MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - 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 was the third stringer only a week ago, but after a solid week of practice, coach Dana Holgorsen named him the starter over Paul Millard and Clint Trickett.
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.
Georgia State was limited to 10 first downs. Quarterback Ronnie Bell went 5 of 13 for 63 yards before being replaced in the fourth quarter by Ben McLane.
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.