Tailback Noel Devine set a new career-high with 188 yards rushing. West Virginia needed every last bit of it to hold off conference bottom feeder Syracuse on Saturday in front of a frustrated homecoming crowd of 58,133.
Devine's 92-yard touchdown run with 4:16 to play in regulation broke the tension, bumping West Virginia's lead to 17-6 and all but ending any hopes of Syracuse notching its first win over the Mountaineers since the 2001 season.
Devine topped the 100-yard plateau for the third time this season, and the sixth time in his career. The 92-yard run was the longest offensive play at Milan Puskar Stadium since Travis Garvin's 93-yard touchdown reception from Rasheed Marshall in a 28-7 win over Virginia Tech in 2003.
The run was the second longest in Mountaineer Field history behind Pat Randolph's 96-yard touchdown jaunt against Northern Illinois in 1986.
Defensively, spur safety Nate Sowers played well in a reserve role, seeing plenty of second-half snaps in place of starter Sidney Glover. Sowers picked off a Cameron Dantley pass attempt that could have potentially fueled a go-ahead scoring drive for the Orange.
The interception was the first of Sowers's collegiate career. The former Kennedy Award winner from Martinsburg was a two-way standout for the Bulldogs in his prep career, playing both quarterback and safety.
West Virginia pushed its lead to 10-6 on the ensuing possession courtesy of McAfee's record-breaking field goal.
Afterward, Devine was quick to credit his lead blocker.
"Will Johnson was throwing the block," Devine said. "Once he had the block, I saw the seam and just busted it up there."