Run and Shoot: WVU wins Big East title

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WVU wins Big East title

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The Big East title safely tucked away in a championship rout of Connecticut, West Virginia University's third-ranked Mountaineers stand one victory away from the BCS championship game.

Using their speed and depth and a heroic performance from quarterback Patrick White, who is running his way into the Heisman Trophy race, the Mountaineers ran around and through UConn to take their fourth title in the last five years by a rather ridiculous 66-21 score before a sellout crowd of 59,701 at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium.

With No. 1 LSU having been upset by Arkansas, 50-48, in triple overtime on Friday night, WVU is in line to play for the national title if it can win the 100th renewal of the Backyard Brawl against Pitt next Saturday night.


Coach Rich Rodriguez certainly believes the ountaineers are in line for the shot if they win and he says that makes the Pitt game the biggest his team has ever played.

"This was a big one today," he said. "The Sugar Bowl was a b ig one. But this one, let's just say, I think it will be sold out."

The Mountaineers used the speed of White, who is making a strong push for Heisman Trophy consideration; running backs Noel Devine and Steve Slaton, and wide receiver Darius Reynaud to turn the game into a track meet.

"I'm biased," admitted WVU Coach Rich Rodriguez, "but I think Pat White is the best football player in the country. I'm sure the other coaches feel the same way about their players."

But Urban Meyer and Houston Nutt aren't a win away from playing for the national title and if WVU gets there they will do so in great part because of White's ability and attitude.

His teammates certainly think he belongs in New York when the Heisman is anounnced. In the first half defensive back Vaughn Rivers stood alongside him on the sideline and did the Heisman pose.

"He's too modest to do it himself," Rivers said.

And in the second half it was safety Ryan Mundy who did likewise beside White. White's response?

"He pointed at his finger, saying 'I want the ring,'" Mundy said.

White was dazzling as he snaked his way through UConn defenders, rushing for a seaosn high 186 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 11.6 yards a carry and could have gained 250 or more yards had he not left after three quarters.

What no one in the stands or the media knew was the White was sick to his stomach all day, throwing up by his count as many as 12 times during the game. There's no telling how sick he made the Connecticut defenders who were chasing him.

"They must have gotten sick, because most of the times I threw up was when they tackled me," he said.

Devine came in late when Slaton, who scored two touchdowns, was struggling to gain yards, finishing with just 54. Devine went past that with two third-quarter carries and joined White in the 100-yard club with 118 yards on 11 carries.

"We got a spark out of little No. 7," said Rodriguez, referring to Devine.

Connecticut came into the game with a chance to win the Big East title with a victory but it never had a chance, even though it did score the game's first touchdown, marching 93 yards on its first possession for a 7-0 lead.

That lead dissolved almost as quickly as you can say Patrick White, who has gained 644 yards rushing in his last four games while completing 48 of 69 passes for 572 yards and three touchdowns.

White raced for 14 yards on his first carry, then connected with Darius Reynaud on his first pass for 49 yards to the UConn 3.

One play later the game was tied, White taking the ball over right guard, stretching out and reaching for the tying touchdown.

UConn forced WVU to punt later in the quarter but it was anything but a good thing for the Huskies as Jaspar Howard, who had returned only six punts all year, fumbled when hit by Trippe Hale. WVU safety Ryan Mundy

It took one play for White to get WVU into the end zone, hitting Darius Reynaud with a 14-yard TD pass to make it 14-7.

Both teams settled in as the game moved into the second quarter with WVU widening its advantage to 17-7 on placekicker Pat McAfee's 46-yard field goal

It took a big play on defensive play by WVU lionebacker Mortty Ivy to set up the Mountaineers' next score. On a third and 3 at the WVU 35, Lorenzen faded to pass by the blitzing Ivy knocked the ball from his grasp. As Ivy lay on the ground, UConn tackle William Beatty picked it up, only to have Ivy slap it loose.

Mountaineer safety Ryan Mundy fell on the ball, giving WVU good field position at its own 40.

Facing a third and 10, White had to scramble, which isn't always a bad thing. Two jukes and a burst of speed netted him 29 yards to the UConn 31. Huffing and puffing now, the UConn defense couldn't beat Slaton to the corner and he burst down the sideline 31 yards to the touchdown.

Those two runs by White and Slaton elevated both of them past 1,000 yards for the season, making them just the third teammates in NCAA history to each gain 1,000 or more yards in consecutive seasons, joining Darren McFadden and Felix Jones of Arkansas and Marion Barber and Laurence Maroney of Minnesota.

