ECU’s woes continue with 56-20 pounding at West Virginia

Appalachian State bounces back from opening loss with rout of Savannah State; Charlotte falls at nationally ranked Kansas State

ECU's Quay Johnson is gang-tackled by three West Virginia Mountaineers during Saturday's 56-20 loss in Morgantown (Ben Queen/USA TODAY)

MORGANTOWN, WVa. — It took until the second half for things to unravel on the East Carolina football team in its season opening loss to James Madison last week.

Saturday, the Pirates didn’t have to wait that long to be put out of their misery at West Virginia.

The Mountaineers took care of business early by scoring on seven of their eight first half possessions on the way to piling up 619 yards of total offense and a 56-20 pounding of coach Scottie Montgomery’s reeling team at Mountaineer Field.

The loss was ECU’s 11th in its last 12 games dating back to last season and dropped it to 0-2 at the start of a season for the first time since 2011.

“Plain and simple, defensively we didn’t show up,” Montgomery said afterward. Offensively (in the first half), it was just penalty, snap, penalty, penalty, interception, interception. You name it, we were not playing good football.”

The Pirates actually got off to a promising start after allowing a WVU touchdown on the opening possession of the game. Quarterback Thomas Sirk led his team on a 70-yard, 15-play drive that culminated in a 23-yard field goal by Jake Verity.

But ECU stalled after getting to within 7-3 and with the help of two Sirk interceptions, the Mountaineers put their foot on the gas and didn’t let up until the game was well out of reach. They led 49-3 at halftime, the most points the Pirates have ever surrendered in the first half of a game.

“Defensively, at the beginning of the game we just didn’t slow them down at all,” Montgomery said. “And if you don’t slow them down and they’re scoring at will and scoring at will and scoring at will and they’re running tempo on us, it makes it hard to stay in the game.”

WVU quarterback Will Grier, a transfer from Florida, threw for 352 yards and five touchdowns in his first home game as a Mountaineer.

ECU has given up more than 600 total yards in both of its first two games. And things won’t get any easier next week with defending ACC Coastal Division champion Virginia Tech coming to Greenville.

The Pirates made the final score a little more respectable 17-7 in the second half. Sirk, a transfer from Duke, threw his first ECU touchdown pass when he hit Jimmy Williams with a 19-yard pass midway through the third quarter.

The touchdown pass was the Sirk’s only completion in the final nine passes he threw before being knocked from the game after taking a hard hit to the head. He finished 16 of 34 for 191 yards.

Opening night starter Gardner Minshew then came in and went 7 of 13 for 137 yards, 95 of which came on a touchdown pass to Trevon Brown — who got into the end zone for the first time since Nov. 19, 2015, after being academically ineligible last season. The play was the longest touchdown pass in ECU history.

The final score was almost identical to the result the last time the Pirates played the Mountaineers in their home opener. That was in 2004, when WVU won 56-23.

Appalachian State 54, Savannah State 7

BOONE — Quarterback Taylor Lamb tied a school single-game record by throwing five touchdown passes as the Mountaineers bounced back from an opening week loss at Georgia with a rout of FCS opponent Savannah State. Lamb played only two quarters, completing 12 of his 15 passes for 327 yards as the Mountaineers (1-1) took a 45-0 lead into halftime at Kidd Brewer Stadium.

Lamb matched the five-TD total accomplished previously by four App State quarterbacks: DeAndre Presley in 2010, Armanti Edwards in 2008, Richie Williams in 2004 and Pat Murphy in 1967 and 1968.

In surpassing his previous single-game high of four touchdown passes, Lamb connected twice with tight end Collin Reed and once apiece with tight end Levi Duffield, receiver Zy Lettman and receiver Jalen Vigil.

No. 19 Kansas State 55, Charlotte 7

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Safety Kendall Adams returned a pair of interceptions for touchdowns as the Wildcats breezed to a win.

Adams recorded interception returns of 30 and 46 yards as Kansas State (2-0) bolted to a 31-7 lead in the second quarter. The Wildcats have 109 non-offensive touchdowns since 1999, the most in the nation by any FBS team.

Kansas State quarterback Jesse Ertz was an efficient 16 of 21 for 178 yards. Hassan Klugh was 8 of 19 for 33 yards and scored the lone touchdown for Charlotte (0-2).