Not Ready For Prime Time

Special teams blunders killed West Virginia as Boston College returned two punts for touchdowns and two kickoffs into West Virginia territory for another ten points to throttle West Virginia 36-17 in front of 58,113 at Mountaineer Field.

West Virginia racked up 462 yards of total offense, and held Boston College to 243, including 50 in the entire second half, but critical mistakes in the kicking game doomed the Mountaineers to failure.

"It was embarrassing," said an obviously disgusted Rich Rodriguez after the game. "You can't give up field position like that."

In front of a sell-out crowd and an ABC regional television audience, WVU (8-2, 4-1) let down the Big East and proved what many national pundits have been saying for months. West Virginia just isn't that good and the Big East isn't either.

BC quarterback Paul Peterson picked the Mountaineer defense apart at will to start the game, the Mountaineer defense could not stop BC's paltry running game, and the Mountaineer offense committed several crucial blunders that helped turn a close ballgame into a first half rout as the Eagles took a 24-7 lead into the locker room.

Boston College (7-2, 3-1) began the game with a 34-yard kickoff return of a short Brad Cooper kick, and started their first drive at the Mountaineer 47-yard line. In a picture of things to come, Peterson hit a wide open Grant Adams for eight yard and the Eagles were off and running. Peterson next hit fullback Lee Everett for an 11-yard gain on third down to keep the BC drive alive, and four plays later, Peterson hit tailback L.V. Wentworth on a screen pass, that he waltzed into the end zone from 10 yards out to give BC the lead at 7-0.

The Mountaineers wasted no time in setting their tone on offense. On first down Rasheed Marshall hit John Pennington for an eight-yard gain to the WVU 26. Kay Jay Harris then bolted off the left side for an eight-yard gain to give the Mountaineers a first down. Marshall ran off the left side for an 18-yard gain on first down to the BC 48-yard line. Harris then took a toss from Marshall and rushed for eight yards on first down, giving the Mountaineers had a second down and two at the BC 40. Pernell Williams, making his first home start for WVU, then ran up the middle for a tough yard. On third down, the Mountaineers tried to run a counter with Harris, who was stopped for a two-yard loss. Rasheed Marshall then punted out of the spread formation and the ball was downed at the BC five-yard line.

Boston College moved the ball from the five out to the WVU 29-yard line before Craig Wilson sacked Peterson for a six-yard loss on third down, forcing BC to punt.

West Virginia received the ball at their own 23-yard line, but the drive stalled when Marshall was sacked on third down for a six-yard loss, and WVU was forced to punt. Phil Brady's punt was downed at the BC 38-yard line, but Ridwan Malik was called for a personal foul during the kick, and WVU was forced to re-kick, this time from the 10-yard line. BC's Dejuan Tribble fielded the re-kick at the WVU 41-yard line and raced untouched into the end zone to give BC the lead at 14-0.

West Virginia bolted right out of the gates on their next drive, as Harris burst through the left side of the line and ran for 47 yards to the BC 26. Marshall then hit Pennington for six yards and Henry for ten yards, and WVU had a first and goal on the BC nine-yard line. Harris took a toss off the left side and barreled down to the one, and then Marshall finished the drive with a two-yard run on third down to cut the BC lead to 14-7.

After trading punts, BC got on the board again in the second quarter. Taking possession at their own 30-yard line, the Eagles again took to the air. Peterson hit Chris Miller for eight yards on first down as the Mountaineer defense again left the flat route uncovered. Four plays later Peterson hit Larry Lester on a crossing pattern for 21 yards that moved the ball to the West Virginia 32. Andre Callender ran up the middle for ten yards on the next play and BC had a first down at the 22. The Mountaineer defense held, and Ryan Ohliger came on and kicked a 44-yard field goal to extend BC's lead to 17-7 with 8:39 remaining in the first half.

The Mountaineers again had no trouble moving the ball on the BC defense as they moved quickly from their own 16-yard line to the BC 47. However, Marshall's pass to Joe Hunter was picked off by BC's Ryan Glasper at the BC 23 and returned seven yards to the 30.

