The No. 2 Mountaineers (10-2, 5-2 Big East) trailed rival Pitt 13-7. The ball rested on the 46-yard line, just 162 feet between it and the desperate score needed to head to the title game. Then the same mistakes that robbed West Virginia of a chance robbed it of an opportunity.
White came on for a second consecutive drive after sitting out WVU's first four of the second half, when the Mountaineers had managed just four three-and-outs with two fumbles. Add in Vaughn Rivers' fumble on the opening kickoff of the third quarter and West Virginia had run just four plays until White came back in after injuring his non-throwing hand with 5:12 left in the second quarter when he landed upon it, dislocating a thumb. The first White second half drive was another three and out, but the hero fo so many wins got another chance.
White ran for one yard, then hit Darius Reynaud along the sideline for 20 yards to the Pitt 33. He picked his way for 12 more, and, with the ball at the 21, the Mountaineer faithful sensed redemption for all the heartbreaking losses that had come before. This wouldn't be Notre Dame in 1989, Florida in '93, Miami in '96, Ohio State in '98 or Boston College in 2003. This unit would finally exorcize so many demons dating even back to a Sugar Bowl loss under Sam Huff. But then came the avalanche that seems perpetually against the Mountaineers.
White threw two incompletions, and one final deadly mistake, a muffed handle of the shotgun snap, forced a fourth and forever. It was really 17 yards, but that can seem a long, long way. Never was it farther than in this game. White dropped, looking to pass. He lofted a ball downfield to beat the blitz, hanging it up for the 6-8 Wes Lyons to make a play. The ball drifted out of bounds, and Lyons could not make the play. Pitt gifted a meaningless safety when its punter ran out of the end zone as time expired. Pitt, 13-9.
"It was just a nightmare. The whole thing was a nightmare," WVU head coach Rich Rodriguez said. "I didn't sleep well for a week and I won't sleep well for the next couple."
Neither will many others.