Run and Shoot: Slaton, White cook Rice, Rutgers

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Slaton, White cook Rice, Rutgers

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers rides Ray Rice.

It's a nice weapon to have, unless you are playing West Virginia, as the Scarlet Knights did on a dreary, drizzly, windy Saturday afternoon.

Then it's like going into an axe fight with a knife.

Oh, West Virgnia couldn't put a saddle on Rice, the horse Rutgers was riding. He recorded his 20th 100-yard game for Rutgers, which is a school record, while surpassing 4,000 rushing yards to become the first Scarlet Knight to accomplish such a feat.

Didn't matter.

See, the No. 7-ranked Mountaineers, have an arsenal of weapons in running back Steve Slaton and quarterback Patrick White.

The performances of the two allowed the Mountaineers to simply shrug at Rice's 4- and 5- and 6-yard gains while running up a convincing 31-3 victory to move to 7-1, 2-1 in the Big East Conference. As for Rutgers, the defeat in front of a home sellout of 43,620 that had more than just their spirits dampened, left the Scarlet Knight with three losses in a season that began with great promise.

IIt was a game of big plays, and all of them were made by West Virginia, be they White running or White throwing, Slaton running or Slaton running after catching passes.

Slaton wasted little time establishing the difference between West Virginia's razzle and dazzle offense and Rutgers' Little Red Choo Choo "I think I can, I think I can offense." To understand this, consider that Rice had 16 first-quarter carries, to put him on a pace to carry the ball 64 times in the game.

Slaton had five carries but one of them was an improvised 38-yard touchdown run. The "O" on the play, as drawn by Coach Rich Rodriguez, was supposed to run to the left but Rutgers had a welcoming committee awaiting Slaton, so he changed direction, made a nifty fake, then cut to the right sideline and dived into the end zone.

It was his first of three touchdowns in the game, which give him 52 for his career, only the second Big East back with more than 50 touchdowns. Lee Suggs of Virignia Tech holds the record at 56.

White gave the Mountaineers their second score from the Rutgers 1, spectacular only in that he fumbled as he was going in and had survive a review.

WVU led, 17-3, at the half and Rutgers seemed prepared to make a run at them, naturally with Rice doing the running. On their first possession, the Scarlet Knights built a 13-play drive around Rice that stalled with a holding penalty and ended with a missed field goal.

Stilol, then seemed to have momentum, especially when they had WVU facing a third and 7 at its own 21 on its next possession.

On this play Rodriguez called for a screen pass from White to Slaton, a play that broke open when left guard Ryan Stanchek cut not one defender to the turf to prolong Slaton's life as a runner, then gave him a lane as he got to his feet and made yet another cut block.

By the time Slaton was wrapped up he had 51 yards and WVU had a first down at the Rutgers' 27. Five plays later, Slaton circled left end for a score that made it 24-3.

Now it was just a matter of what White or Slaton would do next, Rice being taken out of the equation by the score and Rutgers receivers unable to catch anything except for a cold, dropping seven passes, two in the end zone.

White broke loose for another long gainer in the fourth quarter, slithering for 50 yards to set up another Slaton TD, this one from six yards out.


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