2:30 PM ET, October 7, 2006
Davis Wade Stadium, STARKVILLE, MS
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) -- West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez used to be a win-is-a-win kind of coach. No more.
Not after his Mountaineers played their sloppiest game in memory, committing 11 penalties and allowing a moribund Mississippi State offense to threaten several times in West Virginia's 42-14 win Saturday.
"I tell these guys ... as long as we win, I don't care if it's by one point, I'm going to be happy," Rodriguez said. "I lied. I'm not happy."
Steve Slaton bailed out the Mountaineers (5-0) with 185 yards and a touchdown and Pat White rushed for two scores as West Virginia pulled away late to extend the nation's second-longest winning streak to 12 games.
But the defense needed two late interceptions deep in Mountaineers territory to secure the win as West Virginia kept three drives by Mississippi State (1-5) alive with penalties. In all, the Mountaineers were flagged for 132 yards.
"I'm disappointed in the way we played football, disgusted with the penalties and not very happy right now," Rodriguez said. "I'm happy with the win (against) the SEC on the road. We had some guys who played outstanding and we had some other guys who just don't get it."
Luckily the trio of White, Slaton and fullback Owen Schmitt do. White and Schmitt scored two touchdowns apiece and Slaton constantly stung what had been considered a stout Bulldogs rush defense with nine runs of 10 yards or more.
The Mountaineers gained 406 total yards, including 314 on the ground. White added 76 rushing yards that included a game-clinching 46-yard run midway through the fourth quarter.
But Mississippi State finished with an advantage of 7:30 in time of possession, keeping that high-powered rushing game on the bench.
"The best thing that Pat has going for him is he competes," Rodriguez said. "And he competes on every snap. He was just dying on the sidelines to get the ball. All of us were."
The Mountaineers, who have won 30 of their last 34 regular-season games, moved the ball with big leaps in the first quarter. They got plays of 26 and 37 yards on their first scoring drive and 26, 15 and 14 on their second.
Schmitt capped the first with a 5-yard TD dive at 8:11, giving West Virginia a touchdown on its first drive in seven consecutive games.
White capped the Mountaineers' second drive with another 5-yard run to make it 14-0 with 14:12 remaining in the second quarter.
Mississippi State had no answer for West Virginia's blitz early in the game. But crucial penalties such as roughing the punter and roughing the passer kept the Bulldogs alive and quarterback Omarr Conner got them moving late in the first half with a pair of long passes to Tony Burks.
A 45-yarder to Burks pushed Mississippi State deep into West Virginia territory. A 40-yarder to Burks got the Bulldogs to the 2. But he fumbled into the end zone where Lance Long picked it up for the score at 1:01 to cut West Virginia's halftime lead to 14-7.
The Mountaineers opened the second half with a commitment to Slaton, who carried the ball five times and capped a 10-play scoring drive with a 10-yard touchdown that made it 21-7 with 10:22 left in the third quarter.
Conner was injured late in the third quarter and replaced by Michael Henig, the team's original starter before he broke his collarbone in the season opener. Henig directed two crisp drives but was picked off in the end zone by Eric Wicks and at the 10 by Bobby Hathaway.
"If they had never happened the game would have been 21-14 or possibly even 21-21," Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom said. "Those mistakes, especially in the red zone, are what kills us."
After the second interception, White scored his second touchdown on a slithering run that put the Mountaineers up 28-7 with 8:02 left.
The Bulldogs did manage a late score on a 1-yard dive by Anthony Dixon with 5:31 remaining in the game, but the Mountaineers answered with a long drive and Schmitt's second touchdown from 5 yards out to make it 35-14.
Ron Rivers capped the win with a 50-yard punt return for a TD with 1:07 left.
It was the eighth straight loss to a ranked team for the Bulldogs and their fourth straight home loss.
"We made it harder than it needed to be," Rodriguez said. "But I am happy with the win. Yippee."
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Pat White rushed for the first of two touchdowns less than a minute into the second quarter. White's score put the Mountaineers up 14-0 and set the pace of the game.
Gameball goes to... White, who had no need for a passing game against Mississippi State. He completed 6-of-10 passes for 92 yards, and rushed 11 times for 77 yards and two scores.
Stat of the game... 134: This was by no means a pretty game. West Virginia was dogged by penalties, giving up 134 yards on 11 penalties. WVU won't be able to get away with that against tougher competition.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||4-9||6-13|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||0-1|
|TD||8:11||OWEN SCHMITT 5 YD RUN (PAT MCAFEE KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 69 yards.
|TD||14:12||PAT WHITE 5 YD RUN (PAT MCAFEE KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 75 yards.
|TD||1:01||LANCE LONG 1 YD PASS FROM OMARR CONNER (ADAM CARLSON KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 88 yards.
|TD||10:22||STEVE SLATON 11 YD RUN (PAT MCAFEE KICK)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||8:02||PAT WHITE 46 YD RUN (PAT MCAFEE KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 61 yards.
|TD||5:31||ANTHONY DIXON 1 YD RUN (ADAM CARLSON KICK)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 65 yards.
|TD||3:02||OWEN SCHMITT 5 YD RUN (PAT MCAFEE KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 46 yards.
|TD||1:07||VAUGHN RIVERS 50 YD PUNT RETURN (PAT MCAFEE KICK)||42||14|