Folsom Field Blues

BOULDER, Colo. -- The return of a dominant running game, a spirited comeback and an improved defense were not enough for West Virginia to claim its second victory of the 2008 regular season.

Aric Goodman's 25-yard field goal in the first overtime lifted Colorado (3-0) to a 17-14 primetime victory over West Virginia (1-2) at Folsom Field.

"I just went out there and went through my checklist," said Goodman. "I hit it, and fortunately it went through."

Early on, it looked as though the Buffaloes would roll past the visiting Mountaineers, with West Virginia's young and maligned secondary again looking suspect in the early going. Colorado converted a pair of third downs on the game's opening drive, leading to a 38-yard touchdown pass from Cody Hawkins to Josh Smith.

West Virginia's offense, looking to respond, instead shot itself in the foot. Pat White fired the ball in the flat to receiver Bradley Starks, who was lit up by CU defensive lineman Brandon Nicolas. The ball popped loose, with CU's Maurice Lucas corralling it.

Five plays later, Hawkins struck again, finding tight end Patrick Devenny from 13 yards out to make it 14-0 Colorado.

By the end of the first quarter, it looked as though it would be more of the same from WVU's secondary. Hawkins had 105 yards passing and the two touchdowns in the game's opening 15 minutes. The Buffs also converted four of their five third-down opportunities.

Instead of laying down, though, the Mountaineers buckled down. Quarterback Patrick White led his offense on a five play, 58-yard drive concluding with his five-yard touchdown run. It was West Virginia's first touchdown run of the season, and more importantly, pulled the Mountaineers within one score of Colorado.

Senior Reed Williams, playing his first game of the season, looked to have put West Virginia in a grand position to draw closer, picking off a Hawkins pass attempt and racing into CU territory, bringing a groundswell of momentum to a team looking for any it could get. During the play, though, a personal foul was called on West Virginia's Doug Slavonic, moving the ball back into WVU territory and seemingly zapping whatever momentum may have resulted from the interception.

Despite a seven-point deficit heading into the locker room, there were positive signs for the Mountaineers. Hawkins's first quarter brilliance had been countered by a suddenly-aggressive West Virginia defense, and the Mountaineer offense was beginning to chew up big chunks of yardage on the ground with White and tailback Noel Devine.

"We knew what type of game it was going to be," said junior safety Quinton Andrews. "We buckled down as a defense after the two early scores."

The Mountaineers tied the game in the third quarter on White's 39-yard touchdown scamper, but missed countless opportunities to put away the Buffs. Particularly, penalties, an inability to convert short yardage plays and an inability to convert third downs ultimately doomed the Mountaineers.

West Virginia was flagged seven times for 91 yards. Of those, three were for illegal blocking. The most damning infractions were a pair of flags during a fourth quarter drive, with the Mountaineers moving into field goal range. On a second down play from CU's 38, Devine's three-yard rush was negated by an illegal chop block, backing WVU up 15 yards from the original spot. On the next play, White's four-yard scramble was wiped out by a holding penalty, pushing West Virginia out of conversion range.

As for third down conversions, the Mountaineers had trouble converting all night. West Virginia finished three of thirteen on third down.

Poor clock management in the waning moments of the fourth quarter may have cost the Mountaineers yet another chance to win the game. Prior to a third down play near midfield in the final moments (with two timeouts remaining), the Mountaineers watched as nearly 20 second ran off the game clock. Conversely, WVU was unable to get into field goal range and White's desperation hail mary attempt on regulation's final play was batted down well short of the goalline.

In overtime, the Mountaineers failed to convert a third and short inside the 10. Pat McAfee's field goal attempt caromed off the left upright.

"That's going to haunt that poor kid forever," head coach Bill Stewart said after the game. "And I hate that for Patrick (McAfee)."

All the Buffs had to do was center the ball to set up Goodman's game-winner.

"We really wanted to make it a chip-shot and make sure the ball was in the middle of the field," said third-year Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins. "That's what it's all about, coming up when the team needs you."

For West Virginia, both Devine and White finished with over 100 yards on the night. White's 148 yards moved him into third place all-time on the NCAA's quarterback rushing list. Devine had a season-high 136 yards on 26 carries.

"It's tough," said Devine, "but we have to hold our heads high and move on."

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