MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — After a rocky first half Saturday against James Madison, West Virginia receiver Tevin Bush knew the Mountaineer offense needed a spark.
On the first play of the third quarter, WVU quarterback Austin Kendall found a crossing Bush, who promptly took the ball down the left sideline for a 41-yard gain, easily West Virginia’s most explosive play of the game.
Six plays later, the Mountaineers found the end zone for the first time when Kendall hit George Campbell on third down for 28 yards.
“I was ready for that type of play even in the first half,” Bush said of his long catch and run. “I’m here to be my team’s spark plug, so that’s what I was, a spark plug.”
Bush also caught the final touchdown of the game to put the Mountaineers up 20-10 in the fourth quarter on a 22-yard score where the JMU defense lost him in the back of the end zone.
Bush, at 5-foot-6, doesn’t look like a typical wide receiver, but he believes his small stature helps him get lost in the chaos of any given play.
“I honestly like being my size because it’s easier for me to do the things that I do,” he said. “People underestimate everything that I do, so I’m just a player and a baller, that’s all there really is to it.”
Bush also caught the eye of his head coach, Neal Brown.
Wide receiver Tevin Bush has a fan in Neal Brown. Brown considered Bush’s 41-yard reception to open the second half to be one of the game’s three biggest plays.
“We have to figure out a way to get him the ball more,” Brown said. “He didn’t have enough touches. He’s electric.”
Both Brown and JMU head coach Curt Cignetti made odd calls late in West Virginia’s 20-13 win.
Trailing by a touchdown with no timeouts remaining, Cignetti elected to punt on 4th and 8 from his own 22-yard line with 2:35 remaining.
If the Mountaineers elected to run the ball on every play, JMU’s best hope was to get the ball back with only 30 seconds left.
WVU did run it on first and second down, but decided to roll out on third down with Kendall, who found an open Sam James, but James’ drop stopped the clock with just over a minute to go. Instead of getting the ball with about 30 second left, the Dukes now had a minute to try and tie the game.
Though it worked out for Brown in the end, he knows it was a potentially dangerous decision.
“You know what they are going to do,” he said. “The cornerback was playing press. We practice that four-minute situation a lot. We got Austin on the edge and I said, ‘If you [roll out], this guy’s wide open. If you run the ball, you slide, take a knee, game’s over. I tell Sam if you catch it, don’t go out of bounds. He only dropped two balls in fall camp. I still trust him a lot. I think he was worried about staying inbounds and took his eye off the ball. The thought process is you get the first down and you never have to play another.”
Cignetti also didn’t make down from his decision to punt the ball late.
“We were deep in our territory and we weren’t particularly passing very well,” he said. “We had time to punt it, hold them and get the ball back, which we did. It just didn’t work out.”
Dukes draw like Buckeyes
James Madison belongs in the same company as Ohio State in one regard. Saturday’s attendance of 61,891 was the highest for a WVU home opener since the Buckeyes visited in 1998.