Bulls Outlast WVU
By Christopher Marshall for MSNsportsNET.com
November 25, 2006
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Cornerback Trae Williams intercepted a Patrick White pass with less than two minutes left in the game to preserve South Florida’s 24-19 victory over No. 7 West Virginia Saturday afternoon at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown.
All season long many experts wondered whether anybody could stop WVU’s terrific one-two punch of quarterback Patrick White and Steve Slaton. On Saturday, the South Florida defense came up with the right recipe, holding Slaton to just 43 yards on 18 attempts and White to 17 yards on 15 carries. Both came into the game having rushed for more than 1,000 yards each and averaging well over seven yards per rush.
“I’m disappointed in the execution,” said West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez. “Everything starts with me as a head coach. We just messed around in this game. I said all year we aren’t good enough to win a game if we mess around.
“No question this was the worst our offense has played all year.”
The Bulls used the speed of their front seven as well as a combination of blitzes and stunts to hold West Virginia’s No. 2-rated rushing offense to 132 yards on 37 carries, well below its season average of 330 yards per game. Remove two reverses by wide receiver Darius Reynaud for 67 yards and West Virginia had only 65 yards on 35 attempts.
For a team that averages 16.6 pass attempts per game, that’s not a good formula for success.
The game started well enough for the Mountaineers when Eric Wicks intercepted a Matt Grothe pass on the Bulls first possession and returned it to the USF 11 yard line. The Mountaineers got six yards on three plays to the USF five and facing a fourth and four, WVU tried a fake field goal and holder Travis McClintic was stopped short of the first down marker.
The missed opportunity was a sign of what the afternoon was going to be like for the Gold and Blue.
Two Patrick McAfee field goals gave the Mountaineers a 6-0 lead. The first one was the result of a 69-yard 11-play drive. On third and 15 at the USF 22, White hit Dorrell Jalloh coming across the middle for 14 yards to the Bulls eight.
Rodriguez intended to go for it on fourth down but an illegal procedure penalty called on center Dan Mozes forced Rodriguez to have McAfee kick a 30-yard field goal.
McAfee’s second field goal was set up by Reynaud’s 57-yard reverse to the USF 11. Slaton was thrown for a six yard loss on first down, a White pass to Reynaud netted only two yards, and a third-down pass to Slaton was incomplete. Once again, West Virginia had to settle for a 32-yard McAfee field goal instead of scoring six.
Following a Quinton Andrews interception at the South Florida eight, the momentum turned in USF’s favor two plays later on second and three at the 15. White dropped back to pass and as he was maneuvering around a defender, the ball was knocked out of his hand. South Florida defensive end George Selvie alertly scooped up the ball and ran it into the end zone for a touchdown to give the Bulls a 7-6 lead with 7:20 left in the second quarter.
USF added an important second touchdown right before the end of the half. Starting at their own 34, USF moved the ball 66 yards on 10 plays capped by a 10-yard Grothe touchdown run to give the Bulls a 14-6 halftime advantage.
The Mountaineer miscues continued in the second half. On third and five at the South Florida 31, White found Myles open on a post for 29 yards to the Bulls two. On the next play, Slaton fumbled trying to extend his arms over the goal line and the ball was recovered by South Florida linebacker Ben Moffit at the one.
“We didn’t capitalize on our opportunities today,” said White. “We had some costly turnovers that led to points for them.”
West Virginia’s defense forced a South Florida punt that Antonio Lewis returned 12 yards to the Bulls 28. Three plays later White hooked up with Myles for a pretty 15-yard pass in the corner of the end zone. The two-point conversion to tie the game was unsuccessful, making it 14-12, South Florida.
It appeared that the Mountaineers would use that momentum to finally take control of the game, but the Bulls had other ideas. Starting at their own 30, South Florida used nine plays to cover 70 yards. The big play was a bubble screen to Ean Randolph that he took up the near sideline for a 21 yard touchdown to give USF a 21-12 lead with 3:03 remaining in the third quarter.
After forcing West Virginia to punt, the Bulls expanded their lead to 24-12 on an 18-yard Delbert Alvarado field goal with just 6:38 left in the game. South Florida ate up 6:47 off the clock while covering 77 yards in 14 plays.
West Virginia (9-2, 4-2) responded with its best offensive drive of the day. White, hobbled in the last series with an injured ankle, ran for six yards on fourth and one to move the ball to the USF 44. On the next play, he eluded a fierce rush to fire a perfect strike to Brandon Myles down the near sideline for a 44-yard touchdown. The extra point pulled the Mountaineers to within five, 24-19, with 5:16 left.
The defense gave West Virginia a chance to win, forcing USF to punt from its own 24. Justin Teachey’s punt could have been fielded by Antonio Lewis at the 35 but he let the ball roll to the WVU 15 for 61 yards.
White completed a second-and-nine pass to Rayshawn Bolden for 19 yards that was upheld under review to give WVU a first down at the 34 yard line with 2:13 left. After a pair of incomplete passes, White’s pass attempt to Myles was high and it was intercepted by Williams to end the rally.
South Florida (8-4, 4-3) was held to just 84 yards on the ground but Grothe completed 22 of 30 passes for 279 yards and a touchdown.
The win marked the highest ranked opponent South Florida has ever beaten. White was 14 of 22 for 178 yards and two touchdowns. Myles caught six passes for 95 yards and a pair of scores.
“We need to refocus,” Rodriguez said. “We’ll find out a lot about our team this week.”
The Mountaineers now have a week to recover before hosting 10-1 Rutgers on Dec. 2, at Milan Puskar Stadium. The game time has been announced as a 7:45 pm start. Rutgers knocked off Syracuse earlier today.
WV – McAfee 30 FG
Rushing: USF - Grothe 23-47, Ponton 7-24, Williams 7-20, Team 2-minus 7, Total 39-84; WV - Reynaud 2-67, Slaton 18-43, White 15-17, Schmitt 1-3, McClintic 1-2, Total 37-132.
Passing: USF - Grothe 22-30-2-279-1; WV - White 14-22-2-178-2.
Receiving: USF - Randolph 7-65, Edwards 5-57, Johnson 3-40, Gordon 2-24, Jackson 1-39, Ponton 1-16, Hill 1-15, Busbee 1-14, Bleakley 1-9, Total 22-279; WV - Myles 6-95, Reynaud 3-34, Jalloh 2-22, Slaton 2-8, Bolden 1-19, Total 14-178.
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