EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez
was more concerned about the 89 yards in penalties than the
300-plus yards of rushing offense piled up by his Mountaineers (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today, No. 17 AP).
"That's the first thing I told the team after the game,"
Rodriguez said. "We preached it and some of them just killed
offensive drives. One took away a touchdown."
But Rasheed Marshall made up for most of the mistakes Wednesday
night as 17th-ranked West Virginia racked up racked up 309 yards of
rushing offense in a 31-19 win over Connecticut.
A first-half penalty nullified a 51-yard TD run by Adam Jones on
a reverse and the Mountaineers had to settle for a 10-6 lead at the
But Marshall, a senior quarterback, helped West Virginia
overcome its mistakes, rushing for 110 yards, throwing for a
touchdown and even punting a quick kick.
He sensed he could have a big night on the ground against the
"I thought I would have a chance, especially how tight their
linebackers play to the line of scrimmage," Marshall said. "I
thought if I could get outside a lot on them I could put them in
for a long day."
One more day like that and Marshall will rewrite the Big East
record book. His 1,518 yards rushing is 44 yards shy of the career
quarterback mark held by Syracuse's Donovan McNabb.
"He was very sharp today mentally," said Rich Rodriguez, who
thought his quarterback could have racked up even more yards if he
stayed inbounds more.
"I had to remind him three times during the game. I said, 'Make
them catch you."'
His 34-yard quick-kick punt proved to be a big one. West
Virginia held a 10-6 lead late in the third quarter when Marshall's
punt pinned UConn down on its own 2-yard line.
Two plays later West Virginia safety Mike Lorello intercepted a
pass that bounced off the foot of UConn receiver Keron Henry and
ran it in 21 yards for 17-6 lead and the Mountaineers (5-1, 1-0)
had control the rest of the way.
"We got a lucky break there," Rodriguez said. "We were kind
of in a rut and that sparked us a little bit."
On the next possession, Marshall hit Chris Henry for a 49-yard
TD pass to extend the lead to 18 and send most of the 40,000 fans
streaming for the exits.
Marshall repeatedly rescued an offense that sputtered for almost
three quarters. With leading rusher Kay-Jay Harris sidelined with
injuries, Marshall and Jayson Colson kept the Mountaineers' ground
game going, racking up 309 yards. Colson finished with 111 yards
and one TD.
Lorello intercepted UConn quarterback Dan Orlovsky again midway
through the fourth quarter, killing another drive.
"It wasn't like their defense confused us that much," Orlovsky
said. "I missed some reads, we had some big drops tonight and that
hurt us as far as momentum."
The Huskies (4-2, 1-2), who were second in the league in scoring
(30.6) behind West Virginia (35.6), were held without a touchdown
until the fourth quarter, but made it interesting in the closing
minutes. Orlovsky hit Henry for a 17-yard score with under seven
minutes remaining. After Mountaineers running back Pernell Williams
tacked on a 13-yard TD run, Orlovsky found Matt Cutaia for a 2-yard
strike with 2:18 left in the game.
They were the few bright spots for UConn, which joined the Big
East this season, three years after becoming a Division I-A
"When you play in these situations you hope that you play your
best game then because then you see exactly were you stand," UConn
coach Randy Edsall said. "But I think I know where we stand. Their
speed and athleticism did some things where we weren't able to make
Marshall was 12-of-21 for 138 yards and was picked off once. He
became the first West Virginia quarterback to both rush and throw
for more than 100 yards since Major Harris in 1987.
Orlovsky was 24-of-47 for 268 yards and threw for two scores but
was intercepted three times.
UConn has not beaten a ranked team in four tries.
"I know it's part of the learning process but there's a time
when it's got to come eventually and we've got the team to do it,"
said UConn linebacker Alfred Fincher, who led the team with 21
tackles. "So we just need to do it. All of us."