October 4, 2008
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University Mountaineers held on to defeat BIG EAST foe Rutgers, 24-17, on Saturday afternoon at Mountaineer Field in Milan Puskar Stadium.
WVU grabbed its conference opener by utilizing an effective two-quarterback system with Pat White and Jarrett Brown. White threw for 137 yards and two touchdowns, while Brown tallied 44 yards on 14 carries and an insurance touchdown in the third quarter.
“It was a heck of a football game,” WVU Head Coach Bill Stewart said. “We were eight of 16 on third downs and they (Rutgers) were five of 15. Jarrett Brown did a tremendous job there.”
The Mountaineers (3-2, 1-0) notched 333 yards of total offense, showing their ability to balance their passing game with the run. They held Rutgers (1-4, 0-1) to 270 yards, as the defense stymied the Scarlet Knights in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.
“We were in the red zone three times and we scored three times,” Stewart added. “I thought the punting game was very good. Pat McAfee is a real team guy when it comes to punting the ball.”
The defense, led by defensive end Scooter Berry, only gave up 14 first downs to the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers was held to converting just five of 15 third down attempts as well, looking several times for plays downfield but unable to come through.
Berry’s pass break-up with just over a minute left sealed the game for WVU. Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel’s attempt to deliver a throw over the middle on fourth-and-five was nearly intercepted by Berry, who played solid coverage.
Anthony Leonard was WVU’s leading tackler with nine wrap-ups. Mortty Ivy was also active throughout the game, totaling eight tackles. Sidney Glover finished with eight as well.
“I thought the defense played very well,” Stewart said. “We were not jamming routes, and we weren’t getting enough underneath coverage to jam them. But we got it together, and our corners are getting better and better.”
Jock Sanders led the WVU wideouts with 47 yards on four receptions, including a 14-yard score. Wes Lyons added 44 yards on four catches.
A 34-yard punt return by Ellis Lankster led to a quick scoring drive on WVU’s third possession. Starting on Rutgers’ 33 yard-line, White found tight end Tyler Urban two plays later on a roll-out pass to the left side for a 25-yard score, putting WVU ahead 7-0.
With 9:06 left before the half, McAfee nailed a 40-yard field goal to extend the Mountaineer advantage to 10-0. WVU put forth an effective nine-play, 36-yard drive, but was negated by a 15-yard personal foul to prevent another touchdown-scoring possession.
The Scarlet Knights responded with a 23-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 10-3. The drive was highlighted by a 28-yard wide receiver pass play from Britt across the field to tailback Mason Robinson. With first-and-goal on WVU’s 10-yard line, the Mountaineers were able to stuff the run and force a third-down incompletion by Teel to force the field goal.
WVU came back with an effective scoring drive when Sanders scampered into the end zone on a 14-yard wide receiver screen, giving WVU a 17-3 lead. White’s second touchdown pass of the day puts him in third place alone on WVU’s career touchdown pass list with 44, passing former quarterbacks Oliver Luck (1978-81) and Chad Johnston (1993-96).
White also made history by passing former Indiana standout Antwaan Randle El for second place on the NCAA career quarterback rushing list. White trails only former Missouri quarterback Brad Smith.
Teel and the Rutgers’ offense marched downfield right before halftime, scoring on a drive that lasted only 31 seconds. Teel reached the end zone on a five-yard keeper up the middle to trim WVU’s lead to 17-10.
Brown extended WVU’s lead to 24-10 after rushing for a one-yard touchdown in the third quarter. The drive was sparked by a fake-punt snap on fourth down to Zac Cooper, who ran for 18 yards to keep WVU’s possession alive.
With 6:23 remaining, Rutgers inched closer when Teel completed a 14-yard touchdown reception to Tim Brown, making it 24-17.
The Mountaineers were stopped on a critical fourth-and-inches with two minutes left. Brown made an attempt to creep through the left side but was stuffed for a nine-yard loss, giving Rutgers one final possession with good field position.
“We’re trying to get better each week and trying to find a way to win the ballgame,” Stewart added. “I will never not play to lose. That’s why I went for it on fourth down, I didn’t play to lose.”
But the Scarlet Knights were only able to gain five yards on their final possession, as Berry broke up a pass over the middle on fourth down to lift the Mountaineers.
WVU has now won their past 14 games against Rutgers, dating back to 1994.
The Mountaineers return to action with a home game against Syracuse on Saturday, Oct. 11. Kickoff is at noon.
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