The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 31, 2011

Alston played like a captain

By Dave Morrison
Sports Editor

MORGANTOWN — The weather was most certainly frightful, but West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said it was delightful for WVU’s Shawne Alston.

Alston, the Mountaineers’ big back at 5-foot-11, 219 pounds, rambled for a career-best 110 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns as No. 24 WVU rallied from a 31-21 deficit Saturday to beat Rutgers 41-31.

Alston’s big afternoon in the January-like conditions at Piscataway included a 52-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and a 2-yard run in the second quarter.

“He played well and he played hard,” Holgorsen said. “He was the fastest guy on the football field, but I think the conditions set him up. Where it slowed everyone else down, it sped him up for whatever reason. He played well.”

He did and helped propel the Mountaineers to a season-best 210 rushing yards on 37 attempts. The numbers are skewed slightly, because receiver Tavon Austin had 96 yards on two attempts, including an 80-yard touchdown run.

West Virginia also had 24 yards in losses in the game.

Actually, Holgorsen knows Alston is far from being a Tavon Austin, or even one of his smaller backs.

“He is the slowest running back we have. He hasn’t changed, and he hasn’t figured out how to be the fastest guy on our team. I was being kind of facetious,” Holgorsen said. “Also, due to the weather conditions, weather neutralizes everything and there are a lot of guys that are fast and that slows them down. He is the type of player that is able to plow through some of that stuff due to him being a different kind of back.”

As the weather changes, Holgorsen knows he can rely on Alston if the conditions are poor and it disrupts the Mountaineers’ prolific passing attack.

Alston, a Hampton, Va., native, is also capable of playing more than one role, as he did Saturday.

“He also took the spot of Ryan Clarke and went in there and did a fantastic job blocking in a specific situation,” Holgorsen said. “It was his best game by far. He has been getting better over the last couple a weeks. He has played well.”

Alston, a junior, now has 247 yards on 43 carries and five touchdowns this season.

“He is a tough kid. You know you’re able to hand it to him, and he’s able to grind it out and become kind of a power back,” Holgorsen said. “There is a reason we named him a captain last week prior to the game, and then he went in and played like one.”

West Virginia (6-2, 2-1) hosts Louisville Saturday in a noon kickoff at Milan Puskar Stadium.

— E-mail: demorrison@