Mountaineers Overcome Miscues
By Steve Stone for MSNsportsNET.com
September 12, 2009
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Well, it looks like West Virginia has a passing game. Quarterback Jarrett Brown completed 24-of-31 passes for 334 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Mountaineers to a 35-20 victory over East Carolina on Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown.
“I’m so proud of Jarrett Brown,” said West Virginia coach Bill Stewart. “What he does is he has an awareness of the coverage. When they brought down cover zero and they blitzed us, we had a plan. He knows where to go and where the breakdowns were.”
If not for West Virginia’s charity, the margin today would have been much greater. Seventeen of ECU’s 20 points were the direct result of West Virginia turnovers. And all 20 of ECU’s points came during a six-minute span at the beginning and end of the first half.
“I cannot thank the defensive staff enough for throwing caution to the wind by blitzing them,” said Stewart. “I would have given our guys a standing ovation when they finally caught a punt, too.”
Despite committing four turnovers and 11 penalties for 104 yards, the defense was able to bail out the Mountaineers, holding the Pirates to 237 yards of total offense. The Mountaineers pressured ECU quarterback Patrick Pinkney throughout the afternoon, racking up four sacks, including two by Ovid Goulbourne.
Noel Devine’s four-yard touchdown with 8:18 left in the fourth quarter sealed the Mountaineer victory. After the WVU defense pinned ECU back into its end zone, punt returner Jock Sanders scampered for 35 yards to give the Mountaineers good field position at ECU’s 19-yard line.
After forcing WVU to punt out of its own end zone, the Pirates used a short seven-play, 31-yard drive to go up 3-0 on a 37-yard field goal by Ben Hartman to start the contest.
ECU came back with a run-oriented drive, starting at the WVU 26-yard line after a personal foul by the Mountaineers on a punt return tacked on 15 more yards for the Pirates. Fullback Dominique Lindsay capped ECU’s scoring with a two-yard plunge through the right side to put the Pirates up 10-0.
“Number one, we erased a 10-point deficit,” said Stewart. “Number two, we showed great heart wearing the Old Gold and Blue.”
Brown, forced to elude the pass rush most of the first quarter, found Alric Arnett for a 46-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 10-7. Brown kept the 80-yard drive alive when he scrambled for a nine-yard rush on a third and three at WVU’s 27-yard line.
Hartman botched a 23-yard field goal attempt to keep the score at 10-7. After Pinkney completed a 27-yard pass over the middle to Lindsay, WVU stuffed Jon Williams for no gain on third down at the Mountaineer six-yard line.
A four-yard touchdown reception by Will Johnson put the Mountaineers on top, 14-10. Brown found wide receiver Bradley Starks for a 55-yard reception down the left side, then converted a key third down inside the red zone with a four-yard slant pass to Arnett to set up the TD.
Then West Virginia (2-0) couldn’t get out of its way. Sanders unsuccessfully tried to pick up a bouncing punt after waving his teammates away from the ball. The ball went right through Sanders’ legs, touching his fingers, and the Pirates were set up at the six-yard line. But all ECU could get out of the break was a Hartman 23-yard field goal.
Two minutes later, Brown’s passing got West Virginia back on the scoreboard. With 2:12 left in the half, Arnett tallied his second touchdown of the day on an 11-yard catch. Sanders keyed the drive with a 28-yard reception over the middle.
Then after the defense stopped the Pirates, West Virginia gave the ball right back when Brandon Hogan, replacing Sanders back deep, couldn’t hang on to a punt, giving ECU the ball on WVU’s 18-yard line. This time the Pirates punched the ball into the end zone when Pinkney hit Jamar Bryant on a four-yard reception, cutting the Mountaineer lead to 21-20.
The second half was all West Virginia. In addition to shutting out the Pirates, Brown hit a pretty 58-yard touchdown pass to freshman Tavon Austin between three Pirate defenders. Austin hauled the ball in at the 15 and jogged into the end zone for his first collegiate touchdown.
Sanders caught nine passes for 99 yards, Starks had five receptions for 76 yards and Arnett had 61 yards on three catches.
Devine led all rushers with 80 yards on 19 carries.
West Virginia’s defense was outstanding on third down, holding the Pirates to 6 of 17. WVU also took away the Pirate ground game (27 rushes for 62 yards), forcing Pinkney to go predominantly to the air. The result was a 16-of-39 passing performance for 175 yards and an interception.
West Virginia also cleaned up some of its problems on kickoffs, holding East Carolina to a 21.6-yards-per-return average.
Stewart said linebacker Reed Williams left the game with a foot sprain and Scooter Berry was standing in street clothes in the second half after injuring his shoulder. Stewart said both are day-to-day.
At the beginning of the game, West Virginia decided to switch center Joey Madsen to right guard and right guard Eric Jobe to center.
East Carolina (1-1) remains winless in Morgantown, losing 13 straight dating back to 1971.
“That is the third-oldest team in the NCAA - 17 fifth-year seniors,” said Stewart of ECU. “We have a long way to go. We’re not even close to being a good football team. But I’d rather be standing here 2-0 then where we were last year.”
The Mountaineers hit the road for the first time this year at Auburn next weekend. That game will be televised nationally on ESPN. East Carolina travels to North Carolina.
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