ECU can’t contain Mountaineers’ Heisman hopefulls

Published 2:27 am Sunday, September 23, 2007

By By JOHN RABY, AP Sports Writer
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s Pat White wasn’t about to have two bad games in a row.
The junior quarterback threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more and No. 5 West Virginia rolled up 599 total yards in overpowering East Carolina 48-7 on Saturday.
In a tuneup for next Friday’s showdown at No. 23 South Florida, West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez called it the ‘‘best overall performance we’ve had in several years.’’
Steve Slaton rushed for 110 yards and a score to match a school record for career touchdowns, and the Mountaineers (4-0) handed the Pirates (1-3) their most lopsided loss under third-year coach Skip Holtz.
West Virginia’s defense didn’t allow a score until the final two minutes, limiting the Pirates to nine first downs and 160 total yards.
Much of Rodriguez’s praise went to White, who was limited to 26 rushing yards, fumbled three times and threw for only 95 yards a week ago in a 31-14 win at Maryland.
White had one of his best passing games Saturday. He went 18-of-20 for 181 yards and ran for 42 more in three quarters.
White said he simply was executing a game plan like he should be doing every week. He threw to eight different receivers, and five Mountaineers had at least 40 yards rushing.
West Virginia scored seven of the first eight times it had the ball in beating East Carolina for the seventh straight time. The team’s last two meetings weren’t decided until the fourth quarter, but this one wasn’t close.
East Carolina entered the game allowing 86 yards rushing per game and had been the only team to hold West Virginia under 200 yards rushing in each of the past two seasons.
Not this time. The Pirates couldn’t bottle up White or Slaton and their supporting cast. West Virginia had 206 rushing yards by halftime and 397 for the game.
West Virginia led 27-0 at halftime. The early onslaught would have been greater, but two drives stalled inside the ECU 20 and the Mountaineers settled for field goals.
Darius Reynaud, who didn’t start at wide receiver due to a sore shoulder, caught both of White’s TD tosses and set up another score with a 64-yard reverse in the first quarter.
Slaton followed Reynaud’s long run with a 1-yard score for his 42nd career rushing TD, tying a school record shared by Ira Rodgers and Avon Cobourne.
East Carolina’s Patrick Pinkney completed 7-of-14 passes for 43 yards and an interception before being replaced by Rob Kass, who saw his first action this season after being suspended for the opening loss to Virginia Tech.
East Carolina went three-and-out on five of its first six drives and its 29 yards of first-half offense were the lowest under Holtz. The Pirates’ longest gain on offense the entire game was a 15-yard facemask penalty.