WHEELING — The West Virginia Roughriders gave the fans of Wheeling a glimpse of the high-powered offense they will be bringing to WesBanco Arena on Saturday
Wheeling’s new favorite indoor football team nearly reached 100 points in a 95-18 drubbing of the Burgh Defenders in the season opener.
The Roughriders scored three touchdowns on the first five plays from scrimmage for a quick 20-0 upperhand and the rout was on.
“We just wanted to play together and get off to a quick start and punch them in the mouth,” Roughriders coach Mook Zimmerman said. “We did give them a few points because I think we kind of let off the gas.”
West Virginia was led by wide receiver Larry Beavers Jr., who finished with eight receptions for 131 yards and seven touchdowns in the blowout.
Along with Beavers, Madonna graduate Connor Arlia pulled in four passes for 57 yards and two scores and West Virginia standout and fan favorite Noel Devine made five receptions for 51 yards.
Finding these talented targets was starting quarterback and former Mountaineer Jarrett Brown, who provided 207 yards and five scores.
“We have some really talented guys on offense,” Brown said. “That helps and my job is to get the ball in their hands.
“Our offensive line did a great job, too. It was a great team effort across the board.
From coaches to the players, the offensive line, guys catching the ball, we came up with that dub.”
According to Zimmerman, Brown deserves some of that credit, too.
“He has a great arm and he is mobile,” Zimmerman said. “He’s just the total package and I’m glad he’s on my side.”
Brown found Beavers for a 30-yard strike and score on the first play from scrimmage.
The Defenders’ first offensive play was a fumble, which led to a Joe Lofton 2-yard plunge into the end zone.
Brian Price made his presence felt on the next play, intercepting a pass and taking it 25 yards to paydirt for a 20-0 lead.
“The most important thing is we do what works for us,” Brown said. “Coach did a great job of getting the ball in everyone’s hands.
“We did our job of executing for him and that was the key. We played as a team.”
Devine brought the crowd to its feet in the third as he fielded a kickoff and dashed past Defenders for a 42-yard touchdown.
Not long after, he was ejected for throwing a punch, along with teammate Duke Robinson.
Larry Ford of WVU led the defense with a sack in the end zone for a safety and a forced fumble in the end zone, which was recovered for a touchdown by Joe Phillips.
Arlia capped the season opener with a 3-yard touchdown reception from backup quarterback Drew Bolton, who tallied four touchdowns.
Arlia’s big play came moments after taking a huge hit to the head on a catch that was called back on a penalty. It didn’t phase him as he bounced back up and found the end zone.
“That hit rang my bell a little bit,” Arlia said. “I should have got in the end zone there. Drew threw a great ball.”
As for the fans, they were thrilled to see football back in Wheeling and the Roughriders were happy for the support.
“I really didn’t know what to expect,” Brown said. “Prior to the game a lot of people in the community said they were excited and they came out. I saw some familiar faces from the community here.
“It was a great turnout and we thank them for coming out. We love the support.”