West Virginia Holds On
By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
November 7, 2009
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Touchdowns by Jock Sanders and Tavon Austin, and a 42-yard Tyler Bitancurt field goal were enough to give West Virginia a 17-9 victory over Louisville Saturday afternoon at Milan Puskar Stadium.
"I was really proud of the defense the way it set the tone the entire day," said West Virginia coach Bill Stewart. "That was a great way to bounce back after a sub-par (defensive) showing last weekend."
After Louisville went ahead 3-0 on a Chris Philpott 37-yard field goal, West Virginia came back with its best drive of the first half, covering 72 yards in eight plays.
Jarrett Brown got the drive started with a 22-yard pass to tight end Tyler Urban to the 50. Noel Devine ran 10 yards to the UofL 40, and another Devine run of 20 yards after Brown was sacked for a 9-yard loss gave the Mountaineers a first and 10 at the Louisville 39. Devine rolled his ankle on the run and did not get another carry the rest of the game
"He's been hurt for two weeks," Stewart said. "He got beat up pretty good last week against South Florida. You cannot run a 5-foot-8, 178-pound man 30-35 times a game. I hope the heck we have him for our stretch run."
Following Devine's 20-yard run, Brown found Alric Arnett out in the flat where he shook free of Richard Raglin and took the ball 29 yards to the Louisville 10.
Three plays later on third and goal, a screen pass from Brown to Sanders covered 9 yards for the game’s first touchdown. Urban and offensive guard Josh Jenkins got key blocks on the play.
With only 36 seconds showing on the clock, Louisville was able to take Tyler Bitancurt’s kickoff 33 yards to the 45. Two Will Stein passes to Cameron Graham and Scott Long put the ball at the WVU 31. A Darius Ashley run for 4 yards set up Philpott for his second field goal from 44 yards right before the end of the half.
West Virginia forced a Louisville three-and-out on the Cardinals’ opening possession of the second half, giving the ball back to the Mountaineers at their own 44. Sanders runs of 19 and 6 yards set up Brown’s 24-yard scamper to the Louisville seven. A personal foul penalty was tacked on to the run, moving the ball to the three.
From there West Virginia went in reverse, losing 10 yards on back-to-back false start penalties by Jenkins and Donny Barclay.
Two plays later on third and goal, Austin took a reverse at the 9 and stretched out into the end zone. A review of the play upheld the ruling on the field that the football had crossed the goal line before Austin’s knee touched the ground.
Tyler Bitancurt’s PAT gave the Mountaineers a 17-6 lead.
Then things got interesting. A high snap by center Eric Jobe that Brown couldn’t handle was recovered by L.D. Scott at the WVU 42. That eventually led to Philpott’s third field goal of the game, from 29 yards, to make it a one possession game at 17-9 with 10:22 remaining.
After failing to move the sticks with less than four minutes remaining, Louisville got a 55-yard punt by Cory Goettsche that was fielded by Brandon Hogan at the WVU three and returned 8 yards to the 11.
West Virginia could not get a first down (Jock Sanders’ 9-yard run to the 20 was overturned by replay when it was ruled that his knee touched at the 10) to give Louisville another crack at tying the game with a touchdown and a two-point conversion.
Stein’s 11-yard pass to Cameron Graham and a 9-yard scramble moved the ball to the WVU 42. But Julian Miller shut the door with two straight sacks that sent Louisville back to the 44. Two incomplete Stein passes and a Brown kneel down ended the game.
"It's crunch time and you've got to step up," said Miller. "Coach Stew has been preaching all week, 'Just give a little more.' And that's what I tried to do towards the end."
Louisville won the statistical battle, out-gaining the Mountaineers 301-273.
"We found a way to win," said Stewart. "I'll take a Big East win any day of the week."
Darius Ashley gained a career-high 164 yards on 33 carries to lead a Cardinal running game that finished with 201 yards.
Louisville chose to keep the ball on the ground to protect third-string quarterback Stein, who finished the day 14 of 26 for 100 yards. Stein was sacked five times, including three by Miller, who now shows 8 ½ sacks and 11 ½ tackles for losses for the season.
Sanders led West Virginia with 66 yards rushing on 12 carries; Devine finished with 56 yards to push him past the 1,000-yard mark (1,010) for the second consecutive year.
Brown completed 9 of 17 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown. His one interception by Chaz Thompson came in the end zone.
"The turnover was very frustrating, but the young man bounced back in the second half," Stewart said.
"When we're down they were picking us up on offense," added Brown. "That's just a great defense to play behind."
West Virginia's offense, averaging 465 yards per game after the Colorado win, has struggled to move the ball in subsequent games. The Mountaineers had 313 in a 24-7 win over Marshall, 323 in a loss at USF and 273 yards today.
"The biggest thing was trying to keep them out of rhythm," said Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe. "They are like any offense where you get rhythm and tempo and make plays and they always have that ability."
Several key players, including Devine and nose tackle Chris Neild, were standing on the sidelines watching at the end of the game. Stewart did not have an update on their conditions afterward. On Louisville's final drive, West Virginia was using three defensive ends on the defensive line.
"We just had to play with what we had," said Miller.
West Virginia improves to 7-2, 3-1, with the victory. Louisville is now 3-6, 0-4. The Cardinals drop to 1-10 in Big East games under Kragthorpe, and remain winless on the road in conference play under the third-year coach.
The Mountaineers will have a short week of preparation getting ready for fourth-ranked Cincinnati next Friday at Nippert Stadium.
The Bearcats play Connecticut later tonight.
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