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White, Slaton held in check as West Virginia stunned by USF

Nov 25, 2006 - 8:30 PM MORGANTOWN, West Virginia (Ticker) -- Last week, Pat White and Steve Slaton ran at will against Pittsburgh. On Saturday, they could not find any holes against South Florida.

The Bulls held White and Slaton in check and received both a rushing and passing touchdown from freshman Matt Grothe as they stunned No. 7 West Virginia, 24-19, in a Big East Conference contest.

White and Slaton ran for a combined 435 yards in last week's 45-27 "Backyard Brawl" triumph over the Panthers. But they were limited to 60 on 33 carries as the Mountaineers (9-2, 4-2 Big East) saw their BCS hopes take a big hit.

"I'm disappointed in the execution," West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez said. "Everything starts with me as a head coach. We just messed around in this game. I said all year we aren't good enough to win a game if we mess around. No question this was the worst our offense has played all year."

West Virginia entered the day in a three-way tie atop the Big East with No. 15 Rutgers and No. 8 Louisville. The Scarlet Knights, who come here next week, beat Syracuse and the Cardinals - who handed the Mountaineers their other defeat - routed Pittsburgh later Saturday.

Grothe completed 22-of-30 passes to nine different receivers for 279 yards with two interceptions for South Florida (8-4, 4-3), which was concluding its regular season. His 21-yard TD pass to Ean Randolph gave the Bulls a 21-12 advantage with 3:13 left in the third quarter.

The Bulls settled for an 18-yard field goal by Delbert Alvarado with 6:38 remaining, which gave them a 24-12 advantage.

White quickly countered, tossing a 44-yard touchdown to Brandon Myles with 5:16 left, and the Mountaineers got back the ball at their 15-yard line with just over three minutes to go.

But the sophomore signal-caller was intercepted by cornerback Trae Williams off a deflected high throw with 1:54 to play, and the Bulls ran out the clock.

White was 14-of-22 for 178 yards, two TDs and two interceptions.

The Mountaineers were limited to 132 yards on 37 carries. They had been averaging better than 330 yards on the ground, second-best in the country.

Slaton was held to 43 yards on 18 carries and White - who was sacked four times - to 17 yards on 15 attempts.

After a scoreless first quarter, West Virginia twice had to settle for field goals by Pat McAfee in the first six minutes of the second quarter after driving into the red zone.

With 8:23 left in the half, Mountaineers safety Quinton Andrews intercepted Grothe at the West Virginia 7. But two plays later, Bulls linebacker Chris Robinson knocked the ball out of White's left hand and defensive end George Selvie picked it up and ran nine yards for a touchdown.

"We didn't capitalize on our opportunities today," White said. "We had some costly turnovers that led to points for them."

With just 35 seconds to play in the half, Grothe capped a 10-play, 66-yard drive with a 10-yard run to give the Bulls a surprising 14-6 advantage at the break.

The Mountaineers pulled within 14-12 on a 15-yard pass from White to Myles midway through the third quarter but White's two-point conversion pass failed.

Myles finished with six catches for 95 yards.

"We need to refocus," Rodriguez said. "We'll find out a lot about our team this week."

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