Scores

Final

Connecticut 16

(2-4, 0-1 American)

(16) West Virginia 43

(5-1, 1-0 Big 12)

Coverage: GamePlan

12:00 PM ET, October 8, 2011

Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, WV

1 2 3 4 T
CONN 3 6 0 716
#16WVU 3 7 23 1043

Top Performers

Passing: G. Smith (WVU) - 450 YDS, 4 TD

Rushing: D. Garrison (WVU) - 18 CAR, 80 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: S. Bailey (WVU) - 7 REC, 178 YDS, 2 TD

West Virginia pulls away after half to rip Connecticut

Associated Press

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Geno Smith always seems to pull West Virginia out of a rut.

Smith threw for 450 yards and four touchdowns in navigating No. 16 West Virginia through another slow start to beat Connecticut 43-16 in their Big East opener Saturday.

West Virginia (5-1, 1-0) struggled to a 10-9 halftime lead before scoring 23 points in a 7:35 span of the third quarter to take control.

The Mountaineers struggled out of the gate for the fifth time in six games, mustering little early against a Connecticut defense that gave up 479 passing yards a week ago to Western Michigan. The 10 first-half points were the fewest for West Virginia this season.

"We may have been pressing (in the first half) because we all want to make plays," Smith said. "When we try to do too much, we make uncharacteristic mistakes. But when we just go out, have fun and just play the game and do what we're coached to do, the offense is dynamic and we can strike on anyone at any time."

During a timeout early in the third quarter, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen waved his hands while lecturing his skill-position players at the back of the bench.

"That's coach Holgorsen to the max," Smith said. "That's the way he handles things. He's that kind of coach and that's what we love about him. He's a straight-forward guy."

West Virginia responded -- with a nudge from the defense.

Quarterback Johnny McEntee was driving UConn toward a go-ahead score midway through the third when he was hit on the run by cornerback Pat Miller. The ball popped loose, redshirt freshman linebacker Jewone Snow grabbed it and went 83 yards down the right sideline before being caught at the Connecticut 12.

"I just tried to score," said the 6-foot-3, 236-pound Snow. "But by the time I got to the 30, they started catching up with me."

Snow, the son of former Michigan defensive back Garland Rivers and a nephew of ex-Michigan State stars Percy Snow and Eric Snow, got his second start in place of Doug Rigg, who is out with a broken wrist.

Snow's return was the spark the Mountaineers needed. Smith, who completed 27 of 45 passes, found Tavon Austin on a post pattern in the back of the end zone two plays later for a 17-9 lead.

Connecticut (2-4, 0-1) got two first downs the rest of the game and managed 97 yards after halftime. McEntee was sacked five times -- once for a safety -- and was chased around the field all game. He finished 21 of 37 for 193 yards.

"That was a heck of a second half," Holgorsen said. "That was a dominating performance from our defense."

For West Virginia, the points kept coming.

After the Mountaineers got the ball back at their 16 on the next series, Smith hit Stedman Bailey with a pass at the West Virginia 36. Bailey sidestepped Ty-meer Brown and went the rest of the way untouched to put West Virginia ahead by double digits for good.

"That really took the wind out of our sails," Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni said.

Bruce Irvin sacked McEntee in the end zone for a safety late in the third. West Virginia got the ball back at midfield and scored in eight plays, with Brad Starks making a leaping catch over Dwayne Gratz for a 22-yard TD for a 33-9 lead.

Bailey later added a 27-yard scoring catch. He finished with seven catches for 178 yards, his fourth straight game of more than 100 receiving yards. Ivan McCartney had six catches for 131 yards.

Connecticut's only touchdown was a gift. Paul Millard relieved Smith in the fourth quarter and promptly threw an interception that Brown returned for a 48-yard score.

Heavy-underdog Connecticut was effective moving the ball early. The Huskies' held the ball for 11 minutes of the first quarter and their first four drives went into West Virginia territory.

"We focused on starting fast," Holgorsen said. "But UConn had something to do with that, too."

But Connecticut failed to find the end zone after three drives reached the West Virginia 20. Dave Teggart kicked first-half field goals of 40, 53 and 22 yards.

Connecticut's Byron Jones was called for holding on a second-quarter interception he made in the end zone. Three plays later, West Virginia freshman Dustin Garrison burst through the line for a 14-yard scoring run to put the Mountaineers ahead 10-6.

Garrison, who last week ran for 291 yards against Bowling Green, had 80 yards on 18 carries.

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Team Stat Comparison

 
CONN
WVU
1st Downs1623
Total Yards275541
Passing193469
Rushing8272
Penalties7-518-80
3rd Down Conversions4-167-15
4th Down Conversions0-00-1
Turnovers12
Possession32:3327:27

Passing Leaders

ConnecticutC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
McEntee21/371935.200
West VirginiaC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Smith27/4545010.040

Rushing Leaders

ConnecticutCARYDSAVGTDLG
McCombs20733.707
McEntee11131.2012
West VirginiaCARYDSAVGTDLG
Garrison18804.4114
Buie2115.507

Receiving Leaders

ConnecticutRECYDSAVGTDLG
Griffin55711.4016
Moore44110.3017
West VirginiaRECYDSAVGTDLG
Bailey717825.4284
McCartney613121.8051

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERCONNWVU
FG07:43Tyler Bitancurt 31 Yd 03
FG03:23Dave Teggart 40 Yd 33
SECOND QUARTERCONNWVU
FG14:53Dave Teggart 53 Yd 63
TD02:44Dustin Garrison 14 Yd Run (Tyler Bitancurt Kick) 610
FG00:00Dave Teggart 22 Yd 910
THIRD QUARTERCONNWVU
TD07:44Tavon Austin 12 Yd Pass From Geno Smith (Tyler Bitancurt Kick) 917
TD05:49Stedman Bailey 84 Yd Pass From Geno Smith (Tyler Bitancurt Kick) 924
SF02:31Johnny McEntee Tackled By Bruce Irvin In End Zone 926
TD00:09Brad Starks 22 Yd Pass From Geno Smith (Tyler Bitancurt Kick) 933
FOURTH QUARTERCONNWVU
FG10:52Tyler Bitancurt 33 Yd 936
TD08:51Stedman Bailey 27 Yd Pass From Geno Smith (Tyler Bitancurt Kick) 943
TD07:54Ty-Meer Brown 48 Yd Interception Return (Dave Teggart Kick) 1643