The quarterback, reading Louisville's man defense, exploded up the middle and broke left, going 50 yards for the game-winning score as the No. 7 Mountaineers held on to beat UL 38-31 late Thursday night. The touchdown, White's third of the game when combined with his two passing scores, came with 1:29 remaining, a lifetime against a Louisville offense that had just scored TDs on two of its previous three series to tie the game.
The lone other possession was ended on an Eric Wicks interception on a deep ball over the middle. But the one's flanking that key play went a combined 109 yards in just 10 plays, an average of 10.9 yards per play, or a first down every snap. Contrast that with a WVU offense that was going backwards when it was moving at all. The Mountaineers' previous five drives before White's run went Fumble-Punt-Punt-Punt-Fumble. The latter fumble was White's one of his two on the game. But like has has so many times before, both New year's Day bowl wins included, he made enough plays to secure a game in which West Virginia, at times, did not play well, let alone its best.
"It's definitely a big win," said White, who finished 16 of 25 passing for 181 yards. "They beat us last year at their place and it has been a great series between us and Louisville. I was glad to pull it out today. It was a big win. There were too many mistakes, though. We know we didn't play good. We played for maybe two quarters. We have to get in there and get things fixed."
West Virginia's defense, aided by Pat McAfee's kickoff that was mishandled and recovered at the one-yard line, held UL for the third time in the last six possessions, the other three ending in two touchdowns and a field goal. Quarterback Brian Brohm moved UL from the one to his own 41-yard line, but could get no further. With nine seconds left, he dropped to pass. With everything covered, the senior decided to heave a ball deep. That was intercepted by Antonio Lewis to seal the win.
West Virginia (8-1, 3-1 Big East) beat Louisville for the second time in three Big East meetings and the seventh time in nine games overall. White tallied a game-high 147 yards rushing, with the long of 50. Steve Slaton finished with 60. Louisville was led by George Stripling's 23. The Cardinals (5-5, 2-3) rang up 382 yards of total offense to West Virginia's 397.
"They had everything covered in the passing game," White said of the last play. "That gave me a seam and the offense line did a good job of cutting the big boys down. It was great blocking downfield and I got into the end zone. Everything covered and there's the opening."
Mountaineers' head coach Rich Rodriguez said the play was a called pass, which White just reacted to.
."I know the last drive, it wasn't a draw," Rodriguez said. "He scored on a pass play. He made a nice read. Thy dropped everybody out and it was really the first time we got loose for a big play. It obviously came at a great time. His first response to after the game was relieved. That was a pretty good sentiment. As I told the team, I would rather win ugly than lose pretty. We certainly made enough mistakes today to last a whole season. We hung in there, though."