Misses and Disappointments

On a day in which both teams missed multiple chances to put the game away, West Virginia made more errors, and more critical ones, in its 19-15 loss to Pitt.

After dodging several bullets in the opening 30 minutes, WVU trailed by just 7-3 -- a minor miracle considering the way the Panthers marched up and down the field in the first two quarters. Pitt took the opening kickoff and established dominance early, marching 64 yards in five plays to take an early 7-0 lead. Somehow, Pitt managed to avoid scoring again until the fourth quarter, even while piling up 346 yards of total offense, including 183 from LeSean McCoy.

On the Panthers' second possession, they drove to the WVU nine-yard line, but a holding penalty and an easily-diagnosed end around pushed Pitt into a field goal situation. The first inside-the-40 miss of the season by placekicker Conor Lee kept Pitt from adding to its lead, but it was clear that the Panthers had established dominance.

Traded punts pushed the game into the second quarter, when WVU came up with the first big play of the game. Johnny Holmes sacked Pitt QB Bill stull and forced a fumble, which Scooter Berry recovered at the Pitt 39. West Virginia quickly moved the ball to the Pitt one, but from there, WVU's season-long bugaboo -- short yardage coversions, again reared its head. Two Patrick White plays - a run and a pass, yielded nothing, and although Patrick McAfee converted a tough-angle field goal, it was clearly a win for the Pitt defense.

The Panthers then drove the field in the aning minutes of the half, and only a horrendous throw by Stull and a pick by WVU safety Quentin Andrews kept the score at 7-3.

"I was just trying to get the ball to the back pylon, but it was a bad throw," Stull said. I left it short, and probably should have thrown it to the other side, becasue their guy read the play."

"When we walked off at halftime we felt we had shot ourselves in the foot several times," Pitt head coach Dave Wannstedt said.

WVU finally gos some offense going in the third quarter, driving 59 yards in 14 plays before stalling at the Pitt nine-yard line. West Virginia did manage to convert one fourth down and short play on the drive with a White QB sneak, but failed on three pass attempts following that, including a dead drop by Dorrell Jalloh that would have given WVU the lead.

McAfee's second field goal cut the margin to one, hnowever, and on the next drive White again displayed his magic. Scrambling for his like, he avoided Panthers all over the field on his way to a 54-yard touchdown jaunt that put WVU in front 12-7. A dropped snap by backup holder Carmen Connolly, in just his second game, kept the margin at five.

West Virginia tacked on a field goal early in the fourth quarter to take a 15-7 lead, but from there the Mountaineers could do nothing else on offense. White tossed an interception deep in his own territory to set up a Pitt touchdown that made the score 15-13, but even though the Mountaineers stopped an ill-advised Bill Stull quarterback draw on the two-point conversion, there seemed to be little gas left in WVU's tank. A holding penalty wiped out a Noel Devine first down and forced another punt, and the Panthers managed to burn all but the last 58 seconds on the clock on their way to the final touchdown of the game.

Trailing 19-15, WVU got a big kickoff return from Marc Rodgers and two pass completions to mvoe to the Pitt 27, but from there two final errors doomed the Mountaineers. First, Wes Lyons failed to get out of bounds after a nine-yard catch that burned almost all of the remaining time, and then White's last-second pass sailed out of the back of the end zone to seal the defeat.

West Virginia, now 7-4 on the season, must regroup to face South Florida next week in its home finale. WVU's loss gave Cincinnati the Big East's BCS bowl bid.


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