MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Patrick White commanded a balanced offensive attack, running for two touchdowns and throwing for two more to lead No. 3 West Virginia to a 62-24 victory over the Western Michigan Broncos Saturday afternoon at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va.
The theory to beating West Virginia is stopping its running game and forcing White to beat you with his arm. In the first quarter of Saturday’s game, that is exactly what happened, except for the part about beating West Virginia.
The Mountaineers managed just 16 yards on eight rushing attempts in the first quarter. Undaunted, White simply loosened up the Bronco defense by beating them through the air. The Daphne, Ala. native was 5-5 passing in the first period for 163 yards and two touchdowns.
“They were playing cover zero in the first half, bringing everybody up to the line,” West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez said. “We get a little stubborn sometimes and we actually probably should have thrown more passes early. We managed some screens and some swing passes and got loose a little bit.”
After hitting Dorrell Jalloh on a 19-yard crossing route for the game’s first score, White connected with backfield mate Steve Slaton for a 50-yard touchdown, giving West Virginia a 14-6 lead with 2:38 remaining in the first quarter. Slaton had managed just eight yards on four carries up to that point as Western Michigan sold out trying to shut down the Levittown, Pa. native. After catching a swing pass, Slaton made a cut to the middle of the field and outran a host of Bronco defenders for the score.
West Virginia led 28-14 at half with most of the offensive production coming through the air. The Mountaineers had just 87 yards rushing on 18 carries but White took full advantage, completing 6-8 passes for 163 yards and two scores. If not for two drops, White would have had a flawless half through the air. The junior signal caller also added a 38-yard touchdown run to his first half efforts.
In the second half Western Michigan realized it had to respect the Mountaineer passing attack, which in turn opened up running lanes for West Virginia’s many offensive weapons.
On the Mountaineers’ second possession of the second half, Slaton finally found some daylight on the ground, taking an inside handoff and racing 58 yards to give West Virginia a 35-14 advantage with 9:54 left in the third quarter. Following a Reed Williiams interception of a Tim Hiller pass, White added a second scoring run, racing 22 yard for a score to give the Mountaineers a 42-14 lead with 8:39 to go in the third quarter.
West Virginia finished the game with 316 rushing yards on 45 carries to go along with 226 passing yards. White completed 10 of 18 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns while rushing nine times for 98 yards and two more scores.
Slaton crossed the 100-yard plateau, carrying 16 times for 109 yards and three touchdowns. The Heisman candidate had a pair of one-yard scoring bursts to go along with his 58-yard jaunt. He accounted for 170 all-purpose yards on the day.
The starters gave way to talented backup quarterback Jarrett Brown and a host of promising freshmen in the fourth quarter. Noel Devine jogged on to the field to a rousing ovation from the Mountaineer faithful. Devine and Jock Sanders got their first carries in a gold and blue uniform with Devine scoring his first career touchdown on a eight-yard scamper with 1:24 to go in the game.
“It was nice to get those guys their first taste of college football,” Rodriguez said. “They were wide-eyed but they were really excited and I think it really meant a lot to them that most of the crowd stayed until the end.”
West Virginia finished the game with 542 yards of total offense. The Mountaineer defense forced three Western Michigan turnovers while holding the Broncos to just 32 rushing yards on 32 carries.
West Virginia returns to action next Saturday, Sept. 8 when its travels to Marshall (0-1) for the Friends of Coal Bowl. Kick-off from Joan C. Edwards Stadium is set for 11:10 a.m.
WV - Jalloh 19 pass from White (McAfee kick)
WMU - Simmons 14 pass fromMartin (Kick failed)
WV - Slaton 50 pass from White (McAfee kick)
WV - White 38 run (McAfee kick)
WV - Slaton 1 run (McAfee kick)
WMU - Hiller 2 run (Ledbetter pass from Hiller)
WV - Slaton 58 run (McAfee kick)
WV - White 22 run (McAfee kick)
WMU - Simmons 6 pass from Peregrin (Jones kick)
WV - Brown 20 run (McAfee kick)
WMU - Jones 34 FG
WV - Devine 8 run (Kick failed)
RUSHING: WMU - Thompson 8-23, West 12-14, Bonds 2-9, Hiller 4-3, Julien 1-minus 3, Simmons 1-minus 3, Peregrin 3-minus 4, Team 1-minus 7, Total 32-32; WVU - Slaton 16-109, White 9-97, Devine 7-44, Brown 5-41, Sanders 3-13, Schmitt 3-10, Reynaud 1-2, Team 1-0, Total 45-316.
PASSING: WMU - Hiller 16-25-2-160-0, Peregrin 9-17-0-71-1, Martin 1-1-0-14-1, Total 26-43-2-245-2; WVU - White 10-18-0-192-2, Brown 3-4-0-34-0, Total 13-22-0-226-2.
RECEIVING: WMU - Simmons 14-144, West 4-2, Ledbetter 3-58, Martin 3-22, Middleton 1-12, White 1-7, Total 26-245; WVU - Reynaud 5-92, Jalloh 3-39, Slaton 2-61, devine 1-19, Sanders 1-13, Davis 1-2, Total 13-226.