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
"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
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
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
"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
After the second interception, White scored his second touchdown
on a slithering run that put the Mountaineers up 28-7 with 8:02
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."