West Virginia looks to set QB loose against Hokies

Updated: October 22, 2003, 11:51 PM ET

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Police used pepper spray on fans who tried to tear down the goal posts after West Virginia's 28-7 win over No. 3 Virginia Tech on Wednesday night.

Many in the crowd of 56,319 stormed the field after the Mountaineers' first victory over a team ranked as high as the Hokies.

But State Police and dozens of yellow-shirted security personnel surrounded the goal posts and kept fans at bay.

Outside the stadium, thousands of WVU fans were partying immediately following the game. But most appeared to be heeding pre-game pleas from coach Rich Rodriguez and local officials to avoid starting bonfires, which has become something of a Morgantown tradition.

In the first hour after the game, city fire officials reported three small fires, all of which were quickly put out. A light rain began falling about 45 minutes after the game, also dampening the hopes of potential fire starters.

Fire and police officials had spent two days before the game removing garbage and couches from citizens' front porches, especially in the Sunnyside neighborhood heavily populated by students.

Police inside the stadium tried to disperse rowdy fans with pepper spray, which also blew into the stands and caused discomfort to bystanders.

Brad Anderson of Chester said he was hit by the pepper spray when he ran down onto the field.

"We can't breathe. We're hacking up our lungs, but it was worth it," Anderson said. "It was a hell of a win."

Fans retaliated by throwing debris at the workers. Some fans tried to use the sideline benches in an attempt to get to the goal posts before another round of pepper spray sent fans running.

It wasn't immediately known whether anyone was arrested or seriously hurt.

"I got pushed down and got pepper sprayed," said student Josh Harper, coughing and rubbing his eyes in the south end zone. "I got pushed to the ground by the crowd."

Thirty minutes after the game ended, Rodriguez got on the public address system to tell fans to clear the field and go home. The field was then quickly cleared.

At a press conference shortly after, Rodriguez said, "Hopefully they'll all go to bed early and go to class tomorrow."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index