WVU Erases UConn
By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
November 2, 2005
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Pat White made his first college start a memorable one by running for two touchdowns and throwing another to lead No. 18-ranked West Virginia to a 45-13 victory over Connecticut Wednesday night at Milan Puskar Stadium.
White used his feet more so than his arm to move West Virginia’s offense, carrying 12 times for 62 yards including a pair of 14-yard scrambles for touchdowns.
“He made some nice runs today and the one in particular was a screen play and he had no choice,” said West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez. “It was a double screen and both receivers were covered and that is usually a dead play and he turned it into a touchdown.”
West Virginia’s first-team defense completely bottled up Connecticut’s offense, holding the Huskies to 90 total yards and minus four rushing yards through three quarters. The Mountaineers sacked Connecticut quarterback Dennis Brown seven times and produced 19 negative yardage plays before giving way to the reserves in the fourth quarter.
“Our defensive coaches felt pretty good that we could get some pressure on them; we knew they had a freshman quarterback and some young guys up front,” Rodriguez said. “The biggest key defensively was that they weren’t able to run it and if you make someone one dimensional your chances of winning the game are pretty good.”
There were plenty of signs heading into the game that pointed to a West Virginia rout. Connecticut (4-4, 1-3) came to Morgantown with a lengthy list of injured players that forced Coach Randy Edsall to modify his lineup, including starting true freshman Brown at quarterback. The Mountaineers were well rested having 18 days between games and were playing in a supercharged environment at night on national television; Rodriguez is now 7-0 in night games at home.
Connecticut fans, perhaps sensing this, decided to sit this one out leaving the entire right side of the south bowl empty.
“We had a tough time blocking, tackling and didn’t do a good job as coaches and players,” said Edsall. “We didn’t open up enough holes and sustain enough blocks on offense. It’s always a combination of things and we just need to keep working and get better.”
After the two teams exchanged punts, West Virginia got on the scoreboard on its second possession of the game after Vaughn Rivers set the Mountaineers up by returning Chris Pavasaris’ punt 18 yards to the Connecticut 39.
After a short White to Reynaud pass netted six yards, Steve Slaton took a handoff on a sweep and turned on the jets down the far sideline for a 32-yard run to the Husky one. It took Slaton two tries to get the ball into the end zone for his team-leading eighth touchdown of the year.
Leading 7-3 after a short punt led to a Matt Nuzie 41-yard field goal, the Mountaineers added six more with 1:28 left in the first quarter when fullback Owen Schmitt snuck through the line and ran 15 yards for his second rushing TD of the season. West Virginia increased its lead with 12:07 left in the second quarter when White flipped a screen to Brandon Myles and he took it 20 yards for his third score of the season.
At this point the roof caved in on Connecticut with West Virginia adding 14 more points in a span of two minutes on a pair of White 14-yard runs. A Cornell Brockington fumble set up the first White TD, and a Dennis Brown pass sailed high of its target and was intercepted by Anthony Mims, who returned the ball 32 yards to the UConn 14.
“On defense they’re extremely fast,” said Edsall.
Dan Nuzie connected on a pair of field goals and Lou Allen added a one-yard TD run for the Huskies.
White completed seven of 16 passes for 106 yards. Slaton ran 17 times for 71 yards and scored a touchdown – all in the first half, and Schmitt tacked 32 yards on just four carries. Myles led West Virginia with three catches for 77 yards.
Third-string quarterback J.R. House completed both of his pass attempts for 38 yards.
Brown finished the night completing 10 of 19 passes for 97 yards UConn’s top two ground gainers Terry Caulley and Cornell Brockington managed just 15 yards on 10 carries.
“I thought Connecticut’s defense played outstanding football and they whipped us at times up front,” Rodriguez said. “We got to watch the film and get that corrected.”
West Virginia (7-1, 4-0) travels to Cincinnati for another midweek game next Wednesday night against the Bearcats on ESPN2.
“This team really believes in each other and what we’re trying to do,” Rodriguez said. “They take a lot of pride with what goes on in our program.
“What we have to do is focus on the next round. We treat it as an 11-round season and our guys understand that and if they don’t I’m going to keep preaching it because it’s true,” Rodriguez said. “The more you win the more that is at stake.”
Briefly: Tonight’s game pitted the Big East Conference’s top two defenses: Connecticut was first in total defense and West Virginia second … the Mountaineers, wearing their new white pants, proved to be the better defensive team tonight holding UConn to just 129 total yards that included 12 yards rushing yards on 38 carries … there was a long list of former WVU players that made press-box visits, including quarterbacks Marc Bulger and Jake Kelchner, offensive linemen Tom Robsock and Tom Hamilton and defensive tackle Mike Fox … there were 11 punts and kicks between the two teams in a first quarter that last nearly an hour … a halftime fireworks display left an eerie haze over the stadium for a good portion of the third quarter … White’s 50-yard bomb to Brandon Myles in the fourth quarter was the longest offensive play from scrimmage for the Mountaineers this season … House entered the game with five minutes remaining to a loud ovation, and completed his first career pass to Jason Colson for a nine-yard gain and a first down; Rodriguez chose to keep out Adam Bednarik, nursing a sprained foot suffered in the Louisville game … former Mountaineer assistant coach Dave McMichael, a long-time member of Don Nehlen’s staff, was on the Connecticut sidelines as the team's tight ends and special team coach … several starters including tailback Steve Slaton (minor hip pointer according to Rodriguez) watched the second half from the sidelines … the Mountaineers have now won 33 straight games when scoring 30 or more points.
WV – Slaton 1 run (McAfee kick)
Rushing: UCONN – Caulley 8-20, Allen 11-17, Hernandez 2-9, Brockington 2-minus 5, Brown 14-minus 28, Total 38-12; WV – Slaton 17-71, White 12-63, Colson 11-38, Schmitt 4-32, Williams 10-14, Total 57-228.
Passing: UCONN – Brown 10-19-1-97-0, Hernandez 1-2-0-20-0, Total 11-21-1-107; WV – White 7-16-1-106-1, House 2-2-0-38-0, Total 9-18-1-144-1.
Receiving: UCONN – Young 3-47, Murray 2-45, Caulley 2-12, Williams 2-9, Allen 1-3, McLean 1-1, Total 11-107; WV – Myles 3-77, Reynaud 2-8, Bolden 1-29, Schmitt 1-11, Jalloh 1-10, Colson 1-9, Total 9-144.
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