MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Kay-Jay Harris answered questions about his durability and whether he could become West Virginia's next star running back.
Harris ran for a school-record 337 yards and four touchdowns to
lead (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today, No. 10 AP) West Virginia to a 56-23 victory over East Carolina on Saturday night.
"Every time I just ran to daylight," said Harris, who had 524
yards last year as Quincy Wilson's backup. "This is a sign of
things to come."
Harris, who had 25 carries, broke the school record of 291 yards
set by Kerry Marbury in 1971 against Temple. It also was a Big East
record, eclipsing the mark of 299 set by Miami's Edgerrin James in
1998 against UCLA.
Jason Colson added two scores as West Virginia's platoon rushing
attack continued the Mountaineers' recent dominance of East
Carolina in the opener for both teams.
The Mountaineers compiled 478 yards on the ground. In the two
previous seasons, they ran for 361 and a Big East-record 536
against the Pirates.
"They ran over, through and around us," East Carolina coach
John Thompson said. "The success they've had against us the past
few years is unbelievable."
Harris was slowed by various leg injuries during preseason camp.
There were doubts about whether he could become West Virginia's
ninth straight 1,000-yard rusher.
West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez had questioned Harris'
ability to carry the ball 25 to 30 times a game after he reported
to camp at 245 pounds. He shed 20 pounds during camp.
"I think I answered that question tonight," Harris said.
Colson was selected the starter for the season opener late in
the week. Harris entered the game on the third play and ran for 223
yards by halftime.
He set the records midway through the fourth quarter, breaking a
tackle and going 76 yards up the left sideline for his fourth
score. His others came from 2, 5 and 51 yards in the first half.
"At the half, I came into the locker room and asked the O-line,
'How do you all feel about breaking the record?' " Harris said.
"And they said, Let's do it."
Rodriguez said he was unaware of how many yards or carries
Harris had during the game.
"We were just trying to get into a rhythm and get into a
flow," Rodriguez said. "He got a good workout in today."
West Virginia made the game a rout with three touchdowns in a
2:27 span of the second quarter, including Adam Jones' 76-yard punt
return sandwiched around two Harris TDs.
Four of West Virginia's eight touchdowns were 50 yards or
Chris Henry, a 1,000-yard receiver last year, made up for two
first-half personal foul penalties by catching a 60-yard TD pass
from Rasheed Marshall on the first series of the second half.
"I definitely did not expect the big play to come this easy,"
Marshall said. "This offense has the capability to score quickly,
and we can do it more than we did tonight. There were mistakes that
should not have been made."
West Virginia had nearly as many yards in penalties (141) as
East Carolina sputtered at times under first-year offensive
coordinator Noah Brindise, an assistant under Steve Spurrier at
Florida and with the Washington Redskins.
James Pinkney was 26-of-51 for 322 yards and three scores in his
fourth career start. But he was intercepted twice, and 1,000-yard
backs Marvin Townes and Art Brown were held to a combined 36 yards
East Carolina has lost 12 straight nonconference games.