Gored

West Virginia capped an undefeated Big East regular season with a workmanlike 28-13 win over South Florida.

The win was marked by two lengthy Pat White touchdown runs of markedly different styles. The first, a straight speed 65-yard run on an option keeper, saw the lightning fast freshman turn the corner and simply outrun the Bull defense to the end zone. Two series later, White made the best scoring run this side of Major Harris' 28-yarder against Penn State.

On this one, White, keeping the ball as he sprinted through the line, seemingly juked the entire Bull defenses on a 76-yard jaunt to the end zone. The last ten yards of the run were almost beyond comprehension, as White made two moves inside the ten, cut back at the five yard line, completely reversed his field, then dove into the end zone to five WVU an insurmountable 28-6 lead with 10:53 to play.

Prior to that point, the game had been a quick-moving, if grinding affair. With both teams riding their running games, the clock moved quickly for most of the first half. WVU struck first, taking the opening kickoff and driving 66 yards in 12 plays, 11 of them runs. Steve Slaton who rushed for 43 yards on the drive, sprinted around left end untouched to put WVU in front 7-0, giving the 6-7,000 Mountaineer fans in attendance visions of a an easy victory. That hope was intensified when WVU halted a USF drive and again drove the field, this time gaining a first and goal at the USF eight-yard line. However, the Bull defense stiffened at that point, and Pat McAfee's 27-yard field goal attempt was wide right.

As so often happens after a defensive stand, the offense came to life for the Bulls. USF drove to the WVU two-yard line for a first down, but at that point the Mountaineers made the first of what would be three key stands on the evening. West Virginia stuffed two USF runs, and halted a pass attempt, forcing a Kyle Bronson field goal that cut the lead to 7-3.

Two series later, West Virginia moved to the USF thirteen yard line, but then lost six yards on two carries to set up a third down and 16 situation. WVU crossed up the Bulls with an inside handoff to Owen Schmitt on a triple option read, and Schmitt rumbled to a first down. After another loss of four, White found Darius Reynaud for a seven yard touchdown pass to put West Virginia ahead 14-3.

West Virginia came out a bit lethargic in the third quarter, and USF took advantage. Taking the opening kickoff, the Bulls drove to West Virginia's three-yard line, but the Mountaineers then mounted their second goaline stand, forcing another Bronson field goal.

Leading by just 14-6, WVU need a momentum changer, and it got it. White cut inside the defensive end on an option and outraced the entire Bull defense to the end zone, giving WVU more breathing room at 21-6.

After an exchange of punts, the Bulls mounted their last effort to make a game of it. Starting on their own seven yard line, USF ran off a marathon 17-play drive that consumed eight minutes and 24 seconds, but WVU was again up to the challenge. On fourth down and five, WVU held backup quarterback Carlton Hill, who played in a planned rotation with starter Pat Julmiste, to three yards.

Properly sparked, WVU responded to the thrid big stop by the defense with a bit more White magic. After gianing four yards on first down, White sprinted, scampered, bobbed and weaved 76 yards for West Virginia's fourth touchdown of the evening, and one that put a nail in the coffin of USF's hopes.

White finished with 11 carries for 177 yards and two touchdowns, while Steve Slaton added 86 yards on 28 carries against a defense designed to stop him. West Virginia held USF star back Andre Hall to 75 yards on 20 carries. The Bulls completed half of their 38 passes for 221 yards, but were unable to hit any deep balls against WVU's defense. The Mountaineers picked off three USF passes and managed to keep the Bulls in front of them for most of the evening.

WVU now moves on to a likely Sugar Bowl date with Georgia. The Bulldogs crushed LSU 34-7 in the SEC championship game.


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