Fourth Quarter Magic

West Virginia had about everything against it on Saturday against Rutgers. At halftime, it looked as if the Mountaineers would lose their second straight game and continue in a tailspin that has almost become tradition.

WVU trailed 31-21 at the half against the Scarlet Knights, and it was as ugly as the score looked.

It wasn't over, though. Not even close.

The Mountaineers used a clutch fourth quarter to eventually win the game 41-31.

In the first half, the Mountaineers' defense was absolutely gashed. The nasty winter weather surely played into that, but Rutgers didn't help either.

The Scarlet Knights saw a mismatch they wanted to take advantage of on offense, and that was the Mountaineers' cornerback position.

Rutgers, despite the snow that covered the field and flew through the air, took to the sky. And, cornerbacks Keith Tandy and Pat Miller were the targets. And, boy did they struggle in the first half.

Tandy got beat on two touchdown passes – one where he didn't wrap up, and another where he just got beat over the top.

Miller was beaten short and long and had a couple of penalties that made him look weak.

The WVU offense had some success on the ground – including a 52-yard touchdown run by Shawne Alston and an 80-yard reverse touchdown run by Tavon Austin.

The passing game struggled behind quarterback Geno Smith in the first half. WVU looked phased by the wind and snow.

The Mountaineers' defense was solid in the second half, particularly in the third quarter when WVU didn't allow a point after such a poor first half.

As soon as defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel's unit got things rolling, the offense couldn't find the end zone.

It's just the story of WVU's season.

WVU needed one drive … one momentum-changing play … to change its fate. It got that play, and the offense took advantage.

In the early part of the fourth quarter, Rutgers decided to try a fake field goal, which safety Darwin Cook broke up. That seemed to be all the momentum the Mountaineers needed.

On the ensuing drive, WVU drove down the field with a truly inspiring drive. West Virginia used the run and the pass with success, and finished off the 11-play, 89-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown by Smith on fourth-and-goal to give the Mountaineers a 34-31 lead.

Two plays later, Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova fumbled, and senior defensive tackle Julian Miller recovered the ball.

A few plays later, Austin caught a short pass and tip-toed down the left sideline to the end zone to take a 41-31 lead with 4:50 left.

That was the dagger.

It was ugly, that's for sure, but the Mountaineers came through in the end, which is all that you can ask for in a game like this.

WVU proved that it could win despite sleet and snow and momentum on the other side.

Now, it's on to the next one. WVU controls its destiny, you know.


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