Rutgers' BCS dream dies in triple OTDec 3, 2006 - 4:56 AM MORGANTOWN, West Virginia (Ticker) -- Rutgers' hopes of a BCS bowl berth slipped through Ray Rice's fingers.
Seconds after scoring in triple overtime, Rice could not hold on to Mike Teel's two-point conversion pass as the 15th-ranked Scarlet Knights lost a 41-39 heartbreaker to 13th-ranked Big East Conference rival West Virginia.
With a victory, Rutgers (10-2, 5-2 Big East) would have tied No. 6 Louisville for the conference title but won the league's automatic BCS bowl bid by virtue of a 28-25 win over the Cardinals on November 9. Instead, the Scarlet Knights - who never have won the Big East - slipped into a second-place tie with the Mountaineers (10-2, 5-2).
"There's a lot of hurt in there - a lot of sad young men," said Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, whose team likely will go to the Texas Bowl. "But they're resilient guys; they're going to bounce back."
With the game knotted at 33-33, West Virginia quarterback Jarrett Brown - starting for the injured Pat White - began triple overtime by throwing a 22-yard touchdown to Brandon Myles. Brown hit Dorrell Jalloh in the end zone on the mandatory two-point conversion for a 41-33 lead.
A Heisman Trophy candidate who finished with 129 yards and two TDs, Rice scored on a one-yard run to pull Rutgers within 41-39, but he could not corral the scrambling Teel's throw across the middle, with cornerback Vaughn Rivers appearing to get a hand on the ball.
"What a ballgame," said Mountaineer coach Rich Rodriguez, whose team has produced back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time in school history. "I'm very proud of our guys. No one panicked tonight."
Rutgers has lost 12 straight meetings with West Virginia and is 0-15 all-time in Morgantown.
West Virginia got the ball first in overtime and failed to pick up a yard, but Pat McAfee nailed a 42-yard field goal to give the hosts a 26-23 lead. Rutgers gained five yards on three plays before Jeremy Ito split the uprights on a 37-yard attempt.
The Scarlet Knights started with the ball in double overtime and took a 33-26 lead on a one-yard plunge by fullback Brian Leonard. But after Myles picked up 19 yards on a reception, Steve Slaton tied the game on a one-yard run of his own.
The game was tied, 20-20, with eight minutes to play when Brown was intercepted by Devraun Thompson at the Rutgers 18 and the linebacker returned it 28 yards.
The Scarlet Knights drove to the West Virginia 14, but on 3rd-and-7, James Townsend dropped a sure touchdown pass by Teel and the visitors had to settle for Ito's 31-yard field goal with 3:55 to go.
McAfee tied the game with a 30-yard field goal with 53 seconds left. The kick came after Brown was stuffed for a two-yard loss by defensive tackle Ramel Meekins on 3rd-and-1 from the 11.
Rutgers drove to the West Virginia 35, but after calling a timeout with 15 seconds left, Teel's 3rd-and-5 pass to Kenny Britt across the middle fell incomplete. Ito was well short on a 52-yard kick on fourth down, and the game went into overtime.
Teel completed 16-of-29 passes for a career-high 278 yards and a touchdown. Brown was 14-of-29 for 244 yards, a TD and an interception filling in for White (ankle).
"We have every confidence in Jarrett Brown," Rodriguez said. "He did a great job of using the opportunity he was given. His one bad throw (interception) was a bad call by me."
West Virginia took a 13-10 lead on a one-yard run by Slaton with 10:56 to go in the third quarter, then extended its advantage to 10 points on a 40-yard TD scamper by Brown about 5 1/2 minutes later.
Rutgers answered on the next play as Teel found a streaking Tim Brown for a 72-yard touchdown, pulling the visitors within 20-17. The Scarlet Knights tied the game on Ito's 21-yard field goal with 9:51 remaining.
"They have nothing to be ashamed of," Schiano said. "They played their hearts out."
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