freshman corner Kenny Robinson
TOUCHDOWN: Sills 4-yard pass from Grier (7:55) WVU leads 56-13
Caleb Pratt’s near-perfect onside kick took WVU’s first line by surprise, but the ECU kicker fell on his squibber a couple feet shy of allowing it to travel the requisite 10 yards. WVU started at ECU’s 44 and benefited from Tyree Owens’ unsportsmanlike conduct penalty — his second 15-yarder of the afternoon— before Grier hit Eli Wellman for 19. That led to Sills’ fifth TD (Drive: 6 plays, 44 yards in 1:48)
TOUCHDOWN: Jimmy Williams 19-yard pass from Sirk (7:55) WVU leads 49-13
Sirk put together an admirable drive. He scooted for 11 on a keeper before hitting Davon Grayson for 15. And on the scoring play, he beat a third-down blitz with a slant pass to Williams, who beat Hakeem Bailey. (Drive: 7 plays, 79 yards in 2:52)
— With Grier and the starting offense were on the field to open the third quarter, West Virginia endured its first punt after two holding flags.
FIELD GOAL: Verity from 45 yards (12:08) WVU leads 49-6
Stopping a string of 42 unanswered points by WVU, the Pirates opened the second half with a teeny bit of momentum. Sirk converted a third-and-6 by narrowly slipping a pass by Bailey that Davon Grayson took for 17 yards to the Mountaineers’ 30. (Drive: 9 plays, 45 yards in 2:44)
— WVU outgained East Carolina 479 to 191 in the half, scoring on seven of eight series.
— Will Grier was 16-of-22 passing for 329 yards, four TDs and a 258 quarterback rating. His day should be done.
— Crawford has 110 yards rushing and two scores on 13 carries, while McKoy has 53 yards from scrimmage.
— David Sills caught six passes for 149 yards with two TDs.
— ECU drains the final seconds of the half without incident.
TOUCHDOWN: Sills 75-yard pass from Grier (0:24) WVU leads 49-3
Crawford gained 11 yards on the first play before Sills raced down the sideline — at least 20 yards past the nearest DB — for the touchdown. Brutal defense by the Pirates who seem clueless. (Drive: 2 plays, 86 yards in 0:24)
— Kyzir White dropping INTs is sooooo last year. He made his second pick of the afternoon on a deep sideline throw at WVU’s 30.
TOUCHDOWN: Crawford 41-yard run (4:35) WVU leads 42-3
Crawford carried on three of the possession’s four plays, gaining 61 yards. The big finisher came on an inside zone run and gave Crawford 99 yards on the day. (Drive: 4 plays, 63 yards in 0:51)
— ECU reached the West Virginia 37 where Sirk’s fourth-and-10 pass was off the mark for an open Williams.
— Molina missed wide left on a 44-yard field goal try, ending a 10-play drive that featured two third-and-long catches by Ka’Raun White. The coolest play of the drive, however, involved some backyard-style football: Grier dropping the snap, backpedaling from pressure and heaving a 35-yard pass that Simms couldn’t secure at the pylon.
— TARGETING: East Carolina special-teamer Joe Carter ejected for his punt-return hit on Simms. That might wind up being ECU’s only defensive highlight.
— Three-and-out go the Pirates thanks to Toyous Avery breaking up a third-and-2 pass for Quay Johnson.
TOUCHDOWN: Sills 9-yard pass from Grier (9:31) WVU leads 35-3
Grier’s left knee folded awkwardly as defensive tackle Tyree Owens dragged him down by the facemask. The QB was OK, however, and flung an easy corner-route strike to Sills. (Drive: 3 plays, 31 yards in 0:50)
— TURNOVER: Kyzir White undercut a sideline route and intercepted Sirk at ECU’s 31. As if the West Virginia offense needed assistance …
TOUCHDOWN: Marcus Simms 52-yard pass from Grier (10:31) WVU leads 28-3
The Mountaineers are slicing through ECU’s defense like butter. Pettaway caught a 12-yard pass on an underneath route and Grier made a sidearm throw to Jennings in the slot on third-and-short. Nothing short about Grier’s next pass to Simms, a 60-yard rainbow for yet another score. (Drive: 6 plays, 81 yards in 1:59)
— Jimmy Williams made another 11-yard catch before a chop-block penalty stopped the series. ECU punted from the 49.
TOUCHDOWN: McKoy 13-yard run (1:04) WVU leads 21-3
David Sills beat safety Bobby Fulp for a 40-yard gain and McKoy scored untouched on superbly blocked draw. WVU averaging 10 yards per play in the first quarter and really helping its red-zone percentage. (Drive: 3 plays, 53 yards in 0:45)
— East Carolina’s second drive was wrecked when a mistimed shotgun snap trickled past Sirk for a 14-yard loss.
TOUCHDOWN: White 7-yard pass from Grier (3:50) WVU leads 14-3
Ka’Raun White extended the drive by catching a 16-yarder on third down and then scored his first TD of 2017 on a fade route. In between, Gary Jennings streaked downfield for 38 yards behind cornerback Travis Phillips. (Drive: 8 plays, 71 yards in 2:13)
— FIELD GOAL: Jake Verity from 23 yards (6:08) WVU leads 7-3
Nice answer by the Pirates who were backed up by a holding flag yet converted a third-and-15 when Jimmy Williams hauled in a 27-yard sideline grab over Elijah Battle. A fourth-and-3 gamble at the WVU 34 paid off when Sirk flipped a 5-yard pass to Deondre Farrier. Williams converted another third down by drawing a pass-interference flag on Toyous Avery, but Sirk’s third-and-goal keeper from the 4 was stuffed by Al-Rasheed Benton. (Drive: 15 plays, 70 yards in 6:30)
TOUCHDOWN: Crawford 5-yard run (12:44) WVU leads 7-0
West Virginia went tempo on its opening series and seized the lead rapidly. McKoy took a screen for 21 yards and carried twice for 19 more, while Crawford had three carries for 16. Grier completed 3-of-4 on the drive, tempered only by a deep ball that drifted out-of-bounds after Marcus Simms raced past the corner. (Drive: 9 plays, 75 yards in 2:16)
— The Mountaineers have never lost a home opener under coach Dana Holgorsen (6-0), and they’re 24-point favorites today.
— Among the positives from the opening loss to Virginia Tech was WVU’s pass-protection. Will Grier was sacked twice on 60 dropbacks. “It’s not like Tech didn’t have guys who can rush the passer,” Holgorsen said. “That pocket was wide. I haven’t seen that pocket that wide in a long time.”
— West Virginia leads the overall series 18-3 and has won all 13 meetings in Morgantown. The biggest margin was 49-0 in 1987, a benchmark some think could be challenged today.
— ECU coaches named quarterback Gardner Minshew a team captain but he was benched in Week 1 for Duke transfer Thomas Sirk. And Sirk gets the start today.
— Embarrassed at home 34-14 by James Madison last week, the Pirates needed a touchdown in the final 23 seconds to make it that close.
— Former West Virginia player Tyree Owens, booted off the team in September 2015 after he was stabbed downtown, starts at defensive tackle for ECU now.
— INJURY UPDATE: Holgorsen said this week offensive guard Grant Lingafelter (knee) was “day-to-day” but today is not one of those days. The senior remains out, so redshirt freshman Josh Sills starts.
— INJURY UPDATE: After missing the opener with a knee injury, WVU backup safety Marvin Gross is on the field and going through drills.
— Read today’s game preview, called Four-Down Territory, where we focus on four storylines because outside of Boulder there’s no such thing as Five-Down Territory.
— Our MetroNews picks for this one: