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WVU rallies to beat Rutgers

Oct 30, 2011 - 1:00 AM Piscataway, NJ (Sports Network) - Geno Smith threw for 218 yards and two touchdowns and ran for the eventual game-winning touchdown with just over six minutes remaining, as No. 25 West Virginia topped Rutgers, 41-31, at a snowy High Point Solutions Stadium.

Trailing 31-28, the Mountaineers grabbed the lead and didn't look back. Smith led an 11-play, 89-yard drive all the way down to the Rutgers one, where the Mountaineers faced a 4th-and-goal and elected to go for it rather than kicking the field goal. Smith kept the ball, sprinted toward the right corner of the end zone and dove across the goal line to give his team a 34-31 lead.

Shawne Alston had a big day on the ground, rushing 14 times for 111 yards and two touchdowns, while Tavon Austin caught eight passes for 67 yards and a score. He also rushed for 96 yards and a score for the Mountaineers (6-2, 2-1 Big East).

Gary Nova threw for 235 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for Rutgers (5-3, 2-2), which hasn't beaten West Virginia since September 1994.

Jawan Jamison rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns, while Mohamed Sanu and Mark Harrison caught touchdown passes for the Scarlet Knights.

Following the go-ahead score, Rutgers had a chance to tie or take the lead with their next possession, but Nova was sacked on second down and lost the football. It was recovered by West Virginia at the 37.

West Virginia capitalized on its opportunity to seal the victory. On 2nd- and-9, Smith swung a pass out to Austin in the flat and the running back did the rest, sprinting 20 yards to paydirt to account for the final score.

Rutgers drew first blood midway through the opening quarter when the Scarlet Knights forced a three-and-out and the offense took over with great field position at the West Virginia 28.

Rutgers moved the ball down to the 23 and San San Te capped the short four- play drive with a 40-yard field goal, giving his team a 3-0 lead.

The Mountaineers took the lead on their ensuing drive. Dustin Garrison ran for seven yards on first down and caught a 15-yard pass on the next play to put the ball on the 48. From there, Alston broke a 52-yard touchdown sprint to finish off the three-play, 74-yard drive and make it 7-3.

With just under five minutes to go in the first quarter, Rutgers took the lead back thanks to a spectacular defensive play. Following a sack of Smith for a 14-yard loss, Manny Abreu recovered a fumble on the 11-yard line. Nova connected with Sanu for a 14-yard strike and a 10-7 lead.

West Virginia responded through, as Austin rumbled 80 yards on the first play of the Mountaineers next drive to make it 14-10.

But Rutgers came back with another big play on its next possession as Nova hooked up with Harrison on a 45-yard touchdown pass to make it 17-14.

Early in the second quarter, West Virginia capitalized on some great field position after recovering a fumble at the Rutgers seven-yard line. From there, Alston punched the ball into the end zone for a two-yard touchdown run, making it 21-17.

But again the Scarlet Knights fought back to take the lead with an impressive nine-play, 63-yard drive capped by a one-yard touchdown push by Jamison, giving his team a 24-21 advantage.

Midway through the second quarter Rutgers expanded its lead to 31-21 when Nova led his team on an 11-play, 74 yard drive. Faced with a 4th-and-1, the Scarlet Knights elected to go for it, handing the ball to Jamison, who scampered 18 yards to paydirt.

With just over seven minutes to go in the third quarter, West Virginia got within three when Smith concluded a seven-play, 46-yard drive by finding Stedman Bailey in the corner of the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown pass to make it 31-28.

Game Notes

West Virginia leads the all-time series, 35-4-2 and has won the last 17 meetings between the teams...Rutgers hasn't beaten West Virginia since September 10, 1994, when they prevailed by a 17-12 score...Former Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand, who had his football career ended due to a neck injury, led the team out to the 50-yard line prior to the game...The Scarlet Knights had their four game winning streak stopped.