West Virginia starts season with big win over Tennessee
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Will Grier got his Heisman Trophy campaign off to an impressive start, throwing for 429 yards and five touchdowns as No. 17 West Virginia defeated Tennessee, 40-14, on Saturday in a game delayed for more than an hour at halftime because of lightning.
Leading 13-7 at halftime, the Associated Press preseason All-American turned up the heat in the third quarter, connecting on touchdown passes of 33 yards to David Sills, 28 yards to Gary Jennings and 14 yards to Kennedy McCoy as the Mountaineers opened a 33-14 lead.
Grier, who grew up in the Charlotte area and once threw 10 TD passes in a high school playoff game, was 14 of 19 for 275 yards and four TDs in the second half.
Sills had seven grabs for 140 yards and two touchdowns after 18 TD receptions last season.
Tim Jordan ran for 118 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown for Tennessee, which lost in Jeremy Pruitt’s coaching debut. Pruitt won six national championships as a defensive coach, including last year at Alabama, but his Vols had no answer for Grier and the high-powered Mountaineers offense.
While Grier lived up to his preseason hype, what might have been most impressive for the Mountaineers was the play of their defense in holding the Vols to just two touchdowns. They set the tone for the game by forcing Tennessee to go three-and-out on the game’s first possession after two tackles for a loss of 15 yards.
West Virginia linebacker Charlie Benton left the game in the first half with a sprained knee and did not return.
The Mountaineers will be big favorites when they host Youngstown State next Saturday night.