WVU Escapes Greenville
By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
September 23, 2006
Quarterback Patrick White showed he can beat teams with his arm, too. The sophomore completed 17 of 24 passes for a career-high 216 yards with two touchdowns to lead No. 4-ranked West Virginia to a 27-10 win at East Carolina Saturday evening at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
White also ran for 39 yards and a touchdown to account for three scores and 245 yards of total offense.
"In Division I-A going against a team with quality athletes and a good coaching staff you're going to have a battle and we got tested well today," said West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez. "We're happy to get the win."
West Virginia (4-0) came into the game leading the country in rushing offense averaging 348.7 yards per game, but managed just 153 yards on the ground snapping its six-game streak of running for more than 300 yards. Last year, East Carolina held West Virginia to just 127 yards rushing in a 20-15 loss to the Mountaineers in Morgantown.
Today, the ECU defense keyed on Steve Slaton, holding West Virginia’s star runner to just 80 yards on 24 carries, but that opened up the field for White and emerging junior wide receiver Darius Reynaud, who caught a career-high five passes for 110 yards including a 60-yard touchdown.
Reynaud's manufactured fourth-quarter TD was the longest offensive scoring play for West Virginia this year and his 100 yards receiving were a first by a WVU pass catcher since Chris Henry had 118 yards against Boston College in 2004.
It was Reynaud’s fourth-quarter score on a swing pass in the flat that opened up a tight game that was swinging in favor of the home-standing Pirates.
"That was the biggest play," Rodriguez said. "We had some good blocking out there and he did the rest of it. He is one of our best playmakers and he's made a big play for us in every game."
Before Reynaud's catch, ECU made it 17-10 when Robert Lee finished off a 14-play, 58-yard drive with a 27-yard field goal.
West Virginia got on the board first after East Carolina was flagged for a penalty by not permitting Antonio Lewis enough room to catch a punt he fumbled and ECU recovered. The flag gave the Mountaineers the football at the Pirate 37.
WVU covered nearly all of the 37 yards on the ground, needing a five-yard carry on fourth and one by fullback Owen Schmitt to move the ball to the ECU 23. Four plays later, White slipped off right guard into the end zone for a five-yard TD – West Virginia’s sixth straight game-opening touchdown dating back to last year.
East Carolina (1-3), going no-huddle and using an empty backfield, was able to find openings in West Virginia’s young secondary on its second possession. Pinkney was four for four on the drive for 68 yards, including a 47-yard hookup to Aundre Allison, who weaved his way to the end zone before taunting a pair of WVU defenders as he hopped across the goal line.
Safety Eric Wicks gave West Virginia good field position at midfield when he picked off a tipped Pinkney pass intended for Allison and Wicks returned it to the ECU 49. Wicks' INT was one of three turnovers the WVU defense came up with Saturday – Antonio Lewis picked off a pass at the end of the game and Charles Pugh scooped up a James Pinkney fumble when the Pirates were driving in the third quarter.
With the Pirates moving its safeties up close to the line of scrimmage, White went to the air on WVU's second scoring drive, throwing for 18 yards to Brandon Myles and 17 yards to Slaton to get the ball to the East Carolina 10. On third and goal at the three, White faked out the entire East Carolina defense on a naked bootleg and flipped the ball to a wide open Owen Schmitt in the corner of the end zone.
West Virginia found more room in the Pirate secondary again on its next possession to move the football all the way to the ECU five, but on third and two, White’s pass intended for tight end Mike Villagrana in the back of the end zone was picked off by Jamar Flournoy to stop an 88-yard Mountaineer drive.
Leading 14-7 at halftime, West Virginia opened up the third quarter by driving 71 yards in 10 plays to the Pirate nine. The Mountaineers came up a yard short on third and seven when Rayshawn Bolden couldn’t move the chains, getting six yards on a swing pass. That led to a Pat McAfee 26-yard field goal to boost WVU's lead to 10.
West Virginia’s improving defense totally shut down East Carolina’s rushing game, holding the Pirates to just 41 yards on 24 carries. Top Pirate rusher Chris Johnson finished the game with five yards on five carries.
James Pinkney completed 20 of 40 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game late. Allison finished with four catches for 54 yards and a touchdown.
Both Slaton and Reynaud sat out a portion of the second half with cramps in the 90 degree heat.
"Our trainers did a great job getting those guys back on the field," Rodriguez said.
WVU has now won 29 of its last 33 regular season games, 12 straight in September, and seven in a row on the road under Rodriguez. The Mountaineers are 16-2 against East Carolina.
West Virginia has a week off before traveling to SEC country to play at Mississippi State on Saturday, Oct. 7. The Bulldogs, now 1-3 after an overtime win over UAB, faces LSU next weekend before playing West Virginia.
"We're going to get tested again in two weeks down at Mississippi State and it probably willbe even more of a test," Rodriguez said. "We've got a couple of weeks to get things cleared up adn we'll go back to work."
WV – White 5 run (McAfee kick)
RUSHING: WV -- Slaton 24-80, White 11-39, Reynaud 2-23, Schmitt 4-15, Colson 1-minus 4, Total 42-153; ECU -- Fractious 6-13, Pinkney 9-11, Kass 2-10, Johnson 5-5, Simmons 2-3, Henry 1-minus 1, Total 24-41.
PASSING: WV -- White 17-24-3-216-2; ECU - Pinkney 20-40-1-247-1, Kass 2-7-1-29-0, Total 22-47-2-276-1.
RECEIVING: WV -- Reynaud 5-110, Schmitt 4-14, Slaton 3-35, Myles 2-29, Bruce 1-12, Lyons 1-11, Bolden 1-6, Total 17-216; ECU -- Henry 6-54, Allison 4-54, Good 4-35, Bryant 3-46, Roach 2-40, Drew 1-21, Fractious 1-16, Rogers 1-10, Total 22-276.
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