Players of the Game: West Virginia - Pitt

With the Pitt defense bottling up Steve Slaton's rushing yards for most of the night, sophomore quarterback Patrick White took matters into his own hands to lead West Virginia to victory in the Backyard Brawl.

White ran and threw his way around and over the porous Pitt defense. The Panthers, like every other team, keyed on Slaton the runner to start the game. White, who according to some critics "can't throw" found his partner in crime through the air. The sophomore from Daphne, Ala. finished the game 11-16 through the air for 204 yards and two touchdowns. His favorite target was Slaton, who hauled in six passes for 130 yards, and touchdowns of 11 and 67 yards. The 67 yard touchdown pass was the longest of White's career.

On the ground, Patrick matched his rushing total from last year's Backyard Brawl with 220 yards on 22 carries (just one carry less than last year's 23). His 64 yard touchdown jaunt in the third quarter basically sealed the victory for West Virginia. White also became the first quarterback in Big East and school history to go over the 1,000 yard plateau for a season. He now shows 1,057 rushing yards on the season with three games remaining.

On defense, sophomore linebacker Reed Williams had his second consecutive great game. The Moorefield, W.Va. native had a team-high six tackles. Despite not starting, Williams got just about equal reps with starting strong side linebacker Bobby Hathaway.

Reed Williams

For the second straight week, Reed was also a pest in the opposing backfield, picking up 2.5 tackles for a loss, including two sacks. One of those sacks was a linebacker's dream, as Williams came untouched on Pitt quarterback Tyler Palko's blindside to level the senior signal-caller. GAME BALLS

  • The first game ball has to go to Slaton, who if he cared, might demand a recount in the Player of the Game voting. The sophomore Doak Walker Award candidate became the first player in school history to register 100 yards receiving and rushing in the same game. His 215 yards rushing were a career best, despite the fact that he totaled only seven yards rushing in the first half. Slaton scored on touchdown runs of 11 and 55 yards.

    Slaton and White become the first Mountaineers to eclipse 200 yards rushing in the same game.

  • The second game ball goes to Antonio Lewis. The Waldorf, Md. product played more aggressive than ever against the Panthers. Lewis totaled just two tackles, but broke up a pair of passes and sacked Palko for a loss of 15 yards.

    Antonio's play was a microcosm of the Mountaineer defense in the second half. Coordinator Jeff Casteel and his defensive assistants made the necessary halftime adjustments to come out on top in the Brawl.

  • The final game ball goes to Pittsburgh native Eric Wicks. The senior spur/bandit registered six tackles on the night, three of which came on quarterback sacks. Wicks also picked up a pair of quarterback hurries to fill out the stat column.

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