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WVU finds way to survive Tribe start

August 31, 2013

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — William & Mary couldn’t keep a solid first-half effort going at West Virginia.

The Tribe built a 10-point halftime lead but quickly lost momentum in the heat and fell to the Mountaineers 24-17 on Saturday.

“I honestly don’t think that there’s anything to be happy about,” said William & Mary wide receiver Tre McBride. “Obviously we played well, there were some highlights in the game where we came out and worked hard.

“We don’t want a pity party, but what we are going to do is we’re going to throw this game behind us and we’re going to work to smash everybody else on our schedule. So no, there are no moral victories, none of that. A loss is a loss.”

William & Mary was held to 108 total yards in the second half and were kept out of the end zone after leading 17-7 at halftime. The Tribe fell short in trying for their first win over an FBS team since 2009 against Virginia.

“I don’t know whether we ran out of gas, whether the depth got to us, or the heat got to us,” said William & Mary coach Jimmye Laycock. “We just weren’t able to make the plays we needed to in the fourth quarter to get the win. But I thought overall our effort was outstanding, I thought we had a number of guys who really stepped up and played very well. “

Michael Graham threw for one touchdown and ran for another. McBride had three catches for 108 yards.

But Wendell Smallwood’s 2-yard touchdown run with 3:22 left for West Virginia kept the Mountaineers from becoming the latest Bowl Subdivision school to lose to an FCS opponent.

“We are fortunate it didn’t happen to us,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. “Hats off to William & Mary. They were exactly what we thought they were.”

West Virginia looked lost at times to start the post-Geno Smith era, and the Mountaineers’ defense made some of the same mistakes that made the unit of the worst in the country last year.

Houston transfer Charles Sims rushed for 120 yards and a score and quarterback Paul Millard threw a touchdown pass in their first starts for West Virginia, and the Mountaineers mustered enough offense to earn their 10th straight win to start a season.

West Virginia now must work out the kinks with the Big 12 opener looming next Saturday at Oklahoma.

“Offensively we are still trying to find our identity,” Holgorsen said.

A two-year backup to Smith, Millard went 19 of 25 for 237 yards with no interceptions.  He said getting the start “meant a lot.”

“ I wasn’t nervous, just excited about the opportunity,” Millard said.

Millard was chosen over Florida State transfer Clint Trickett.

Holgorsen said the closer it got to Saturday’s game, “the communication between Paul and me was better — that is, his experience on seeing the signals and communicating them. Clint has more game experience, but without being able to experience it in our offense, I felt more comfortable with Paul out there.”

Millard completed his first eight passes and played West Virginia’s first three series. Trickett was ineffective in the next two series and West Virginia was held to 5 total yards in the second quarter.

Millard returned late in the first half and played the rest of the game, throwing a 69-yard touchdown pass to Ronald Carswell late in the third quarter that tied the score at 17-17.

A short punt gave West Virginia the ball at midfield with 7 minutes left. K.J. Myers caught a 15-yard pass from Millard at the William & Mary 16 but fumbled and Daikiel Shorts recovered for the Mountaineers.

Two carries by Sims moved the ball to the 2 and Smallwood bulled up the middle for the go-ahead score.

Darwin Cook intercepted Graham at the William & Mary 40 on the next series and West Virginia ran out the clock.

Despite its second-half troubles, several William & Mary running backs got into the open field, and McBride exposed the West Virginia secondary’s coverage weaknesses.

Cornerback Ishmael Banks and safety Karl Joseph were victims of long catches by McBride in the first half that set up Graham’s short TD pass to Darnell Laws and Graham’s scrambling 5-yard scoring run on third down.

McBride was wide open on a 40-yard catch late in the third quarter, but William & Mary couldn’t take advantage. John Carpenter missed a 42-yard field goal attempt.

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