Dreary Day, Dreary Game Still Yields WVU Win

On a dreary, ugly fall afternoon the Mountaineer football team improved to 7-1 on the season, taking out the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in Piscataway, N.J. by a score of 35-30.

The Mountaineers won the toss, but deferred their decision to the second half. On the first play from scrimmage, free safety Jahmile Addae stepped in front of a Ryan Hart pass to give the offense the ball at the Rutgers 41 yard line. An eight play drive was capped off by a five yard run by freshman Pernell Williams, making his first start of his young collegiate career.

After a nifty tackle on the kickoff by Kay-Jay Harris, the Mountaineer defense again went to work, and forced Rutgers to go three and out on their second possession. Ben Lynch contributed a sack on third down to stave off any hope of a Knight first down.

Coming out of the timeout, the Mountaineers ran a reverse to Pacman Jones who juked and jived his way to a 26 yard gain. The second West Virginia drive of the day ended with Rasheed Marshall's seven yard TD scramble. With just over seven minutes left in the first quarter, the Mountaineers held a 14-0 lead, and the contest had all the makings of a blowout.

Rutgers wasn't ready to fold yet, and marched off a 10 play, 70 yard drive, the last 27 yards of which came on a touchdown pass from Ryan Hart to Tres Moses. West Virginia's offense stalled and Rutgers got the ball back. The Scarlet Knights were driving, but junior college transfer Dee McCann picked off a pass for the Mountaineers on a nifty play, diving in front of the Rutgers receiver and picking the ball off. No points would come of the turnover, however.

Rutgers got the ball back and marched down the field in just five plays, scoring on a 22 yard pass from Hart to Marcus Daniels. The Blue and Gold answered back, with Kay Jay Harris running around the left end for a three yard TD. The biggest play of the drive, however, was a 27 yard quarterback run by Marshall, the Big East's all-time leading rusher as a quarterback.

McCann continued his outstanding day by forcing and recovering a fumble on a Rutgers pass. The Mountaineers had the opportunity to go up two scores, but were unable to convert on the Rutgers side of the field. McCann again forced a fumble, this time it was recovered by Mike Lorello. Brad Cooper tried a 46 yard field goal that sailed wide right at the horn. Halftime score: West Virginia 21, Rutgers 14.

The Mountaineers got the second half kickoff, but couldn't do anything offensively and punted back to Rutgers. The Mountaineer defense bent, but didn't break, giving up a field goal as the State University of New Jersey cut the lead to four points. The third quarter ended without anymore scoring, and heading into the final frame the count stood WVU 21, Rutgers 17.

While the third quarter was pretty dull, the fourth was nothing less than a fully blown sideshow.

The very first play of the quarter, Marshall dropped back and hit a leaping Chris Henry who sprinted all the way down to the Rutgers six yard line. After the play, Henry dropped the ball and did the infamous "crossed arms" gesture and was flagged fifteen yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. Jason Colson, playing despite battling the flu all week, ripped off a nice 16 yard run on second down that set up Marshall's first touchdown pass of the game to senior Miquelle Henderson. It was the Alabama native's first touchdown of the year.

The defense came up big and got the ball back to Marshall and the offense. After three Colson runs, Rasheed lofted a pass to the front pylon of the end zone where Henry made a sensational catch for his 10th touchdown of the season. After the touchdown, the Rutgers defender continued to shove Henry while he was on the ground, and Henry fired the ball off the defender's facemask. That drew another flag for unsportsmanlike conduct, and Henry was ejected from the game. Rodriguez gave the talented receiver an earful after the play. When Henry got to the bench, he sat down and was showered with jeers as well as an assortment of trash coming from the Rutgers crowd. Henry kept enticing the crowd and was literally pulled into the tunnel from the Mountaineer sideline by strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis.

Back on the playing field, the Scarlet Knights marched off a 12 play 71 yard scoring drive to trim the Mountaineer lead to 11. It was evident that this football game was far from over.

After the Mountaineers went three and out again, the home team kept its offensive momentum rolling, marching off a 12 play drive that covered 80 yards in just under two minutes. Rutgers running back Brian Leonard pulled his team within five on his two yard touchdown run, but a two point conversion attempt failed.

Thanks to a 22 yard dash by Colson on third and eight, West Virginia escaped with a five point victory over a Rutgers team that, given another drive, probably would have won the game. Nevertheless, the Mountaineers are now 7-1, and still unblemished in the Big East Conference. Up next, for the final time, the Temple Owls who come to Morgantown for the second straight season.

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