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Mountaineers show resilience after opening loss

(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

(TSX / STATS) -- If there was any doubt that West Virginia is going to be a force with which to be reckoned this season, a look at the Mountaineers' 56-20 dismantling of hapless East Carolina last Saturday in Morgantown showed how powerful they will be when everything, and every one, comes together.

West Virginia picked up its first win of the season only six days after losing to No. 18 Virginia Tech 31-24 in its season-opener.

"I'm proud of the way the guys bounced back after the disappointing loss," West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. "I really felt after last week's game our guys were motivated to play again. And five-and-a-half days later, they showed up."

Holgorsen remains undefeated in home openers, and the Mountaineers posted their highest scoring half in the Holgorsen era, heading to the break with a 49-3 lead. The 46-point halftime advantage was the biggest since a 59-0 over Rutgers in 2001, Rich Rodriguez's first season as Mountaineer coach.

Junior quarterback Will Grier, the transfer from Florida playing for the first time at Milan Puskar Stadium, showed off his arm by completing 19-of-25 passes for 352 yards and five touchdowns.

"I have fun every time I go out there, but it was just great to play in front of those fans, man," Grier said. "It was an absolute blast. There's always room for improvement, but you can't ever be unhappy about a win for Mountaineer nation."

Quarterback-turned-wide receiver David Sills V was on the receiving end of three of Grier's touchdown passes and finished with seven catches for 153 yards.

The Mountaineers will have another easy game this week against FCS opponent Delaware State, which went winless in 2016 and is 0-2 this year after losses to Delaware (22-3) and Hampton (28-15).

West Virginia, which lost 13 votes from last week in the Associated Press poll, can't afford to take any game lightly. The Mountaineers will travel to Kansas in their Big 12 opener on Sept. 23 and will need to build momentum for the conference season.

"We're approaching the Delaware State game the same way we approach every single game on our schedule," West Virginia offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste said. "You have to respect your opponent. You can't underestimate anybody. You have to go out there and work and play to the best of your ability."

West Virginia rolled up 614 total yards against East Carolina and is averaging 40 points, 387 passing yards and 218.5 rushing yards a game.

--LB Al-Rasheed Benton, a senior, led the Mountaineers in tackles for the second straight week, making eight tops (six of them solo) and recording a tackle for a loss. He's the Mountaineers' top returning player (80 tackles) on a defense that lost four of its top five tacklers.

--QB Will Grier was efficient and deadly in the win over East Carolina, completing 19-of-25 passes (76 percent) for 352 yards and five touchdowns in just under three quarters of playing time in the blowout. West Virginia wants to limit Grier's rushes but carries the ball four times for 6 yards and once was the victim of a brutal facemask penalty. "I told (Grier), 'If you get hit again, I'm going to bench you,'" Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen said.

--RB Justin Crawford, West Virginia's only player on the Big 12's preseason team, has 118 yards and two touchdowns in just 15 carries in the win over East Carolina. Crawford is leading the rushing attack, averaging 112 yards a game.

Updated September 12, 2017

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