LANDOVER, Md. -- FBS No. 9 West Virginia's high powered offense was limited to more than 27 points lower than its scoring average the last two games, but Geno Smith's five touchdown passes gave the Mountaineers the 42-12 victory over FCS No. 5 James Madison in the Virginia 529 College Savings Classic at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., Sept. 15. With the loss, the Dukes fell to 2-1 on the season, while the Mountaineers moved to 2-0.
West Virginia scored on its first four possessions of the game, with Shawne Alston getting the first on a 2-yard touchdown run. Quarterback Geno Smith then threw three consecutive touchdown passes, all from less than 10 yards out, to give the Mountaineers a 28-0 lead with just over 10 minutes to go in the first half.
The Dukes got on the scoreboard after stopping WVU late in the second quarter, and a shanked 24-yard punt gave Madison the ball at the WVU 43. Eight plays later, redshirt-junior kicker Cameron Starke banked in the 33-yard field goal attempt off the left upright to make it 28-3 at the halftime break.
The Dukes' defense held WVU on the opening drive of the second half on a 4th-and-2 at midfield. JMU took the ball and moved down the field inside the redzone. JMU was unable to punch it in the end zone on a 4th-and-2 and the Mountaineers took over at their own one. On the ensuing play, sophomore Dean Marlowe and junior Tyler Snow dropped Alston in the end zone for a safety to make it 28-5 early in the third. It was the first safety for JMU since the win over William & Mary on Nov. 13, 2010 and the first defensive score since Mike Allen's interception return for a TD against UMass in the 2011 regular season finale.
WVU then came back with an eight-play, 70-yard drive, capped by Smith's fourth touchdown pass of the day and third to Stedman Bailey to push the lead back out to 35-5 with 4:37 to go in the third quarter.
The Dukes threatened again on the next drive, getting the WVU 2 before a deflected Justin Thorpe pass ended up in WVU's arms in the end zone for a touchback with just over a minute remaining in the quarter. WVU then capitalized, going the 80 yards and another Smith touchdown pass to Tavon Austin to make it 42-5.
Madison finished off the scoring as the Dukes went 62 yards in 12 plays over 4:51. Redshirt-sophomore running back Jauan Latney dashed 20 yards to the end zone for the score to make it a 42-12 final.
WVU outgained Madison 569-300, including 448 yards of passing. The Dukes put together 188 rushing yards and 112 yards through the air against the Mountaineers. JMU held an 11-minute advantage in time of possession, but were only 2-of-4 in the red zone.
Redshirt-junior running back Jordan Anderson led all rushers with 75 yards on 17 carries, with redshirt-senior quarterback Justin Thorpe going 44 yards on 14 carries. Thorpe was also 6-of-13 for 71 yards through the air with one interception. Senior safety Jakarie Jackson had a career-high 14 tackles, while Marlowe added nine.
Smith finished with 411 passing yards and five touchdowns on 34-for-39 passing, connecting with Bailey 13 times for 173 yards and three touchdowns. Austin also had 11 receptions for 113 yards and one score. Smith's 400-yard effort made him the career passing leader at WVU with 8,191 yards.
The Dukes open Colonial Athletic Association play on the road next Saturday, Sept. 22, as they head to Kingston, R.I., to take on the Rhode Island Rams. Kickoff at Meade Stadium is set for 1 p.m.