By Christopher Marshall for MSNsportsNET.com
September 9, 2006
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Steve Slaton ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns on and efficient eight carries in the first half to lead No. 5 West Virginia to a routine 52-3 victory over the Eastern Washington Eagles Saturday afternoon at Milan Puskar Stadium.
The Mountaineers got a lot of young players valuable game experience on both sides of the ball.
“It seems like we played everybody that has ever suited up in a Mountaineer uniform,” Rodriguez joked. “We played probably 80 guys. We wanted to reward guys like Markell Harrison who’ve been in the program for a while. We wanted to get the guys in at the end. I’m proud of our young guys, the backups. They played very hard and physical.”
After holding the Eagles on three plays to begin the game, the Mountaineer offense wasted no time getting on the board. On West Virginia’s second play from scrimmage, Slaton carried the ball off the right side and scampered 49 yards up the sideline for the game’s opening score.
On the Mountaineer’s second possession, Slaton found the end zone for the second time, carrying it in from 17 yards out to give the Mountaineers a 14-0 lead with 6:35 left in the first quarter.
Slaton then headed off to the showers early leaving the dominant Mountaineer ground attack in the hands of Owen Schmitt, Jason Colson and true freshman Eddie Davis. West Virginia churned out 394 rushing yards on 53 carries. Davis complimented Slaton’s brief performance, carrying 15 times for 65 yards. Colson added 27 yards on seven carries, while Schmitt had a seven-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Pat White was once again sharp, completing all four of his aerial attempts before giving way to a very capable Jarrett Brown in the second quarter.
Brown moved the West Virginia offense with the poise of a veteran. He connected with Brandon Myles for a five-yard scoring strike to give the Mountaineers a 28-3 lead just before halftime. After intermission, Brown wasted no time getting back to work. He led WVU on a seven-play, 81-yard drive which culminated in Brown running in off the right side on a quarterback keep to give the Mountaineers a 35-3 lead with 12:10 left in the third quarter.
For the game, Brown connected on 11 of 15 for 129 yards and one touchdown. He also used his quick feet to carry the ball six times for 70 yards and another score. Rodriguez was very impressed with Brown’s performance.
“He overcame his mistakes with his athleticism. He doesn’t panic,” Rodriguez said. “I’m really pleased with him and we’ve got to get another guy ready. As much as we like Pat, I was really pleased with how Jarrett played.”
Four Mountaineer quarterbacks combined to connect on 18 of 23 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown. True freshman receiver Wes Lyons got his hands on the ball for the first time, catching three passes for 28 yards.
“Wes did a good did a good job for us. He made a few catches but he is still learning and he will definitely be a guy that can help us as the year goes on,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said that he enjoyed the opportunity of getting some scout team and role players into the game.
“Not everybody can be a Pat White or a Steve Slaton. The key to our success is everybody accepting their role and doing their role as hard as they can. Markell is one of those guys and it was great to get him a score. We’ve had a lot of guys in my first five years here that have done a great job accepting their roles,” Rodriguez said.
Eastern Washington head coach Paul Wulff heaped high praise on the Mountaineers.
“WVU has a really good football team. They have two kids at quarterback and running back who are really special. They have great kids, not just as players, but as men. I would be proud of these players if I was a WVU fan,” Wulff said.
Wulff believes that the 2,300-mile, cross country trip was beneficial for his program.
“The trip was worth it because of the big picture, the kids got good experience. This was a payday for the program. The money helps with renovations in our locker room, videos and equipment. This game will make a big difference and help us with recruiting,” Wulff said.
The Mountaineers (2-0) now face a quick turnaround as they prepare to host the Maryland Terrapins on Thursday night.
“It’s Saturday for all of you but for us it’s Monday,” Rodriguez said. “We won’t be physical in practice this week because we’ve got to be ready to roll. Guy’s who have been in the program know what the Maryland game means. If you can’t get up for this one you should check your pulse.”
Kickoff at Milan Puskar Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m. and the game will be televised nationally by ESPN.
WV -- Slaton 49 run (McAfee kick)
RUSHING: EW -- Cole 17-60, Hoffman 4-16, Total 21-76; WV -- Slaton 8-105, Brown 6-70, Davis 15-65, Harrison 5-33, Colson 7-26, White 2-22, Reynaud 1-20, Schmitt 8-17, Sowers 2-15, Morrone 2-12, Anderson 2-9, Total 58-394.
PASSING: EW -- Nichols 13-25-1-90-0, Smart 2-6-0-19-0, Total 15-31-1-109-0; WV -- Brown 11-15-0-129-1, White 4-4-0-48-0, Harrison 3-3-0-20-0, Sowers 0-1-0-0-0, Total 18-23-0-197-1.
RECEIVING: EW -- Calhoun 3-27, Davis 3-5, Brown 2-18, Ramos 1-16, Searcy 1-16, Coleman 1-9, Cole 1-5, Solomon 1-3, Total 15-109; WV -- Myles 4-40, Reynaud 3-30, Lyons 3-28, Schmitt 2-36, Brtownlee 2-14, Bruce 1-31, Jalloh 1-10, Bolden 1-5, Connolly 1-3, Total 18-197.
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