Oct. 20, 2007
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. -- West Virginia's Pat White wasn't going to let a sore shoulder slow him down.
Coming off injuries in back-to-back games, White threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score in the first half, leading No. 9 West Virginia to a 38-13 win over Mississippi State on Saturday.
Steve Slaton broke out of a two-game slump to rush for 127 yards and set a school record for rushing touchdowns for the Mountaineers (6-1), who scored on their first five possessions and weren't threatened.
West Virginia now enters the heart of its conference schedule with a showdown next Saturday at Rutgers.
Following an open week on the schedule and playing at home for the first time in a month, West Virginia put together its best first quarter of the season. After jumping ahead 31-0 early in the second, the Mountaineers managed just two first downs and no points on their next five possessions.
"We've got to learn to put someone away when we've got them down," said West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez.
Given multiple chances to close the gap, freshman Wesley Carroll could only temporarily rally Mississippi State (4-4), which lost to a ranked opponent for the fourth time this season.
After playing what Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom called one of its best games a week ago in a 33-21 loss to No. 20 Tennessee, the Bulldogs were limited to 12 first downs and 214 total yards against the Mountaineers.
"I know they have tremendous speed and at times, we couldn't match their speed," Croom said. "You can't let that team get that big a lead on you. We just dug ourselves too big of a hole."
White's playing status was in question after there were indications earlier in the week he wasn't recovered from a hit to his non-throwing (right) shoulder two weeks ago at Syracuse. He played in that game despite a bruised thigh from a loss to South Florida the week before.
White started against Mississippi State and the Bulldogs could barely touch him early.
On the first play from scrimmage, he faked a handoff to Slaton, darted up the middle and went 64 yards untouched for a touchdown, his longest run of the season and tied for the fourth longest of his career.
Scoring passes of 12 yards to Owen Schmitt and 10 yards to Darius Reynaud capped the next two possessions.
White sat out the second half, but Rodriguez said he could have kept playing. White finished with 89 rushing yards and completed 8 of 12 passes for 61 yards.
"We don't have anybody like Patrick White," Croom said. "We don't have one guy, a guy, the guy that can change the game by himself."
Slaton, who was fourth in last year's Heisman Trophy balloting, rebounded from a poor two-game stretch in which he was held under 70 yards. He scored his 43rd career rushing TD late in the first quarter, breaking the school record shared by Avon Cobourne and Ira Errett Rodgers.
"My numbers are not the same, but we are still winning," said Slaton, adding that the record was "very special."
"It has been there for a while, and hopefully mine can be here for a while," he said.
After Slaton scored from 26 yards out, his first touchdown in three games, Carroll fumbled the snap and West Virginia's Mortty Ivy took the fumble 45 yards for an apparent touchdown. But the Mountaineers were penalized for a block in the back and had to settle for Pat McAfee's 42-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter and a 31-0 lead.
West Virginia didn't score again until Jarrett Brown hit Reynaud with a 13-yard TD toss early in the fourth.
"We did talk (at halftime) about finishing the job and not giving a team hope," Rodriguez said. "I don't know how much hope we gave them. That's why I was pleased with Jarrett getting that one touchdown. That kind of quelches all your hope."
The Associated Press News Service
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