MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – When fans look back on the 2023 West Virginia university football season, it’s likely they’ll remember the Backyard Brawl win over Pitt, the faulty Big 12 preseason poll, and the Mountaineers’ final two home games of the season.
WVU took care of business against BYU two weeks ago in Morgantown, and that energy replicated itself Saturday in a 42-21 win over Cincinnati on Senior Day.
The Mountaineers outscored BYU and Cincinnati 79-28 to close out its 2023 home schedule.
Though there was a spotlight on WVU’s 12 seniors – all of whom were recognized pregame – junior quarterback Garrett Greene stole the show for his best performance in a Mountaineer uniform.
Greene exploded for 210 passing yards (12-of-19 passing with an interception), 154 rushing yards and four total touchdowns for his best performance in a Mountaineer uniform.
Saturday was the first time a WVU quarterback threw for over 200 yards and rushed for over 150 yards in one game. It was only the fifth time a Mountaineer QB accomplished over 200 yards passing with over 100 yards rushing.
The game also marked the first time a WVU player recorded multiple three-touchdown games on the ground in a season since Steve Slaton accomplished the feat in 2007 (Rutgers, Maryland).
In typical Neal Brown fashion, WVU won the coin toss and opted to receive the opening kickoff. On the first play from scrimmage, Greene unloaded for a 28-yard connection with freshman receiver Traylon Ray.
The Mountaineers’ opening drive may have stalled and ended in a miss field goal, but it also foreshadowed a day of offensive success to come. WVU scored touchdowns on six of its 10 drives Saturday afternoon.
Cincinnati opted to punt on fourth-and-short from midfield on its first drive, and it appeared to be the right call after the Bearcats pinned WVU inside its own 10-yard line. That sentiment was short lived.
WVU marched down the field 91 yards on 14 plays for its first score of the game on a three-yard quarterback keeper from Greene. It was the first of his three rushing touchdowns Saturday.
On the Mountaineers’ next drive, Greene found freshman Jahiem White on a corner route for a 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown for the 14-0 lead. It is currently WVU’s longest play from scrimmage so far this year.
CJ Donaldson – who was a game-time decision with an ankle injury – added a 14-yard scoring run off the bench in the second quarter, and WVU led 21-0 before Cincinnati took a snap on the Mountaineers’ side of the field.
Cincinnati scored to cut the lead to 21-7, but Greene led a crisp two-minute drill in which he scored on a 26-yard scramble to cap a four-play scoring drive. At halftime, Greene had 139 passing yards (one touchdown) and 136 rushing yards (two touchdowns) to his name, while WVU held a 28-7 lead.
After scoring two touchdowns on 10 plays, the Mountaineers imposed their will on the Bearcats on their opening drive of the second half. Greene marched WVU down the field for a 12-play, 88-yard scoring drive that took over seven minutes off the clock. Greene recorded his third rushing score of the day on an 18-yard run.
White added his only rushing touchdown of the night on a four-yard run to extend WVU’s lead to 42-7 in the third quarter. He also produced a career game with 279 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.
Cincinnati scored two garbage-time touchdowns, but WVU held on for a convincing 42-21 win.
The Mountaineers wrap up the regular-season schedule on the road against Baylor next week.