By Colin Dunlap | 4:15 p.m. Saturday
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. -- It wasn't crisp at times and not the outright blowout some were probably expecting but, nonetheless, West Virginia (1-0) began the season with a win today, defeating Liberty (0-1) in the season opener, 33-20, at Mountaineer Field.
West Virginia running back Noel Devine finally put enough distance between his team and Liberty with 6:57 remaining, zipping around the left end to make it 33-13 in a game in which it seemed they could just never fully extinguish the opponent.
It was a little too close for comfort for the Mountaineers from the very beginning.
The teams traded field goals, then touchdowns, over the first 18:08, advancing the score to 10-10 early in the second quarter and jolting West Virginia, forcing the Mountaineers to understand this Liberty team coached by Fox Chapel High School graduate Danny Rocco was, in fact, no walkover.
From there, the Mountaineers buckled down a bit, advancing it to 17-10 midway through the second quarter when quarterback Jarrett Brown (pictured, above) ran a designed draw for a 22-yard touchdown and then adding two Tyler Bitancurt field goals--from 35 and 45 yards--in the final two minutes of the half to take a 23-10 halftime lead.
That advantage was narrowed to 23-13 on a 49-yard field goal by Liberty's Matt Bevins with 5:21 left in the third then bounced back to a 13-point Mountaineers lead in the waning seconds of the third quarter on a 36-yard Bitancurt field goal.
After the Devine touchdown put West Virginia ahead 33-13, Liberty quarterback Mike Brown scored from 9 yards with 51.6 seconds left to make it 33-20 before the Mountaineers ran out the remainder of the clock.