UConn would strike back before the half to remain within shooting distance. Running back Donald Brown, who had 113 rushing yards in the first half to become only the second back to go beyond 100 yards against WVU this year, broke loose for a 44-yard run to set up his own 4-yard score that left it 24-14 at the half.

West Virginia's speed took control of the game in the third quarter. The Mountaineers took the kickoff and White gained 34 yards on two plays but the drive seemed to be stalling when WVU found itself facing a third and 15 at the UConn 24.

To make matters worse, White was in trouble as he rolled to the right to pass, two defenders standing unblocked before him. A problem? Hardly. White just made as smooth a cut to the left as anyone has ever seen on this field and raced 24 yards into the end zone as fans first fell silent in awe, then let forth with a loud cheer.

The run was similar to one by former quarterback Major Harris against Penn State in 1988 that is considered the greatest run in WVU historoy, Harris going in the wrong direction and making nine Penn State defenders miss tackles before scoring from 26 yards out.

Slaton was struggling gaining yards so Coach Rich Rodriguez decided to put some fresh legs that belonged to Noel Devine into the game. Connecticut never knew what hit it, Devine bursting loose for 36 yards and then 25 yards and into the end zone to increase the lead to 38-14.

Slaton's second touchdown from 3 yards out made it 45-14 and the defense added a touchdown when linebacker Reed Williams recovered a fumble in the UConn end zone to make it 52-14.WVU gave up an early score as Connecticut marched 93 yards on its first possession, taking a 7-0 lead on a pass from Tyler Lorenzen to Brad Knauch from 6 yards out.

It didn't take long for White, who has been red hot over the prior three games 458 rushing yards on 73 attempts, to get WVU back into the game, racinjg for 14 yards on his first carry then connecting with Darius Reynaud on his first pass for 49 yards to the UConn 3.

One play later the game was tied, White taking the ball over right guard, stretching out and reaching for the tying touchdown.

UConn forced WVU to punt later in the quarter but it was anything but a good thing for the Huskies as Jaspar Howard, who had returned only six punts all year, fumbled when hit by Trippe Hale. WVU safety Ryan Mundy

It took one play for White to get WVU into the end zone, hitting Darius Reynaud with a 14-yard TD pass to make it 14-7.

Both teams settled in as the game moved into the second quarter with WVU widening its advantage to 17-7 on placekicker Pat McAfee's 46-yard field goal

It took a big play on defensive play by WVU lionebacker Mortty Ivy to set up the Mountaineers' next score. On a third and 3 at the WVU 35, Lorenzen faded to pass by the blitzing Ivy knocked the ball from his grasp. As Ivy lay on the ground, UConn tackle William Beatty picked it up, only to have Ivy slap it loose.

Mountaineer safety Ryan Mundy fell on the ball, giving WVU good field position at its own 40.

Facing a third and 10, White had to scramble, which isn't always a bad thing. Two jukes and a burst of speed netted him 29 yards to the UConn 31. Huffing and puffing now, the UConn defense couldn't beat Slaton to the corner and he burst down the sideline 31 yards to the touchdown.

Those two runs by White and Slaton elevated both of them past 1,000 yards for the season, making them just the third teammates in NCAA history to each gain 1,000 or more yards in consecutive seasons, joining Darren McFadden and Felix Jones of Arkansas and Marion Barber and Laurence Maroney of Minnesota.

UConn would strike back before the half to remain within shooting distance. Running back Donald Brown, who had 113 rushing yards in the first half to become only the second back to go beyond 100 yards against WVU this year, broke loose for a 44-yard run to set up his own 4-yard score that left it 24-14 at the half.

West Virginia's speed took control of the game in the third quarter. The Mountaineers took the kickoff and White gained 34 yards on two plays but the drive seemed to be stalling when WVU found itself facing a third and 15 at the UConn 24.

To make matters worse, White was in trouble as he rolled to the right to pass, two defenders standing unblocked before him. A problem? Hardly. White just made as smooth a cut to the left as anyone has ever seen on this field and raced 24 yards into the end zone as fans first fell silent in awe, then let forth with a loud cheer.

Slaton was struggling gaining yards so Coach Rich Rodriguez decided to put some fresh legs that belonged to Noel Devine into the game. Connecticut never knew what hit it, Devine bursting loose for 36 yards and then 25 yards and into the end zone to increase the lead to 38-14.

Slaton's second touchdown from 3 yards out made it 45-14 and the defense added a touchdown when linebacker Reed Williams recovered a fumble in the UConn end zone to make it 52-14.

As an afterthought, WVU added a pair of touchdowns to complete their most thorough thrashing of an opponent since beating Rutgers, 80-7, in 2001.

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