Backup Alvin Swoope ran for a career-high 141 yards and two touchdowns in the first half and Marc Bulger threw for three scores as No. 17 West Virginia opened its Big East Conference season with a 37-7 pasting of winless Temple at Veterans Stadium.
Swoope, in for the injured Amos Zereoue, gave the Mountaineers (4-1, 1-0 Big East) a 7-0 lead with a seven-yard touchdown run 1:25 into the game. The junior added a one-yard scoring run early in the second and left after only 16 carries due to a minor neck injury.
"It was a tremendous feeling," Swoope said. "I was trying to be focused on what I had to do. When the opportunity came, I just took advantage of it. It (the injury) is nothing serious. I think it was on the last play before the half, I hit helmet-to-helmet with one of the linebackers."
"We don't change our offense if Amos isn't in there," said West Virginia coach Don Nehlen. "Swoope doesn't have the speed that Amos has, but he's a nifty little guy."
Zereoue, The Mountaineers' all-time leading rusher, did not dress due to a deep thigh bruise. He will receive another week of rest before West Virginia's next game, October 24th against Miami.
| West Virginia's Alvin Swoope leaps over teammate Brock Holland in the first quarter Saturday. (AP) |
Bulger threw touchdown passes of 24 and 52 yards to David Saunders and then completed the scoring with a 40-yard strike to Pat Green 1:28 into the fourth quarter. He also threw three TD passes in a 42-20 victory over Maryland on September 19th.
West Virginia, which has never lost to Temple (0-6, 0-2) in Big East competition, recorded its ighth consecutive victory over the Owls. Temple has not beaten the Mountaineers since 1984 and trails the all-time series, 19-11.
"I thought our kids did pretty good," Nehlen said. "I thought they were business-like. We could've put some points on the board and I kept some other guys in there, but we wanted to play some guys."
West Virginia received the game's opening kickoff, and on the second play from scrimmage, Swoope burst up the middle for a 46-yard gain to the 7-yard line. He took the handoff on the next play and went around the left end for the score.
"I think our first drive on three plays, we knew," said Bulger. "Maybe we shouldn't have thought that we were going to dominate the game, but I think we knew we were going to dominate the game. Even though it was a close game for a while, I don't think our offense was really worried."
Temple wide receiver Kenyatta Carter saw things differently.
"It was a big game .. I thought we were going to win," Carter said. "We got in the red zone at least four or five times. We just didn't make the plays."
The Owls got their only points of the day on the ensuing possession when Jason McKie powered his way up the middle for a 13-yard score.
But Swoope put the Mountaineers back on top with his one-yard TD, and after Scooter Davis picked off backup quarterback Greg Muckerson on the next possession, Bulger made it 20-7 with a 24-yard strike to Saunders.
"You're dealing with kids," Temple coach Bobby Wallace said when asked about the interception. "That's the only answer I got to that. Why in the world if you're getting knocked out of bounds (would) you throw the ball down field?"
Jon Ohliger kicked a 31-yard field goal for West Virginia early in the third quarter before Saunders, who hauled in five passes for 101 yards, was on the receiving end of Bulger's 52-yard touchdown bomb. Bulger connected on 14-of-20 passes for 257 yards.
Muckerson completed 2-of-12 passes for 54 yards after starter Kevin Harvey, who attempted only two throws, departed with a shoulder injury early in the game. Stacey Mack carried nine times for 51 yards for the Owls.
Muckerson also left with a shoulder injury in the third quarter and third-stringer Mac Devito completed 1-of-2 for 10 yards.
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