4:30 PM ET, September 23, 2006
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, GREENVILLE, NC
GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) -- Patrick White showed there's more to West Virginia's offense than just handing off to Steve Slaton.
White threw for a personal-best 216 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score, and the No. 4 Mountaineers overcame Slaton's least-productive game of the season and pulled away late in a 27-10 victory over East Carolina on Saturday night.
"I guess we can throw it around a little bit," White said. "They did a good job of defending the run. Their safeties came down, defended the run well."
White was 17-of-24 passing with touchdown passes of 3 yards to Owen Schmitt and 60 yards to Darius Reynaud. The Mountaineers (4-0) shook off some sloppy play -- including White's three interceptions -- to win their 11th straight game.
"I go back to a few years ago, when we were mad at certain wins if we didn't think we won by enough," coach Rich Rodriguez said. "I'm not going to be that way."
The Pirates held Slaton, who entered as the nation's third-leading rusher, to 80 yards -- less than half of his 168-yard average -- and afterward he said he was bothered by cramps blamed on the hot, humid weather.
"They came in very prepared, and we were in their yard," Slaton said. "We can't have the best games every week. There's going to be times you get stopped, and that's what happened today."
West Virginia entered as the nation's top rushing team and hoped to roll up big numbers again on an East Carolina defense that ranked among the worst in Conference USA against the run.
But coach Skip Holtz's Pirates refused to allow the Mountaineers to run wild, leaving it up to White to make the big plays.
West Virginia led just 17-10 early in the fourth quarter when White flipped a pass to Reynaud, who zigzagged 60 yards back across the field and through the Pirates' defense for the clinching touchdown.
"That was a good gut check for us," Rodriguez said.
Reynaud finished with five catches for 110 yards and became the first West Virginia player with more than 100 yards receiving since November 2004, when Chris Henry had 118 against Boston College.
West Virginia needed big passing numbers because East Carolina derailed the Mountaineers' ground game for the second straight year.
"We probably pressed a little bit too much," Rodriguez said.
The Mountaineers had just 153 yards rushing -- 197 fewer than its nation-leading average of 350; a year ago, East Carolina held West Virginia to just 127 yards rushing.
James Pinkney was 20-of-40 for 247 yards with a touchdown for the Pirates (1-3), and Aundrae Allison had four catches for 54 yards and a touchdown. But East Carolina couldn't get its ground game going, either -- Brandon Fractious led the Pirates with 13 yards rushing, and the Pirates finished with 41 yards on the ground.
"We have to start running the ball to win games," Holtz said. "We can't put the quarterback back there and have everyone know what we're doing and let him continue to take the shots he's taking."
West Virginia dominated the first half, holding three-touchdown underdog East Carolina to 2 yards rushing and gaining 221 yards to the Pirates' 87, but led just 14-7 at halftime largely because of two interceptions thrown by White in the end zone.
White capped West Virginia's opening drive with a 5-yard touchdown run, then flipped his scoring pass to Schmitt early in the second quarter to snap a 7-all tie.
Pinkney found his favorite target -- Allison -- behind the West Virginia defense for a 47-yard touchdown pass midway through the first, tying it 7-7.
Pat McAfee had field goals of 26 and 29 yards in the second half for West Virginia.
The Pirates closed to seven points early in the fourth on Robert Lee's 27-yard field goal.
"It's frustrating to watch a team play that hard and improve as much as they have in some areas but continue to come up short," Holtz said.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Pat McAfee nailed a 26-yard field goal in the third quarter to cap off a 71-yard drive and give the Mountaineers a 10-point lead.
Gameball goes to... Pat White, who completed 17-of-24 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns. It wasn't all pretty, though: White also threw three INTs.
Stat of the game... 42: The Pirates gained just 42 yards on the ground in 24 attempts. They were able to hang in the game by racking up 275 yards in the air.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||3-10||6-15|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||2-3|
|TD||7:37||PAT WHITE 5 YD RUN (PAT MCAFEE KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 37 yards.
|TD||4:00||AUNDRAE ALLISON 47 YD PASS FROM JAMES PINKNEY (ROBERT LEE KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 75 yards.
|TD||9:57||OWEN SCHMITT 3 YD PASS FROM PAT WHITE (PAT MCAFEE KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 49 yards.
|FG||9:43||PAT MCAFEE 26 YD FG|
Drive info: 10 plays, 71 yards.
|FG||13:41||ROBERT LEE 27 YD FG|
Drive info: 14 plays, 58 yards.
|TD||11:29||DARIUS REYNAUD 60 YD PASS FROM PAT WHITE (PAT MCAFEE KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 74 yards.
|FG||6:13||PAT MCAFEE 29 YD FG|
Drive info: 6 plays, 20 yards.