MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Redshirt freshman Ford Childress threw for 359 yards and three touchdowns in his college debut, leading West Virginia to a 41-7 win over Georgia State on Saturday.
Charles Sims rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown for the Mountaineers (2-1), who got the scoring boost they needed after a poor performance last week in which they scored just seven points in a loss at Oklahoma.
Childress completed 25 of 41 passes in his first start. But West Virginia was far from dominant on both sides of the ball against a team in its first year in the Football Bowl Subdivision and fourth year of existence.
Georgia State pulled within 17-7 after Travis Evans' 65-yard TD run early in the third quarter before West Virginia scored the final 24 points.
Evans finished with 118 yards rushing, but Georgia State (0-3) was limited to 220 yards of total offense.
Childress made some typical rookie mistakes, consistently underthrowing his receivers and not seeing others who were open. He threw an interception against a blitzing defense inside the Georgia State 30 early in the second quarter to end one scoring threat. Kevin White also dropped two passes, one in the end zone in the third quarter.
Childress completed passes to nine different receivers and connected on several long passes, including a 45-yard TD toss that Ivan McCartney waited on in the second quarter that put the Mountaineers ahead 17-0.
Midway through the third quarter, West Virginia linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski forced Jonathan Jean-Bart to fumble and safety Karl Joseph recovered for the Mountaineers at the Georgia State 33. Three plays later, Childress threw a 23-yard pass that Daikiel Shorts caught just off the turf in the end zone for a 34-7 lead. Shorts also had a 21-yard TD catch in the first quarter.
Dreamius Smith scored on a 10-yard in the closing seconds for the Mountaineers.
West Virginia's offense compiled 604 total yards while struggling to move the ball at times. The line had trouble consistently opening adequate holes against a defense that had allowed an average of 253 yards rushing in its first two games against FCS opponents.
After scoring on its first two drives, the Mountaineers failed to put up points in five of their next six possessions, giving Georgia State many chances for a comeback that didn't happen.
Led by Evans, Georgia State compiled 136 yards on the ground -- more than its first two games combined. Evans' TD run was the longest in the school's brief football history.
Evans found some room behind a retooled offensive line that saw two players quit after a loss to Chattanooga a week ago, when the Panthers were limited to 30 yards rushing.
College football recruiting notebook: New coaches making moves, uncommitted five-stars and more
Two uncommitted five-star prospects are available, but with the transfer portal's emergence, recruiting isn't limited to high school players anymore.
California Golden Bears football coach Justin Wilcox signs extension through 2027
California announced Thursday that it has extended football coach Justin Wilcox through the 2027 season.
Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall to miss spring practice after surgery
- Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall will miss spring practice because of an offseason surgery.
NCAA member schools vote to ratify new streamlined constitution
NCAA member schools voted to ratify a new, pared-down constitution Thursday, paving the way for a decentralized approach to governing college sports that will hand more power to schools and conferences.
Ex-Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman Tommy Brown transfers to Colorado Buffaloes
Offensive lineman Tommy Brown announced on Thursday that he will transfer from Alabama to Colorado.
Should Jim Harbaugh leave Michigan to coach the Raiders?
Bill Barnwell analyzes if Jim Harbaugh should go back to the NFL and coach the Raiders.