Virginia exercised two options on the football field tonight. Quarterback Don Majkowski got to decide whether to pitch or keep the ball and Coach George Welsh decided which tailback he would pitch it to.
In both cases, things turned out right, as the Cavaliers easily defeated West Virginia, 27-7.
Running the triple option from the I formation, Majkowski got the ball to his tailbacks, Barry Word and Howard Petty, 42 times. Word ran for 148 yards on 26 carries and Petty had 70 yards on 16 carries.
"We knew we'd run the option," said Majkowski, who carried eight times for 54 yards. "But we had no idea it would be so effective."
It was so effective that Welsh would have been right in playing either Word or Petty at any time.
"Things were wide open for us," said Word, who started. "The platoon thing is great. As long as both of us get the ball, it's no problem."
Virginia (5-3) ran for 351 yards and had 440 yards in total offense. West Virginia (4-3-1) could manage only 231 total yards.
The Cavaliers ran up a 21-0 lead in the first half, when their domination on the ground was most evident. In the first half, they scored on a 15-yard run by Majkowski, who faked a pitch to Word, on a four-yard run by Kevin Morgan and on a one-yard run by Petty.
West Virginia got on the scoreboard with 7:39 remaining in the third quarter when quarterback Mike Timko, who replaced starter John Talley in the second quarter, hit Tom Gray with a 23-yard scoring pass.
Timko replaced Talley because the starter failed to generate any offense. The Mountaineers had only two first downs in the first half.
"In the first half we couldn't do anything," said West Virginia Coach Don Nehlen.
Virginia got its final touchdown with 5:44 to play. Majkowski, who completed eight of 15 passes for 95 yards, connected with split end Jon Muha for a 15-yard scoring pass. Kenny Stadlin, who had made his three previous extra-point attempts, had his final kick blocked.
Virginia built its halftime lead on three sustained drives. On their second possession of the game, the Cavaliers drove 70 yards in nine plays and scored when Majkowski faked a pitch to Word, then tucked the ball in and ran 16 yards into the end zone.
After the kickoff, West Virginia got its second and last first down of the first half before punting. The Cavaliers then drove 64 yards in 12 plays in a fashion similar to their first drive. Morgan, a battering fullback, scored from four yards out when he ran behind left tackle Jim Dombrowski, then broke to the outside.
The only difference between the first two drives was that Welsh inserted Petty in place of Word. Petty carried three times for 22 yards.
After two futile West Virginia series, the Cavaliers got the ball back at the Mountaineers' 38. Petty ran the ball seven times for 26 yards and scored with 1:04 remaining in the half when Majkowski faked into the line to Morgan and pitched it to Petty, who went around left end. Kenny Stadlin added his third extra point of the half.
The second half was considerably more sloppy. Virginia might have scored but Morgan fumbled on the goal line and Word fumbled on the six-yard line.
In between the two fumbles, the Mountaineers put together their scoring drive. Gray, who finished with 79 yards on 17 attempts -- one of the visitors' few bright spots -- ran for 29 yards on five carries to set up his touchdown reception.