The Mountaineer defense responded by forcing a BC punt after three plays, giving WVU possession at its own 39. Marshall hit Harris with a swing pass and Kay Jay scampered 24 yards on the first play of the drive to move the ball to the BC 37-yard line. Then things took a bizarre turn. After WVU had moved the ball nine yards on three plays, the Mountaineers were left with a fourth and one at the BC 28. Inexplicably, the Mountaineers wasted the entire play clock, and instead of taking a time out took a delay of game penalty, costing them five yards. Then on fourth down and six, the Mountaineers again seemed baffled at what play to run. Coach Rodriguez finally settled on a QB draw, and Marshall was stopped after a three-yard gain.

Unfortunately for WVU, that aborted drive left the Eagles with plenty of time to score. And unlike some of WVU's lesser opponents this year, BC took advantage of the opportunity. The Eagles mounted their longest drive of the game, marching 70 yards in ten plays in 1:05 to score a touchdown. Peterson hit tight end David Kashetta in the end zone with eight seconds left in the half. That score extended the lead to 24-7, and gave the Eagles a huge lift heading into the half.

The key play on the drive was a second and ten from the WVU 43, when Peterson was chased out of the pocket by the Mountaineer rush. Peterson found Larry Lester, who was clearly out of bounds when the ball was thrown, for a 29-yard reception that moved the ball to the Mountaineer 14. Replays showed Lester with both feet out of bounds on the play, but the stellar Big East crew did not catch the infraction.

Vaughn Rivers extended the litany of WVU woes when he fumbled the second half kickoff, giving the Eagles the ball on deep in Mountaineer territory. However, it was immediately apparent that the Mountaineer defense was not interested in giving up another touchdown. BC was held to minus eight yards on the drive, but Ohliger came on to kick a career long 47-yard field goal to extend the lead to 27-7 with just over one minute gone in the second half.

West Virginia started to take over the game with 7:18 remaining in the third quarter. After Adam Jones misplayed a punt and watched the ball roll forty yards back to the WVU nine, Marshall ran back onto the field and started to get things done. Marshall hit Pennington for a nice gain on first down, and then found Henry on a ten-yard strike. In all, Marshall ran for 29 yards on the drive and threw for 48, including a six-yard pass to Chris Henry that cut the BC lead to 27-14.

That got the Mountaineer crowd back into the game, and the defense did not disappoint. BC was forced to punt after three downs, and the Mountaineers again took over at their own nine-yard line. Marshall got things started with a bomb to Henry for 41 yards on second down to move the ball to the BC 48-yard line. Three plays later, on third and nine, Marshall rolled out to the right, and found John Pennington for a 16-yard gain to give WVU a first down at the BC 31-yard line. Two plays after that, Marshall hit Henry for 20 yards down to the BC 11-yard line, and the Mountaineer crowd was ready to explode. And explode they did, when on third down and eight from the nine-yard line, Henry was held on his way into the end zone on a Marshall pass attempt that fell incomplete. Brad Cooper came on and booted a 25-yard field goal to cut the BC lead to ten at 27-17, but a bit of the air seemed to go out of the Mountaineer balloon.

Again the Mountaineer special teams let BC put a halt to the momentum. BC linebacker Brian Toal picked up Cooper's squib kick at the BC 20. Toll took off like a man possessed and was not brought down until he reached the WVU 37-yard line. The Mountaineer defense forced a field goal attempt after only 18 yards, but Ohliger's kick was good, which extended the Eagles' lead to 30-17.

West Virginia's offense could not keep up the pace on the next drive. Rasheed Marshall was hurt on a third down run, and Phil Brady came on to punt. The Eagles put the game away with a 71-yard Will Blackmon touchdown return, their second of the day.

Kay Jay Harris finished with 19 carries for 112 yards. Marshall finished the day 21 of 35 for 224 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Marshall also carried the ball 20 times for 100 yards and a touchdown. John Pennington caught a career high five passes for 48 yards. Chris Henry caught eight passes for 118 yards and a celebration free touchdown.

WVU now has 12 days to recover from the loss, as they prepare to meet Pitt on Thanksgiving night in Pittsburgh.

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