Steve Slaton ran for three touchdowns and quarterback Pat White rushed for
156 yards and a score as the Mountaineers beat the No. 25 Scarlet Knights 31-3
on Saturday, their 13th straight victory in the series.
Slaton went from sideline to sideline on a spectacular 38-yard run that gave West Virginia (7-1, 2-1 Big East) the early lead, and he scored on second-half runs of 1 and 6 yards to bury Rutgers (5-3, 2-2).
White, who missed last year's wild 41-39 triple overtime win over Rutgers with an ankle injury, scored on a 1-yard run. He drove Scarlet Knights defenders crazy with an elusiveness that had to excite the seven bowl representatives at the game. He also threw for 144 yards, highlighted by a 51-yard screen pass to Slaton to set up a touchdown.
Pat McAfee added a 42-yard field goal into the wind on the final play of the first half, and he also helped out when one of his punts hit off the foot of a Rutgers player and was recovered at the Scarlet Knights 31. That set up White's score.
Jeremy Ito kicked a 39-yard field goal for Rutgers, which was hurt by missed tackles and dropped passes. The Scarlet Knights saw their chances of a first BSC berth ended by the Mountaineers for the second straight year.
Had Rutgers beaten West Virginia last December, it would have won the conference title and the BCS berth.
West Virginia intercepted a banged-up Mike Teel twice, recovered two fumbles, and kept halfback Ray Rice from breaking any big runs. Teel has a bruised throwing hand.
When Rutgers had its chances, it didn't convert in a game that was played in a heavy rain during the first half. With the Scarlet Knights trailing 17-3 in the third quarter, tackle Pedro Sosa was called for holding on a second-and-1 from the Mountaineers 14.
Instead of getting a first-and-goal, the Scarlet Knights were pushed back and Ito was wide right on a 41-yard field goal attempt.
West Virginia took over and went 75 yards. White and Slaton hooked up on the 51-yard screen on a third-and-13 from their 22. Slaton capped the drive by walking into the end zone for his 50th career TD.
Slaton gave West Virginia the lead for good with his run late in the first quarter. Taking a handoff, he found his path around the left side blocked, cut back to his right, avoided a tackle and got into the corner of the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
The next West Virginia score was set up by a fluke play in the second quarter.
McAfee hit a line-drive punt from around his own 40 that hit off the heel of Rutgers' Ramy Nubani. It was recovered by Mortty Ivy at the 31. Five plays later, White scored on a keeper. He fumbled near the goal line, but a review allowed the touchdown to stand.
Rutgers had a chance to get back in the game on the next possession, driving to the Mountaineers 22. But Teel's pass to Tiquan Underwood in the end zone was broken up by Ryan Mundy's hit, and Ito settled for his 70th career field goal.
McAfee got that score right back with his kick that barely cleared the crossbar. It capped an 11-play, 60-yard drive that featured runs of 22 and 13 yards by White.
Teel finished 14-of-30 for 128 yards, while Rice carried 30 times for 142 yards.