The West Virginia Mountaineers stifled the Missouri Tigers all game long Saturday to secure a 26-11 victory in front of 60,125 gold-clad fans in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score suggested.
Missouri (0-1) was only able to muster three points on the WVU (1-0) starting defense until a late Tigers score against many backups on the Mountaineers’ defense.
WVU had full control of the game in the first half and opened up a 13-3 lead late in the second quarter. But after a turnover, Missouri had the ball at the WVU 7-yard line.
The Mountaineers forced the Tigers into a 24-yard field goal attempt, but the kick that would have cut WVU’s lead down to one possession missed and Missouri went into halftime still trailing 13-3.
WVU came out of halftime and immediately found the end zone to extend its lead to 20-3 with 12:34 remaining in the third quarter. After two more field goals, the Mountaineers held a 26-3 lead mid-way through the fourth quarter and the Tigers were unable to get back in the game.
Missouri scored a late touchdown and 2-point conversion to set the final score at 26-11. Following that touchdown, the Tigers recovered an onside kick and drove the ball inside the WVU 10-yard line, but a turnover on downs ended any possible late rally.
Many players stood out for WVU, including former junior college star running back Justin Crawford who finished with a game-high 101 rushing yards on 21 carries and one touchdown in his Mountaineers debut. Rushel Shell racked up 90 rushing yards on 16 carries and one touchdown as well before leaving the game with leg cramps and missing most of the second half.
Mountaineers starting quarterback Skyler Howard finished completing 23 of 35 pass attempts for 253 yards and one interception. Despite getting banged up late in the second quarter with a rib injury, Howard hung tough and played through it. Wide receiver Daikiel Shorts led WVU with eight receptions for 131 yards.
Kicker Mike Molina connected on all four of his field goal attempts, accounting for a total of 14 points for the Mountaineers including two extra points.
For Missouri, quarterback Drew Lock finished completing 23 of 51 pass attempts for 280 yards and one touchdown with wide receiver J’Mon Moore leading the Tigers with eight receptions for 104 yards. Alex Ross led Missouri on the ground with 18 carries for 67 yards.
WVU’s offense sputtered at times, but ultimately did enough to win comfortably. The Mountaineers’ defense played solid all game long and despite Missouri racking up 462 total yards, a big portion of those yards came when the game was out of hand.
WVU returns to action Sept. 10 at home against Youngstown State and Missouri returns to action Sept. 10 at home against Eastern Michigan.