Mountaineers take charge of Big East by beating Rutgers

October 09, 2005


Freshman Steve Slaton ran for a career-high 139 yards and one touchdown as West Virginia built an early lead and beat Rutgers 27-14 Saturday.

Freshman Jason Gwaltney added 57 rushing yards but left the game late with a knee injury for West Virginia (5-1, 2-0), which won for the 11th straight time against Rutgers (3-2, 1-1) and moved into sole possession of first place in the Big East.

West Virginia rushed for 236 yards against a decimated Rutgers defense, which was without three starters after it was announced earlier in the week that linebacker Terry Bynes and defensive back Jason Nugent will undergo knee surgery. Rutgers lost end Eric Foster earlier in the season.


In a game played during a driving rainstorm, special teams and the defense either scored or set up West Virginia's first three touchdowns as the Mountaineers took a 21-0 lead.

WVU's first score came when Thandi Smith blocked Joe Radigan's punt, then scooped it up at the 1-yard line and carried it into the end zone.

Rutgers' next two possessions ended with turnovers that West Virginia converted into points.

Kevin McLee recovered a Ray Rice fumble at the 28-yard line. Five plays later Slaton scored on an 11-yard run. On Rutgers' next series, Mike Lorello intercepted backup Mike Teel. The Mountaineer offense responded with a 93-yard drive, capped by Bednarik's 21-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Myles.

Rutgers' offense finally came to life behind Teel, who came in for an ineffective Ryan Hart. Teel's passing and Brian Leonard's running paced a 14-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in Leonard's 1-yard TD run that made it 21-7 at halftime. Leonard finished with 76 yards.

WVU padded the lead on its first possession of the third quarter, getting a 45-yard field goal from Pat McAfee. Hart returned in the second half, and the Knights responded with a 1-yard TD run by Leonard to cut the deficit to 10 entering the final quarter.

With 9:16 remaining, WVU went on a 68-yard drive that consumed five and resulted in a 35-yard field goal by McAfee. Teel entered on Rutgers' next possession, which ended with a game-sealing interception by Dee McCann with 2:07 remaining. It was the first of two picks for McCann.

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