MORGANTOWN, W.VA. (AP) - West Virginia running back Dustin Garrison couldn’t have imagined this.
In a season already filled with team struggles on the ground, the freshman rushed for 291 yards and two touchdowns to lead No. 22 West Virginia to a 55-10 win over Bowling Green on Saturday.
West Virginia’s Geno Smith continued his solid season by throwing for three scores. But for the first time, the Mountaineers (4-1) found balance in their offense.
West Virginia entered the game as one of the worst rushing teams in the FBS with 306 total yards. The Mountaineers compiled 360 yards on the ground Saturday.
“I think we found a running back,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said.
The 5-foot-8, 165-pound Garrison has emerged from a group of young runners that had struggled to gain a foothold. Garrison got his first start against LSU a week ago due to an injury to Andrew Buie and entered Saturday’s game with 65 total yards.
With the offensive line opening huge holes that had been lacking in previous games, Garrison had 233 yards by halftime and set a freshman single-game school record. He scored on runs of 19 and 8 yards in a steady rain.
His 291 yards tied for the second-highest total in school history. His 32 carries more than doubled his season total.
“The holes were there,” Garrison said. “The linemen were doing their jobs and making holes. Most of the yards that I got came from cutting off blocks that the fullbacks made.
“The game has definitely slowed down a lot since Day One. I think it’s showing. I’m seeing the holes a lot faster and hitting them a lot faster. I’m coming off blocks and running defenders into blocks, things like that. It reminds me of high school.”
Garrison had seven 200-yard games as a high school senior in Pearland, Texas.
“The more you give it to him and the more he plays, the better he gets,” Holgorsen said.
It marked the most rushing yards in a growing niche of high-scoring offenses led by Holgorsen, who was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State last year and at Houston the two years before that.
“To be honest with you, we were more worried about stopping the passing game,” Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson said. “Their quarterback is excellent and they really stretch you across the field.”
The Mountaineers showed no signs of coasting between last week’s draining home loss to LSU and the upcoming Big East opener with Connecticut. West Virginia’s 643 total yards were the most in four years and the highest ever at its 31-year-old stadium.