| 10-27-2007, 04:46 PM||
Rice sets Rutgers rushing record, but WVU coasts
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -- With Pat White running the show and Steve Slaton racing sideline to sideline, No. 7 West Virginia (No. 6 AP) had no problem beating Rutgers (No. 25 AP) yet again.
Slaton ran for three touchdowns, White rushed for 156 yards and a score and the Mountaineers kept their BCS hopes alive with a 31-3 win Saturday.
"I think it puts us right where we want to be," Slaton said after West Virginia (7-1, 2-1 Big East) beat Rutgers for the 13th straight time. "We lost one Big East game and hopefully that'll be the last one we lose."
The Mountaineers have Louisville, Cincinnati, Connecticut and Pittsburgh left on their schedule, and they should end up in a BCS game if they run the table.
Slaton went from sideline to sideline on a spectacular 38-yard run for an early lead, and he scored second-half touchdowns of 1 and 6 yards to bury Rutgers (5-3, 2-2).
White, who missed last year's wild 41-39 triple overtime win over Rutgers with an ankle injury, was even more impressive. He scored on a 1-yard run and drove defenders crazy with his elusiveness. The junior also hit 10-of-16 passes for 144 yards, highlighted by a 51-yard screen pass to Slaton to set up a touchdown.
"The first time you see Pat, you think you have angle and you don't," West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez said. "He's such an explosive player, there are a lot of times when there are people around him where he outruns the angle or makes people miss. I'm glad he's wearing blue and gold."
Rutgers thought it has closed the gap on West Virginia after last year's game, but this one was no contest.
"We played an excellent team today and we got our butts kicked," said Jeremy Ito, who kicked a 39-yard field goal in Rutgers' worst loss since a 56-5 drubbing by Louisville on Nov. 11, 2005. The 3 points were its lowest total since a 42-0 loss to Notre Dame in 2002.
What was even more disappointing was that the setback came a week after Rutgers knocked off then-No. 2 South Florida.
"If we ever want to become the program we want to become, you have to win a big game, then another big game," said Rutgers coach Greg Schiano.
A year ago, the Scarlet Knights knocked off then-No. 3 Louisville and were upset the following week by Cincinnati.
"We knew they were going to be up for it," White said. "We got up for them as well. We had to come out and play Mountaineer football for four quarters. That's something we did for the first time this year."
West Virginia intercepted a banged-up Mike Teel twice, recovered two fumbles, and kept halfback Ray Rice from breaking any big runs. Teel has a bruised throwing hand.
When Rutgers had its chances, it didn't convert in a game that was played in a heavy rain during the first half. With the Scarlet Knights trailing 17-3 in the third quarter, tackle Pedro Sosa was called for holding on a second-and-1 from the Mountaineers 14.
Instead of getting a first-and-goal, the Scarlet Knights were pushed back and Ito was wide right on a 41-yard field goal attempt.
West Virginia took over and went 75 yards. White and Slaton hooked up on the 51-yard screen on a third-and-13 from their 22. Slaton capped the drive by walking into the end zone for his 50th career TD.
Slaton gave West Virginia the lead for good with his run late in the first quarter. Taking a handoff, he found his path around the left side blocked, cut back to his right, avoided a tackle and got into the corner of the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
The next West Virginia score was set up by a fluke play in the second quarter.
Pat McAfee hit a line-drive punt from around his 40 that hit off Rutgers' Ramy Nubani, who was going back to block on the return. It was recovered by Mortty Ivy at the 31. Five plays later, White scored on a keeper.
Rutgers had a chance to get back in the game on the next possession, driving to the Mountaineers 22. But Teel's pass to Tiquan Underwood in the end zone was broken up by Ryan Mundy's hit, and Ito settled for his 70th career field goal.
McAfee got that score right back when his 42-yard field goal barely cleared the crossbar. It capped an 11-play, 60-yard drive that featured runs of 22 and 13 yards by White.
Teel finished 14-of-30 for 128 yards, while Rice carried 30 times for 142 yards.
"We got outplayed," Rice said after Rutgers lost for the third time at home and had its BCS chances ended by West Virginia for the second straight year.
Had Rutgers beaten West Virginia last December, it would have won the conference title and the BCS berth.