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WVU turns it on in second half to run away from Norfolk State

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Geno Smith threw for 371 yards and four scores and West Virginia overcame a rough start to beat Norfolk State 55-12 Saturday. The Mountaineers scored on their first seven possessions of the second half to erase a 12-10 halftime deficit to an FCS opponent.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- Geno Smith threw for 371 yards and four scores and West Virginia overcame a rough start to beat Norfolk State 55-12 Saturday.

The Mountaineers (2-0) scored on their first seven possessions of the second half to erase a 12-10 halftime deficit to an FCS opponent.

West Virginia needed just three plays to find the end zone after halftime, and after Smith hit Ivan McCartney with a 39-yard TD toss early in the fourth, the Mountaineers had scored five touchdowns in a 15-minute span.

Smith finished 20 of 34 passing after going 8 of 18 in the first half.

West Virginia's defense woke up, too, limiting Norfolk State (1-1) to two first downs in the second half. The Mountaineers have yet to allow an offensive touchdown in their first two games.

West Virginia now has tougher tests at Maryland next week and at home Sept. 24 against No. 2 LSU.

This game may be remembered for the early scare the Spartans put into West Virginia.

Norfolk State's offense exposed some weaknesses in West Virginia's secondary and the Mountaineers were outgained 242-143 by halftime.

West Virginia got little run production for the second straight game. Four different running backs got carries, with Vernard Roberts leading the way with 64 yards on 17 carries.

Smith held the ball too long at times and even got sacked once by Norfolk State's three-man rush.

West Virginia didn't get its initial first down until there were 2 minutes gone in the second quarter. The Mountaineers couldn't get into the end zone on three trips inside the Norfolk State 20 in the first half. Fans booed after West Virginia took six plays on first-and-goal from the 1 without punching it in and settled for a short field goal.

Things finally started clicking for the Mountaineers when they made five first downs on an 81-yard drive that ended with Smith's 18-yard scoring toss to Devon Brown midway through the second quarter.

But Corey Smith shanked a 15-yard punt to give Norfolk State the ball at the West Virginia 37 with 29 seconds left. A roughing the passer call on Bruce Irvin put the Spartans in field-goal range and Ryan Estep's 40-yarder put Norfolk State ahead at halftime.

It was the Spartans' fourth field goal of the half. Everett Goldberg hit from 50 yards in the first quarter and Estep also had a pair of 39-yarders.

Eventually, Norfolk State wore down and West Virginia needed less than 2 minutes on four of its first five second-half touchdown drives to turn it into a rout.

Smith also had scoring tosses of 3 yards to Tavon Austin and 12 yards to Tyler Urban. Backup Paul Millard finished the game and threw a 30-yard scoring strike to Brad Starks with 3:18 remaining.

Norfolk State's Chris Walley went 16 of 27 for 136 yards. Xavier Boyce caught eight passes for 100 yards.

The Spartans also were penalized 19 times for 177 yards.
 

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