MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Geno Smith threw two touchdown passes and Noel Devine rushed for 111 yards and a score, leading No. 25 West Virginia to a 31-0 win over Coastal Carolina on Saturday.
The Mountaineers crawled to a 10-0 halftime lead but the offense, led by Smith and Devine, dominated the second half and the defense didn’t allow Coastal Carolina inside the 20-yard line all game.
West Virginia earned its first shutout since a 38-0 win at Cincinnati in 2005 and its first home shutout win since beating Rutgers 48-0 in 1997.
Smith showed poise in his first career start, completing 20 of 27 passes for 216 yards. Unlike his three predecessors, Smith didn’t have to worry about running the ball.
That job belonged to Devine, who was bottled up by the Coastal Carolina defense for much of the game. He was averaging only 3 yards per carry until breaking free for a 39-yard gain early in the fourth quarter to set up his 1-yard TD run one play later for the final margin.
The Chanticleers’ focus on Devine allowed Smith to thrive, although most of his completions came on short, simple routes.
Robert Stands forced Adrian Sullivan to fumble the second-half kickoff and West Virginia’s Darwin Cook recovered. Smith threw a dart to Jock Sanders in the end zone from 17 yards out on third down for a 17-0 lead.
Sophomore Tavon Austin, hoping to become more than just a return specialist for the Mountaineers, showed his speed at wide receiver against the Chanticleers.
Austin made a nice run after a catch over the middle for a 13-yard gain late in the second quarter but he fumbled the ball through the end zone near the right sideline. He turned another short pass into a 33-yard gain that led to Ryan Clarke’s 1-yard TD run for a 24-0 lead late in the third.
Austin finished with five catches for 90 yards. Sanders had eight receptions for 71 yards.
West Virginia won its seventh straight season opener and improved to 11-0 against FCS opponents since 2000.
The Mountaineers didn’t dominate early, getting on the scoreboard on just two of their seven first-half drives.
Devine touched the ball nine times on a 16-play drive to open the game and West Virginia needed Smith’s 4-yard scoring toss to J.D. Woods on fourth down to avoid coming up empty.
Using Devine as a decoy, Sanders went 31 yards down the right sideline on a reverse to set up a short field goal midway through the second quarter.
Coastal Carolina was limited to 186 yards of offense but will go home with a $350,000 payout.
The closest the Chanticleers came to scoring was after Dominique Davenport returned an interception 37 yards to the West Virginia 21 late in the second quarter, but Brandon Hogan intercepted Zach MacDowall in the end zone on the next play. Coastal Carolina’s Justin Durham missed field goal tries of 47 and 42 yards.