Devine rushes for 220, W.Va. beats Colorado 35-24
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP)—Noel Devine’s best performance helped West Virginia overcome a second straight game of turnover troubles.
Devine ran for a career-high 220 yards and a touchdown, leading the Mountaineers to a 35-24 victory over Colorado on Thursday night.
Jarrett Brown threw two touchdown passes and redshirt freshman fullback Ryan Clarke ran for two fourth-quarter scores for West Virginia (3-1).
Devine had a season-high 22 carries, and coach Bill Stewart decided to use the 5-foot-8 junior more often when West Virginia had difficulty handling Colorado’s blitzing defense in the second half.
“I got a little frustrated with the pass protection and Jarrett running around in the third quarter and I said, that’s it—it’s all on me,” Stewart said. “I’ve been trying to wheel and deal it and throw it deep and spread the field. I said let’s put the ball in No. 7’s hands and win the football game and that’s what we did.”
Both teams played sloppily despite having an extra week to prepare and have plenty of problems to sort out heading into their conference openers.
West Virginia’s defense allowed another quarterback to pile up the passing yards. The Mountaineers, who play at Syracuse on Oct. 10, lost four first-half fumbles to Colorado and have 10 turnovers in the past two games.
“Offensively, we just couldn’t get in synch,” Stewart said. “If we don’t take care of turnovers, we will not have a banner season like I’d hoped we would.”
Colorado’s Cody Hawkins threw two touchdown passes but was intercepted three times and Colorado (1-3) managed three total points on four other drives that went inside the 30.
“When you play a good football team, you have to maximize your opportunities,” Colorado coach Dan Hawkins said. “Bottom line, could we have won the football game? Sure. And I think you’ve got to leave it at that.”
Colorado now faces the impossible task of meeting their head coach’s directive of “10 wins, no excuses.” The Buffaloes would have to win the remainder of their games, including a bowl, starting next week at No. 2 Texas.
The Buffaloes kept Brown mostly in check, but couldn’t match Devine’s speed.
“He showed me character and grit,” Stewart said. “He quit the cutback stuff and lowered his shoulder and he punished the guys who tried to tackle him.”
Devine professed his love for playing on Thursday nights but refused to play up his performance, focusing on refusing to sour on his team for its turnovers.
“There’s always room to get better,” Devine said. “I always kept my hopes up. I knew we were going to play well. Once we eliminated our mistakes, everything was good.”
Devine went 77 yards for a score on West Virginia’s second play from scrimmage and ran 56 yards late in the second quarter that set up Brown’s 6-yard scoring pass to Jock Sanders.
Devine ran nine times during a 14-play drive midway through the fourth quarter that ended in Clarke’s 1-yard TD run for a 28-17 lead.
“I hope I never see that guy again,” Dan Hawkins said of Devine.
After Colorado turned the ball over on downs deep in its own territory, Clarke tacked on an 8-yard scoring run to put the game out of reach.
Brown, sixth in the nation in total offense at 335 yards per game, twice overthrew wide-open receivers far downfield and finished 12 of 19 for just 148 yards. He was sacked three times.
Colorado’s Rodney Stewart had another solid game against the Mountaineers. Last year he rushed for 166 yards, the most ever by a Colorado freshman. On Thursday, Stewart had a 36-yard TD run in the first quarter and finished with 105 yards on 21 carries.
Cody Hawkins kept his cool at times, avoiding the blitz to hit Scotty McKnight with a 29-yard scoring toss on fourth-and-7 early in the third that cut Colorado’s deficit to four at 21-17. But Colorado didn’t score again until the final seconds of the game.
Hawkins went 27 of 52 for 292 yards. Riar Geer caught eight passes for 113 yards.
“Even though we lost this football game, that was our best effort by far,” Dan Hawkins said.
Colorado was outgained 405-392 after a 24-0 home win over Wyoming on Sept. 19. The Buffaloes were making their second trip East in three weeks. The other was a 54-38 loss at Toledo on Sept. 12.
“We saw them get beat on film against Toledo,” Bill Stewart said. “Maybe I didn’t do a good job of getting the press clippings out of our head.”