MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – In a season when upsets to Top 10 teams have been the theme, No. 9 West Virginia made sure from the opening kickoff that it would not be the latest victim.
The Mountaineers scored a season-high 28 first quarter points and cruised the rest of the way, beating Mississippi State 38-13 in front of 61,022 fans on Homecoming weekend at Milan Puskar Stadium Saturday afternoon.
"After the first quarter we went flat, the team went flat and the crowd went flat," said West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez. "We talked about finishing the job and we didn't want to give them hope. Certainly when they scored the touchdowns we gave them hope."
Quarterback Patrick White put on a show, especially in the first quarter, rushing for 89 yards on five attempts and completing 8 of 12 passes for 61 yards and two touchdowns in one half of work. The junior quarterback scampered 64 yards on the first play from scrimmage to give WVU the early lead. The Daphne, Ala., native then added a 12-yard scoring strike to Owen Schmitt and a 10-yard touchdown toss to Darius Reynaud. He spent the second half in street clothes standing on the sidelines with an ice bag over his neck.
"Pat got banged up on that freeze play," said Rodriguez. "He could have played in the second half and we didn't want to risk anything."
Steve Slaton became the school’s all-time leader in rushing touchdowns with his 26-yard run late in the first quarter. His 43 career rushing touchdowns breaks the previous record held by Ira Errett Rogers and Avon Cobourne.
"Steve isn't worried about the record book," said Rodriguez. "He wanted to run hard and he did a nice job."
Slaton finished the game running 23 times for 127 yards, cracking the 100-yard barrier for the first time in three games. Slaton also led the Mountaineers in receiving, catching four passes for 36 yards. Reynaud caught three passes, two of which went for touchdowns.
Jarrett Brown tossed a touchdown pass to Reynaud early in the fourth quarter and also carried the ball six times for 38 yards.
"Jarrett has a lot of athletic ability," Rodriguez said. "He has a lot of work on but he is so talented and is such a team guy. We are just going to keep pushing Jarrett because of the way we run our quarterbacks - we need two or three."
The West Virginia offense churned out 342 yards of total offense, 258 came via the ground. The defense once again turned in a stellar performance, limiting the Bulldogs to just 214 total yards, 45 coming on the ground. The defense recorded three sacks of MSU quarterback Wesley Carroll.
"Their defense is faster," said Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom. "Their offense is no different. Their defense is faster and they have more speed. They look like how they looked two years ago."
West Virginia resumes Big East play facing Rutgers Saturday at Noon at Rutgers Stadium in a game that will be televised by ABC.
"We will be playing some of the most talented athletes in the country in Rutgers and it's at their place," said Rodriguez. "I was thinking about the game as I was walking off the field and I hope my players were too."
WV – White 64 run (McAfee kick)
WV – Schmitt 12 pass from White (McAfee kick)
WV – Reynaud 10 pass from White (McAfee kick)
WV – Slaton 26 run (McAfee kick)
WV – McAfee 42 FG
MSU – Dixon 1 run (Carlson kick)
MSU - Ducre 3 run (Pass failed)
WV - Reynaud 13 pass from Brown (McAfee kick)
RUSHING: MSU - Dixon 20-61, Ducre 7-23, Team 1-1, Long 1-minus 12, Carroll 4-minus 28, Total 33-45; WVU - Slaton 23-127, White 5-89, Brown 6-38, Bednarik 1-6, Schmitt 4-3, Reynaud 1-1, Sanders 2-minus 2, Total 42-262.
PASSING: MSU - Carroll 18-35-0-169-0; WVU - White 8-12-1-61-2, Brown 4-8-0-23-1, Total 12-20-1-84-3.
RECEIVING: MSU - Burks 6-41, Husband 3-22, Hoskins 2-15, Stallworth 2-12, Riley 1-30, Smith 1-22, Dixon 1-14, Ducre 1-8, Bell 1-5, Total 18-169; WVU - Slaton 4-36, Reynaud 3-20, Gonzales 2-15, Schmitt 2-13, Johnson 1-0, Total 12-84.