No. 5 WVU, maximizing its offensive options, had easily scored on its first two possessions. Its initial series produced a Pat McAfee field goal via Vaughn Rivers' 24-yard punt return. Its second was just three plays, wideout Darius Reynaud taking a reverse for 64 yards and superback Steve Slaton punching in two plays later for his 42nd career rushing touchdown, tying the all-time mark held by Ira Errett Rodgers and Avon Cobourne. What the Mountaineers (4-0) hadn't done was sustain an elongated drive – or convert a third down.
With quarterback Patrick White at the controls, West Virginia assumed possession after a second ECU three-and-out in three drives. Starting at the 17, WVU mixed Slaton around fellow tailback Noel Devine for gains of 17, five and one yard. On third and six, White dropped and found receiver Tito Gonzales in the middle of the zone for 12 yards to the 40. East Carolina forced another third down at its own 37. It was a chance for the Pirates to at least force West Virginia into a long field goal try or a fourth down attempt. Grasping for any kind of success, ECU head coach Skip Holtz brought the blitz.
White took the shotgun snap and waited. And waited a bit longer. WVU's line stonewalled ECU's front four and held off the six-man charge until wideout Dorrell Jalloh popped open on a slow-developing crossing pattern. White delivered a solid strike into the numbers. The wideout, who sprung Reynaud on his long run with a crushing block, cradled the 13-yard pass to turn a third and 11 into a first and 10 at the 24. The Mountaineers were again close to the red zone, and, after nine plays in the eventual 13-snap march, were slashing away at the Pirates will and reserve.
The two conversions showed WVU's ability to convert on medium- and long-range possession plays and its passing possibilities. The total team effort got the ball into the end zone again, this on a White keeper for a touchdown and a 17-0 lead that ballooned to 24-0 with little more than two minutes left in the half after consecutive ECU three-and-outs. The game was mentally over for the Pirates then, and when Jarrett Brown entered and led a final drive to another score and a 27-0 deficit – the largest since East Carolina trailed Southern Miss 35-0 at the half in 2004 – the Mountaineers, eventual 48-7 winners, could begin rolling in the reserves in preparation for a short week upcoming versus South Florida.
The pair of third down conversions didn't loom large in the overall stats, with West Virginia racking up 599 yards of total offense and holding ECU to just 160 total yards, and minus-11 rushing in the first half. But the two plays keyed a drive in which WVU put itself ahead by more than two scores and began to put any thoughts of another close game or Pirates upset out of reach, while further bolstering its ability to make the pass play, when (or if) needed – something that will be a huge asset against a South Florida that is the lone one in the Big East able to match WVU's speed.