West Virginia defense dominates offense in spring game

Publish date:

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) With the top two running backs sitting out, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen wondered who would step up in the annual Gold-Blue spring football game.

Receiver-turned-tailback Jacky Marcellus and redshirt freshman Dontae Thomas-Williams filled the void Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium.

Marcellus, a 5-foot-8 player from Immokalee, Florida, rushed 12 times for 47 yards and the Gold's only touchdown as the Blue defense dominated 42-10. Thomas-Williams led all rushers with 15 carries and 87 yards.

Wendell Smallwood, who rushed for a team-leading 788 yards in 2014, and Rushel Shell, who often relieved him last season, were held out for precautionary reasons.

West Virginia's Gold team lost two fumbles and an interception. The Blue defensive team dominated with nine returning starters.

''We ran about 100 plays and didn't get anybody hurt,'' said Holgorsen, who enters his fifth season and opens Sept. 5 against Georgia Southern. ''We got a lot of work done during the spring. Obviously, we have a ways to go.''

Defensive coordinator Tony Gibson begins his second season with the team.

''Defensively, I feel good where we are,'' Holgorsen said. ''We're trying to build some depth. When you don't have your regulars it hurts. Jacky went in there and did some things. Dontae was strong and we got William (Crest) in there.''

Crest, a redshirt freshman from Baltimore, was recruited as a quarterback. But because of his athleticism, he saw time as QB, running back, wide receiver and punt returner.

West Virginia's offense mustered just 10 points, including a 45-yard field goal by Josh Lambert. Lambert last season set the NCAA record for field goals of 40 yards or more (16).

Defensively, senior defensive lineman Eric Kinsey of Miami recovered two fumbles.

The Mountaineers lost Kevin White and Mario Alford, who hope to be called for the NFL draft this week. White caught 103 passes for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns, while Alford had 66 catches for 945 yards and a team-best 11 TDs.

''We were way more successful throwing the ball down field this spring than last spring, and last spring we had Kevin White and Mario Alford on the outside,'' Holgorsen said. ''That doesn't concern me. We're going to be able to get the ball downfield.''