7:30 PM ET, October 13, 2004
MEMORIAL STADIUM (CT), STORRS, CT
EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez was more concerned about the 89 yards in penalties than the 300-plus yards of rushing offense piled up by his Mountaineers (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today, No. 17 AP).
"That's the first thing I told the team after the game," Rodriguez said. "We preached it and some of them just killed offensive drives. One took away a touchdown."
But Rasheed Marshall made up for most of the mistakes Wednesday night as 17th-ranked West Virginia racked up racked up 309 yards of rushing offense in a 31-19 win over Connecticut.
A first-half penalty nullified a 51-yard TD run by Adam Jones on a reverse and the Mountaineers had to settle for a 10-6 lead at the half.
But Marshall, a senior quarterback, helped West Virginia overcome its mistakes, rushing for 110 yards, throwing for a touchdown and even punting a quick kick.
He sensed he could have a big night on the ground against the Huskies.
"I thought I would have a chance, especially how tight their linebackers play to the line of scrimmage," Marshall said. "I thought if I could get outside a lot on them I could put them in for a long day."
One more day like that and Marshall will rewrite the Big East record book. His 1,518 yards rushing is 44 yards shy of the career quarterback mark held by Syracuse's Donovan McNabb.
"He was very sharp today mentally," said Rich Rodriguez, who thought his quarterback could have racked up even more yards if he stayed inbounds more.
"I had to remind him three times during the game. I said, 'Make them catch you."'
His 34-yard quick-kick punt proved to be a big one. West Virginia held a 10-6 lead late in the third quarter when Marshall's punt pinned UConn down on its own 2-yard line.
Two plays later West Virginia safety Mike Lorello intercepted a pass that bounced off the foot of UConn receiver Keron Henry and ran it in 21 yards for 17-6 lead and the Mountaineers (5-1, 1-0) had control the rest of the way.
"We got a lucky break there," Rodriguez said. "We were kind of in a rut and that sparked us a little bit."
On the next possession, Marshall hit Chris Henry for a 49-yard TD pass to extend the lead to 18 and send most of the 40,000 fans streaming for the exits.
Marshall repeatedly rescued an offense that sputtered for almost three quarters. With leading rusher Kay-Jay Harris sidelined with injuries, Marshall and Jayson Colson kept the Mountaineers' ground game going, racking up 309 yards. Colson finished with 111 yards and one TD.
Lorello intercepted UConn quarterback Dan Orlovsky again midway through the fourth quarter, killing another drive.
"It wasn't like their defense confused us that much," Orlovsky said. "I missed some reads, we had some big drops tonight and that hurt us as far as momentum."
The Huskies (4-2, 1-2), who were second in the league in scoring (30.6) behind West Virginia (35.6), were held without a touchdown until the fourth quarter, but made it interesting in the closing minutes. Orlovsky hit Henry for a 17-yard score with under seven minutes remaining. After Mountaineers running back Pernell Williams tacked on a 13-yard TD run, Orlovsky found Matt Cutaia for a 2-yard strike with 2:18 left in the game.
They were the few bright spots for UConn, which joined the Big East this season, three years after becoming a Division I-A program.
"When you play in these situations you hope that you play your best game then because then you see exactly were you stand," UConn coach Randy Edsall said. "But I think I know where we stand. Their speed and athleticism did some things where we weren't able to make some plays."
Marshall was 12-of-21 for 138 yards and was picked off once. He became the first West Virginia quarterback to both rush and throw for more than 100 yards since Major Harris in 1987.
Orlovsky was 24-of-47 for 268 yards and threw for two scores but was intercepted three times.
UConn has not beaten a ranked team in four tries.
"I know it's part of the learning process but there's a time when it's got to come eventually and we've got the team to do it," said UConn linebacker Alfred Fincher, who led the team with 21 tackles. "So we just need to do it. All of us."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||5-12||6-20|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||1-3|
|TD||5:50||JASON COLSON 1 YD RUN (BRAD COOPER KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 62 yards.
|FG||1:58||MATT NUZIE 21 YD FG|
Drive info: 9 plays, 74 yards.
|FG||13:09||MATT NUZIE 35 YD FG|
Drive info: 5 plays, 10 yards.
|FG||3:40||BRAD COOPER 39 YD FG|
Drive info: 6 plays, 44 yards.
|TD||3:53||MIKE LORELLO 21 YD INTERCEPTION RETURN (BRAD COOPER KICK)||17||6|
|TD||2:03||CHRIS HENRY 49 YD PASS FROM RASHEED MARSHALL (BRAD COOPER KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 56 yards.
|TD||6:38||KERON HENRY 17 YD PASS FROM DAN ORLOVSKY (MATT NUZIE KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 51 yards.
|TD||4:42||PERNELL WILLIAMS 13 YD RUN (BRAD COOPER KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 41 yards.
|TD||2:18||MATT CUTAIA 2 YD PASS FROM DAN ORLOVSKY (FAILED 2PT PASS)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 73 yards.