Darius Reynaud's reverse and Mortty Ivy's first career interception ratio to snuff East Carolina and settle any early West Virginia jitters lift the duo to among the closest Player of the Game honors in BlueGoldNews.com history.
Reynaud jumpstarted the No. 5 Mountaineers (4-0) with his 64-yard reverse that setup superback Steve Slaton's school record-tying 42nd career touchdown run. He finished with a 12-yard touchdown reception. In between, the shifty senior receiver made four catches for 54 yards and scored two touchdowns. West Virginia's X factor emerged early, and played well in every facet, showing his explosion and "ball skills" along with his ability to catch-and-run despite a sprained shoulder that kept him from starting. Add in his downfield blocking to open holes for Slaton and help the running game to 397 yards and he edges quarterback Patrick White – a sensational 18 of 20, but with just one pass of more than 30 yards – for offensive MVP honors in the 48-7 win.
Ivy intercepted East Carolina quarterback Patrick Pinkney on the Pirates' first possession, stopping a promising drive that could have left ECU thinking it could again play with its superior opponent. Ahead just 3-0 when Pinkey rolled slightly left and tossed downfield into the flats, Ivy stepped in front of the pass, securing the ball and falling out of bounds. The pick was a huge stop of ECU, which had consecutive gains of 9, 6, 5, 8 and 12 yards, easily moving downfield before the Pittsburgh native made the play. He finished with a team-high six tackles, including one sack of 10 yards and a forced fumble.
Vaughn Rivers. The smallish corner again came up big in the punt return game. A sure-handed senior, Rivers has both the concentration and hands to catch every punt, not letting anything bounce and turn into a turnover or field position disaster. In addition to defensive duties, he handled six punt returns for 93 yards and almost broke two for a score. Head coach Rich Rodriguez said if the units could have blocked "just a bit better," Rivers would have easily scored. His ability to maintain – or often better – the offensives start has been, was, and will continue to be a major aspect.
Patrick White. The junior completed the 18 of 20 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns. His decision making was excellent, and though he didn't rip off his normally routine long running gains, he did score twice, making him at least partially accountable for four of WVU's six touchdowns. White carved up ECU's defense and made the right reads on nearly every play.
"I thought Pat was extraordinary," Rodriguez said. "I felt he was ready to play another game and I felt he was going to have a good one. He was as sharp as you could be in all his decisions, run reads, throwing the ball, bubble screens. In this offense, there are multiple decisions that the quarterback and offense has to make on every play. They made the right ones today, and I thought we did a great job of perimeter blocking."
The receivers. West Virginia's wideouts made some solid catches, but it was their excellent downfield blocks that earned this honor – including a pair that showcased very different skills. Dorrell Jalloh's physical, though more technical, block sprung Reynaud downfield on his reverse. Wes Lyons' pancake of a defensive back on a wideout screen totally smothered the corner and opened a small lane for a smaller gain. Jalloh later sealed the inside of the field for a Patrick White touchdown. Overall, the downfield blocking was very good, something that will be a must next week versus South Florida.
Johnny Dingle and the odd stack. Nasty – all game long. It held East Carolina to just 160 yards rushing and pitched a shutout until the final ECU series. Led by Ivy and the push of Johnny Dingle up front, West Virginia allowed 29 yards on 22 plays at the break. And with the offense helping build a 27-0 lead by then, the damage was done. Dingle harassed East Carolina's Patrick Pinkney all game and finished with three tackles and one sack. More importantly, his play helped take pressure off the backup nose tackles that filled in for the injured Keilen Dykes for the majority of the game.