Freshman Ford Childress threw three touchdown passes to lead West Virginia to a 41-7 victory over Georgia State Saturday afternoon at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va.
Childress, making his first collegiate start after junior Paul Millard started the first two games of the season, completed 25-of-41 passes for 359 yards with one interception, but he easily could have surpassed 400 yards passing if not for several drops by WVU receivers.
Childress threw two touchdown passes to freshman Daikiel Shorts of 21 and 23 yards, and had a 45-yard TD hookup with Ivan McCartney.
"It was pretty good for his first game playing college football," said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. "I look for some different things than you guys (media) look for. Completion percentage, yards and all that stuff I really don't pay attention to. I thought his body language was pretty good. I thought he handled the huddle pretty good and coming to the sideline he was communicative. I thought he did a good job of just being in the game."
West Virginia’s other touchdowns came on runs by Charles Sims of 32 yards and 10 yards by Dreamius Smith.
Josh Lambert began the scoring for WVU with a 42-yard field goal on the Mountaineers’ opening drive.
Georgia State (0-3) came into the game averaging just 2.4 yards per rush in its two losses to Samford and Chattanooga, but managed to hit the Mountaineer defense for a couple of big gainers on first down, including Travis Evans's 65-yard touchdown run on its opening possession of the second half. That TD reduced West Virginia’s lead to just 17-7 and had some people scratching their heads.
But the Mountaineer offense got its act together in the fourth quarter, scoring three times, including Smith’s fourth-down run with 17 seconds left in the game.
"I thought the second half we started to play with a little energy," said Holgorsen. "We've kind of been focused on that all week of just getting guys out there that are positive with their body language and positive with their energy and I thought we improved on that."
Sims finished the game with 118 yards on 18 carries, freshman Wendell Smallwood added 62 on eight carries and Smith finished with 60 on 12 totes.
Shorts led all receivers with 88 yards on five catches, while Ronald Carswell added three catches for 67 yards. Holgorsen said he was particularly pleased with the way Shorts rebounded from last week's disappointing performance at Oklahoma.
"He made a couple of big catches across the middle and I was excited about him getting lit up like that and jumping right back up and playing football," said Holgorsen. "He's been a good player for us. He had a bad game for us last week and he knew it but he didn't pout. We named Mario (Alford) the starter and he worked hard and got himself into position to play."
Georgia State quarterback Ronnie Bell completed just 5-of-13 passes for 63 yards – 31 of those coming on a third-down pass to Robert Davis over the middle that was misplayed in the air by the Mountaineer secondary.
Evans had 118 yards on 12 carries.
West Virginia finished the game with 604 yards of offense – 359 through the air and 245 on the ground. Georgia State had 220 total yards.
"We accomplished what we wanted to on all three sides of the ball and we got a lot of snaps," said Holgorsen. "We'll look at the film and continue to get better."
West Virginia (2-1) is back on the road next Saturday to face non-conference rival Maryland in a game that will be played at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. The Terps play at Connecticut later this evening.