Add in fellow frosh Steve Slaton, who ran for 179 yards (5.3 per carry), and West Virginia's one-two punch was enough even on an 15-degree night when head coach Rich Rodriguez scrapped the passing game.
"People say you need to be balanced, but you don't have to pass when you can run for 450 yards," Rodriguez said.
West Virginia did that and more. The No. 12 Mountaineers (9-1, 6-0 Big East) tallied 451 yards on the ground in amassing 492 total yards. It ran 62 running plays out of 72 snaps, attacking Pitt when it lost Big Eas leading tackler H.B. Blades after the first series. Blades did not return from an ankle sprain.
Pitt managed just 122 yards on 31 runs, much of it meaningless late yardage. That held for its passing, as the Panthers (5-6, 4-3) were still throwing down 25 with two minutes left.
"No one thought we'd be in this situation," Rodriguez said. "No one could tell how fast the new guys would pick up the system or how they would handle anything."
If that was the test, consider White and Slaton a potential academic all-Big East player as well. They were responsible for 170 of WVU's 175 first-quarter yards. The two had already led a spirited comeback versus Louisville and both have ran past three foes in a row while executing WVU's complex offense with alarming ability. The latest roadkill was a Pitt team that vowed to "come down here for another shutout," according to one defensive player.
The duo ended that threat three series' in. White had 80 rushing yards on WVU's second drive, including a 46-yarder off a designed pass play that moved the ball to the one-yard line. The Mountaineers scored after two penalties when White rolled left, could not find a receiver, then rolled right and located a wide-open Slaton.
Slaton went deep after his first pattern was covered, and White got him the ball in the back right of the north end zone for the 16-yard score.
"We got blocked every way you can get blocked," said Pitt head coach Dave Wannstedt. "We couldn't get off our blocks quick enough to get (White) on the ground. He did a great job of making things happen."
West Virginia scored again on its next drive, an 11-play, 74-yard march. Slaton carried five straight times to move the ball from the 42 to the four before White dove in on a keeper from the four. Pitt also scored, but placekicker Josh Cummings missed the point after because of a bad snap to trail 14-13 with 12:08 remaining before the half.
The two answering scores didn't worry White, who seems unshakable during the stretch drive of the season. The lefty could have began to fold three plays later, when he threw his fourth interception of the year to corner Josh Lay on an errant throw over the middle.
But WVU's defense played one of its biggest series' of the season, forcing a three and out and putting the offense back on the field after a touchback on the punt. Two series' later West Virginia's Antonio Lewis set up a final touchdown of the first half with a 21-yard return up the middle. The Mountaineers needed to drive just 49 yards and did on eight plays, aided by an unsportsmanlike personal foul penalty on Chris McKillop that pushed the ball from the 35 to the 20-yard line. Slaton and White each traded runs for four plays; White rushed in on a left sweep for the 21-13 halftime lead.
The drive was a microcosm of the first half, in which White (151) and Slaton (102) were responsible for all but five of WVU's 258 rushing yards. Fullback owen Schmitt had the other five on one carry. West Virginia's rush-to-pass ratio was 35 to six, or almost 5:1. It threw for just 20 yards. Pitt had 174 passing yards, but just 45 on the ground on 14 carries, little more than three yards per pop.
"I feel like it was a talking game from the beginning," WVU bandit Eric Wicks said. "There was too much talking in the beginning. When the momentum went out way and we started playing harder and harder, then the pads did the talking. That is what should have happened in the first place."
West Virginia forced turnovers on the first two Pitt drives of the second half. Receiver Erik Gill fumbled after being hit by Jay Henry before Stephens –Howling fumbled after being hit by Eric Wicks. Jahmile Addae and Ernest Hunter recovered, respectively. But the Mountaineers went three and out as Pitt started to stop the run. That left WVU, up 24-13, with just three points on two short fields. But the final quarter would be owned by West Virginia.
Trailing 31-13, the Panthers drove inside the WVU red zone early in the fourth quarter before defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel used a pair of well-disguised blitzes on third and fourth down that harassed Palko and caused two incompletions to effectively end any Pitt threat.
WVU took over and its offense pushed another score across on eight plays, all ran by either Slaton or White, for an insurmountable 38-13 lead with 5:52 left. The WVU defense scored two possessions later when Addae intercepted Palko and ran 40 yards into the end zone. It was West Virginia's fourth turnover of the game and its third at the Pitt 40-yard line. Jeff Noechel sealed the game on the next series with an interception, Pitt's fifth turnover. It had six fumbles.
"I knew if we just kept doing what we were doing that we would be fine, whether they wanted to run, pass, play the clock out or try to score," Addae said. "Whether they had hopes or didn't have hopes, we kept the heat on in the second half and that was a deciding factor. They did not score."
White completed four of 10 passes for 41 yards and the 16-yard score to Slaton. Palsko was 24-43 for 308 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions. WVU did not turn the ball over in winning its 22nd game Big East game in 26 tries. It held the ball six minutes more than Pitt and had edges in nearly every category.
The resounding win answered Wannstedt, who questioned West Virginia's ability to recruit western Pennsylvania before the game.
"Well, it helps us a bit in that respect, since some people say we can't recruit western Pennsylvania," Rodriguez said. "But it makes it tougher, too, because we have to get ready for bowl games while others can spend off time calling recruits. We want to spend as much time as we can with them, but we have to play in a bowl."
The legendary Huff had his jersey retired during the game. The four-year letterwinner started as a guard as a sophomore and tackle the next two years. The native of No. 9 Mine in Marion County, W.Va. helped lead WVU to a 31-7 record and the 1954 Sugar Bowl.
Huff was drafted in the third round by the New York Giants and played from 1956-69, He was in six NFL championship games and five pro bowls. He had 30 career interceptions and was regarded as the finest NFL linebacker of that era and is in the NFL and College Football Halls of Fame.