WHITE SULFER SPRINGS, W.Va.–The West Virginia University football team got back on the field for the 2016 edition of Gold-Blue Football Spring Game on Saturday afternoon.
The Mountaineers offense came from behind to defeat the defense 49-46 in front of more than 6,000 fans at the Greenbrier Resort.
It was sophomore quarterback David Sills who found redshirt sophomore wide receiver Ricky Rogers for the game-winning touchdown.
Skyler Howard completed 18 of his 26 attempts for 270 yards and three touchdowns. He threw one interception in the third quarter.
Senior cornerback Antonio Crawford picked off Howard’s pass along the far sideline and returned it for a 23-yard touchdown.
“The one interception that concerns me – and I have to give credit to Antonio Crawford for that because he saw the back leak late and Skyler’s eyes are supposed to go to that back and he threw it and Antonio made a great play on that ball,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “It depends on which side I am sitting on. I’m happy for the fact that we made that play on defense but offensively we’ve got to prevent that.”
WVU’s defense took an early 6-0 lead after redshirt junior safety Shane Commodore intercepted a poorly thrown pass from quarterback William Crest.
Howard got the offense going during the third offensive series. The senior quarterback completed a 29-yard pass to redshirt junior wide receiver Gibson, who was forced out at the two-yard line. Howard found redshirt junior Elijah Wellman for the short touchdown pass.
After converting the two-point conversion, the offense made it a 12-8 deficit.
The defense added to its lead after a three-and-out series when Sills took over the reigns on the fourth offensive series.
During the fifth series Howard completed a 47-yard pass to senior receiver Daikiel Shorts, who broke free from a defender. Then Howard connected with Gibson for a 12-yard touchdown to pull within 17-14.
Crest’s second series at quarterback went much like the first. The redshirt sophomore quarterback threw a pass that ended up in Commodore’s hands for a second time to give the defense a 20-14 advantage.
On third down Howard threw a quick pass to Gary Jennings. The sophomore wide out split between two defenders and beat Nana Kyeremeh to the end zone.
Austin Hensley’s pass was picked off by redshirt junior linebacker Hodari Christian to give the defense a 29-21 lead.
The defense took a 40-21 lead at the beginning of the second half before the offense heated up.
True freshman quarterback Cody Saunders connected with fellow true freshman Marcus Simms, who faked out Commodore and found the end zone.
Crest later found Simms in the end zone for a beautiful 47-yard pass that was called back because of an offensive pass interference call.
A few plays later, Crest hit Simms on a crossing route in the end zone.
True freshman Kennedy McCoy took the handoff from Crest and picked up a 30-yard run. Crest was beginning to look in-sync at quarterback when redshirt senior linebacker Sean Walters drilled Crest as he received the snap.
Cody Saunders completed a touchdown pass late in the game to pull the offense within 46-42. Saunders rolled out of the pocket and found Sills.
“Our team is going to continue to change and continue to evolve with the addition of new guys and continuing to move forward,” Holgorsen said. “It’s certainly going to be fun watching this team develop.”
Crest was the leading ball carrier with 89 yards on 12 attempts. Senior running back Rushel Shell had nine carries for 50 yards.
WVU quarterbacks completed 32-of-49 passes for 433 yards and six touchdowns.
Tyler Orlosky, Darrien Howard, Daikiel Shorts Jr. and Elijah Wellman are this year’s Iron Mountaineer award winners.
Ka’Raun White missed the game due to a shoulder injury. Chris Chugunov also missed the game and Darrien Howard was out due to a funeral.