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September 23, 2006

West Virginia pulls away from East Carolina

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GREENVILLE, N.C. -Pat White threw for two touchdowns and ran for another and No. 4 West Virginia pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 27-10 victory over East Carolina on Saturday night.

White was 17-of-24 passing for 216 yards with touchdown passes of 3 yards to Owen Schmitt and 60 yards to Darius Reynaud. The Mountaineers (4-0) shook off some sloppy play - including White's three interceptions - to win their 11th straight game.

The Pirates held Steve Slaton, who entered as the nation's third-leading rusher, to 80 yards - less than half of his 168-yard average.

West Virginia entered as the nation's top rushing team and hoped to roll up big numbers again on an East Carolina defense that ranked among the worst in Conference USA against the run.

But coach Skip Holtz's Pirates refused to allow the Mountaineers to run wild, leaving it up to White to make the big plays.

West Virginia led just 17-10 early in the fourth quarter when White flipped a pass to Reynaud, who zigzagged 60 yards back across the field and through the Pirates' defense for the game-clinching touchdown.

Reynaud finished with five catches for 110 yards and became the first West Virginia player with more than 100 yards receiving since November 2004, when Chris Henry had 118 against Boston College.

West Virginia needed big passing numbers because East Carolina derailed the Mountaineers' ground game for the second straight year.

The Mountaineers had just 153 yards rushing - 197 fewer than its nation-leading average of 350; a year ago, East Carolina held West Virginia to just 127 yards rushing.

James Pinkney was 20-of-40 for 247 yards with a touchdown for the Pirates (1-3), and Aundrae Allison had four catches for 54 yards and a touchdown. But East Carolina couldn't get its ground game going, either - Brandon Fractious led the Pirates with 13 yards rushing, and the Pirates finished with 41 yards on the ground.

West Virginia dominated the first half, holding three-touchdown underdog East Carolina to 2 yards rushing and gaining 221 yards to the Pirates' 87, but led just 14-7 at halftime largely because of two interceptions thrown by White in the end zone.

White capped West Virginia's opening drive with a 5-yard touchdown run, then flipped his scoring pass to Schmitt early in the second quarter to snap a 7-all tie.

Pinkney found his favorite target - Allison - behind the West Virginia defense for a 47-yard touchdown pass midway through the first, tying it 7-7.

Pat McAfee had field goals of 26 and 29 yards in the second half for West Virginia.

The Pirates closed to seven points early in the fourth on Robert Lee's 27-yard field goal.

For more coverage of the West Virginia Mountaineers, visit WVUSports.com.

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