Marshall outplayed his longtime rival in the Backyard Brawl for
the second straight season, throwing two touchdown passes and
running for another score to lead West Virginia to a convincing
52-31 victory over No. 16 Pittsburgh on Saturday night.
Quincy Wilson became the latest running back to put up big
numbers against the Panthers' leaky defense, rolling for 208 yards
and four touchdowns to help the Mountaineers to their fifth
straight victory and create a three-way tie atop the Big East
Wilson, Notre Dame's Julius Jones and Virginia Tech's Kevin
Jones have rushed for more than 200 yards against Pitt in the last
Pittsburgh (7-3, 4-1), No. 14 Miami (8-2, 4-1) and West Virginia
(6-4, 4-1) are even in the Big East, though the conference is
Miami's to win if it finishes by beating Rutgers and Pittsburgh.
Even if West Virginia beats Syracuse and Temple, Miami would be
higher rated in the BCS rankings. The Hurricanes also beat the
Mountaineers in head-to-head play.
Rutherford, whose Pittsburgh high school team beat Marshall's
three straight years, got off to a big start, throwing touchdown
passes to star Larry Fitzgerald of 23 and 45 yards on Pitt's first
two drives. Pitt led 14-10 and 24-17 before West Virginia drove 82
yards to tie it at 24 on Marshall's 28-yard pass to John Pennington
in the final minute of the first half.
But Rutherford, forced to throw on every key down in the second
half because West Virginia shut down Pitt's dismal-as-usual running
game, was intercepted three times in the second half -- half as many
interceptions as he threw in his first nine games. Pitt's leading
rusher was Lousaka Polite, with five carries for 9 yards. West
Virginia outrushed Pitt 307-10 while holding a 523-429 edge in
Rutherford finished with four touchdown passes, two to Kris
Wilson, but still played possibly the worst half of his career.
After hitting Fitzgerald on two passes for 50 yards to drive
Pitt to the West Virginia 8 to start the second half, the momentum
changed dramatically when Rutherford threw an ill-advised pass into
heavy coverage in the rear of the end zone, with linebacker Grant
Wiley making the interception.
The Mountaineers, who lead the Big East with 18 interceptions,
didn't score off that turnover, but did off the next two.
Rutherford was intercepted again, by Lawrence Audena, on Pitt's
next possession, leading to Marshall's go-ahead 12-yard scoring run
five plays later.
After Pitt again went nowhere on offense, Lance Frazier's
72-yard punt return to the Panthers 3 set up Wilson's 1-yard
touchdown run that made it 38-24, and the rout was on.
Wilson, who grew up only a half-hour from Pittsburgh in Weirton,
W.Va., added touchdown runs of 1 and 36 yards as the Mountaineers
outscored Pitt 28-7 in the second half. Pittsburgh has allowed
1,582 yards rushing in its last seven games but has rushed for only
1,101 all season.
Fitzgerald finished with 185 yards on nine catches.
It was the third time in the last six years West Virginia has
rolled up 52 points against Pitt in one of the East's oldest major
college rivalries, one that has spanned 96 games since 1895. West
Virginia won 52-14 in 1998 and 52-21 in 1999, both with Marc Bulger