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Bigger Tilts Await WVU After Victory

FAN-FARE

October 27, 2008
MICKEY FURFARI

MORGANTOWN - West Virginia University's second-half performance in that 34-17 come-from-behind triumph over Auburn had to be the finest in every play phase since the memorable 48-28 upset of No. 3 Oklahoma in the Jan. 2 Fiesta Bowl.

The Mountaineers were just as impressive in what had been a sputtering, low-scoring offense with a 31-straight-points breakout, as a defense which had pretty much carried the team to a 4-2 start but also reached a new peak in efficiency that cold Thursday night.

Trailing by 17-10 at halftime, WVU registered 16 of its 25 first downs, 174 of its 271 yards rushing, 85 if its 174 yards passing, and 259 of its 445 yards in total offense while scoring 24 points.

The defenders over the same span, meantime, gave up to the Tigers just five of their 16 first downs, 49 of 149 yards rushing, 35 of 111 yards passing, and 84 of their 260 yards in total offense.

And Auburn tallied nary a point after intermission.

Those certainly are significant, encouraging numbers by West Virginia for 30 minutes of action on both sides of the ball against a team that, like the Mountaineers, was ranked in the nation's Top 10 before the season started.

It obviously was a key game for both schools in their first-ever football meeting, with each sorely in need of a strong showing - and victory - heading into the second half of the 2008 campaign.

Fortunately, for WVU, the win removed some of the heat off Bill Stewart and his Mountaineer coaching staff. But, unfortunately for AU, the loss likely put more pressure on Tommy Tuberville and his coaches.

It was only the ninth time in 78 games under him that Auburn lost when leading at halftime.

West Virginia still managed only 55 offensive plays to Auburn's 66, but it averaged 7.9 yards per play while limiting the Tigers to a mere 3.9 yards per play. The Mountaineers had 10 plays of 20 yards or more and scored on six of seven possessions during one stretch.

Making this all the more impressive is the fact, in rediscovering an offense reminiscent of old times, WVU had just one three-and-out all night.

In the process, running back Noel Devine gained a career-high 207 yards rushing just 17 times. The sophomore speedster raced 30 yards to score the team's last touchdown and also caught a 13-yard pass.

Despite being intercepted twice, senior quarterback Patrick White put together his best game of the season. He passed for 174 yards on 13 completions in 21 attempts for three touchdowns and added a net 28 yards on 11 keeper plays.

Wide receiver Dorrell Jalloh also was a major contributor to the offensive heroics. He snagged four passes for 53 yards and two touchdowns.

Linebacker Anthony Leonard led the defense with 16 tackles, while strong safety Sidney Glover was next with nine.

All in all, not only the tremendous triumph but the manner in which it was achieved have to be a major confidence boost for this team. And it couldn't have been more timely.

Hopefully, the Mountaineers can pick up where they left off against Auburn and play even better on offense in next Saturday's visit to Big East rival Connecticut. The toughest stretch remains ahead of them as they try to win another conference championship.

The easiest part of the schedule clearly is behind them.

 
 

 

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