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White, Slaton power West Virginia's romp

Sep 2, 2007 - 1:31 AM MORGANTOWN, West Virginia (Ticker) -- Western Michigan knew what was coming but was powerless to stop it.

Heisman Trophy hopefuls Pat White and Steve Slaton had a hand in the first seven touchdowns to power third-ranked West Virginia to a 62-24 rout of Western Michigan on Saturday afternoon.

As sophomores, Slaton and White paced the Mountaineers to the nation's second-ranked rushing game, combining for 235 yards a game. The juniors picked right up where they left off against the Broncos, who opened against a ranked opponent for the fifth time in program history.

White threw two touchdown passes - one to Slaton - and ran for a pair of bursts of 38 and 22 yards. Slaton ran for three scores and hauled in a 50-yard scoring pass from White as West Virginia (1-0) improved to 36-6 in its last 42 regular-season games.

After being held to 20 yards on nine carries in the opening half, Slaton finished with 109 on 16 carries, registering his 16th 100-yard effort as West Virginia put up its second-highest point total under seventh-year coach Rich Rodriguez.

"They were playing cover zero in the first half, bringing everybody up to the line," Rodriguez said. "We get a little stubborn sometimes and we actually probably should have thrown more passes early. We managed some screens and some swing passes and got loose a little bit."

White completed 10-of-18 for 192 yards and two TDs and rushed for 97 yards on nine carries. He threw first-quarter touchdown passes of 19 yards to Dorrell Jalloh and 50 to Slaton for a 14-6 lead.

In his last eight games, White has 16 rushing TDs.

West Virginia extended the margin to 28-6 on a 38-yard scoring run by White and a one-yard TD plunge by Slaton, but the Broncos seemed to take some momentum into the locker room by scoring with 17 seconds left in the half.

Quarterback Tim Hiller capped a 14-play, 74-yard drive with a two-yard run and passed to Branden Ledbetter for the conversion, cutting the deficit to 28-14.

The momentum was short-lived, as Slaton burst up the middle for a 58-yard run to make it 35-14. That gave Slaton 36 rushing TD in his last 21 games.

After Jeff Reed picked off Hiller for his second interception of the game, White swept around the left side for 22 yards two plays later to push the lead to 42-14 with 8:39 left in the third.

Hiller finished 16-of-25 for 160 yards and two interceptions, but was replaced after the second interception by Thomas Peregrin, who wound up 9-for-17 for 71 yards and one TD.

Backup running backs Jarrett Brown and true freshman Noel Devine tacked on fourth-quarter touchdowns. The highly touted Devine rushed for 44 yards on seven carries.

"It was nice to get those guys their first taste of college football," Rodriguez said. "They were wide-eyed but they were really excited, and I think it really meant a lot to them that most of the crowd stayed until the end."

Wide receiver Jamarko Simmons was one of the bright spots for Western Michigan (0-1), hauling in 14 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns.