By Christopher Marshall for MSNsportsNET.com
November 11, 2006
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - No. 10 West Virginia bounced back from their first loss of the season at Louisville to defeat the Cincinnati Bearcats, 42-24 Saturday afternoon at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va.
After a slow start, it was business as usual for the Mountaineer offense. Patrick White led the West Virginia attack with 93 yards rushing and two touchdowns to go with 98 yards passing and another score. Steve Slaton had another strong performance rushing for 148 yards and two touchdowns on only 12 carries for an impressive 12.3 yards-per-carry average.
After a missed Pat McAfee field goal at 7:55 of the first quarter, the Bearcats drove 50 yards in 13 plays, culminating in Kevin Lovell’s 40-yard field goal to take an early 3-0 lead.
On their ensuing possession the Mountaineers faced a critical third and 19 play from their own 40 yard line. The Cincinnati defense was threatening to hold the Mountaineers scoreless for a third consecutive possession before White calmly eluded a blitz and found Brandon Myles open down the sideline for a 30-yard gain. From there the Mountaineers needed only five plays to score. White took the ball in from three yards out to give West Virginia a 7-3 lead with 13:41 left in the second quarter.
After WVU held the Bearcats to three and out, White went back to work once again finding Myles for a 34-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone. Myles managed to get a foot down and despite an official’s review the play was upheld.
Slaton got on track on West Virginia’s next possession, racing 65 yards past the Cincinnati secondary to make the margin 21-3 at halftime in favor of the Gold and Blue.
The Mountaineer defense held the Bearcats to just 95 yards of total offense in the first half.
The second half was more of the same as the Mountaineer offense exploded for 21 third-quarter points to put the game out of reach.
“We came in wanting to run on them, limit the explosive plays and limit the turnovers. We didn’t do any of that. I don’t want to say this but we got handled in this game,” said Cincinnati coach Mark Dantonio.
The Mountaineers continue to move the ball at will on the ground. West Virginia rushed for 313 yards on 38 carries against a Cincinnati defense that had only given up an average of 87.7 yards rushing this season.
“We know we need to keep the score close and limit the explosive plays if we are to win the games. WVU kept us out of rhythm today,” Dantonio said.
The West Virginia defense was once again stingy against the run, allowing only 57 yards on 31 Bearcat attempts. The Mountaineers consistently harassed Cincinnati quarterback Dustin Grutza, recording four sacks and numerous quarterback knockdowns.
Dantonio praised the Mountaineer play calling.
“Coach (Rich) Rodriguez did a good job showing us things we hadn’t seen on video,” Dantonio said.
Kevin McLee led the Mountaineer defense with five solo tackles including two sacks. The Mountaineers intercepted three Bearcat passes.
West Virginia improves to 8-1 on the season and 3-1 in the Big East while Cincinnati falls to 5-5 and 2-3 in the conference.
Rodriguez reemphasized the importance of each conference game afterward.
“Our goal after we lost to Louisville was to get back into the Big East race. That’s our focus right now as we go forward,” Rodriguez said.
WVU now faces a short week as they prepare to travel to Pitt on Thursday night. Kick-off from Heinz Field is set for 7:30 p.m.
UC – Lovell 40 FG
RUSHING: UC – Benton 9-18, Grutza 7-(-5), Moore 10-34, Glatthaar 4-6, Davila 1-4 Total 31-57 ; WV – Slaton 12-148, White 10-93, Schmitt 3-18, Reynaud 1-15, Brown 7-19 Total 38-313
PASSING: UC – Grutza 13-24-2-143-1, Davila 10-17-1-167-2; WV – White 7-13-0-98-1, Brown 1-1-0-0-0.
RECEIVING: UC – Martin 2-19, Goodman 4-54, Poland 2-21, Stewart 1-6, Celek 1-5, Jones 1-3, Barwin 5-68, 23-310; WV – Myles 2-64, Reynaud 2-21, Schmitt 1-9, Slaton 2-4, Total 7-98.
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