for this game

White, Slaton help West Virgina cruise past Mississippi State

Oct 21, 2007 - 2:37 AM MORGANTOWN, West Virginia (Ticker) -- Pat White made a healthy impression on Mississippi State while making it a happy homecoming for West Virginia.

White passed for two touchdowns and ran for another long score Saturday as ninth-ranked West Virginia crushed Mississippi State, 38-13, in an interconference contest.

It certainly was an encouraging performance by White, who suffered a thigh injury three weeks ago in a 21-13 loss to South Florida - the Mountaineers' only loss of the season. The junior played the following week in a win over Syracuse before leaving in the third quarter due to a chest injury.

But White returned with a bang in this contest, completing 8-of-12 passes for 61 yards while rushing for 89 yards on just five carries.

Fellow junior Steve Slaton rushed for 129 yards and a TD for the Mountaineers (6-1), who returned to Milan Puskar Stadium for their homecoming game following a bye week and two road games. It was West Virginia's first home contest since a 48-7 thrashing of East Carolina on September 22.

West Virginia, which rolled to a 28-point win over Mississippi State in Starkville last year, also received outstanding production from its defense, sacking Bulldogs quarterback Wesley Carroll three times and recovering three fumbles.

"We did talk about finishing the job and not giving them hope," West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez said. "I don't know how much hope we gave them."

"Their defense was faster than we were," Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom said. "Their offense is no different. They looked like how they were a year ago versus us."

But it was White, the Mountaineers' multi-talented quarterback, who put this game to bed early. The speedster tore off a 64-yard run just 21 seconds into the contest to give the Mountaineers the lead for good.

After a three-and-out by Mississippi State, White orchestrated a 12-play, 88-yard drive which he capped by tossing a 12-yard TD pass to fullback Owen Schmitt midway through the quarter.

West Virginia's defense took over when linebacker Marc Magro recovered a fumble, giving the Mountaineers the ball back on the Bulldogs' 16. Three plays later, White hit Darius Reynaud with a 10-yard TD pass to give the Mountaineers a 21-0 advantage.

Reynaud also caught a 13-yard TD from backup quarterback Jarrett Brown in the fourth quarter.

Still in the first quarter, West Virginia sacked Carroll on the Bulldogs' next possession and regained possession following a 23-yard punt. That set the stage for Slaton, who broke off a winding 26-yard run to increase the lead to 28-0.

It was Slaton's 43rd career rushing touchdown, breaking the school record he previously shared with two other players.

"Steve isn't worried about the record book," Rodriguez said. "He wanted to run hard and he did a nice job."

After linebacker Mortty Ivy recovered another fumble, the Mountaineers added a 42-yard field goal by Pat McAfee to make it 31-0.

White spent the second half in street clothes standing on the sidelines with an ice bag over his neck.

"Pat could have played in the second half, but with his previous injuries we didn't want to risk anything," Rodriguez said.

Carroll was 17-of-32 for 162 yards for the Bulldogs (4-4), who had just four first downs and 83 total yards while trailing, 31-7, at halftime.

Mississippi State has lost two straight contests and is 5-5 all-time vs. teams from the Big East Conference.

West Virginia plays Big East Conference opponent Rutgers next week. The Scarlet Knights are coming off a 30-27 victory over No. 2 South Florida on Thursday.

"We will be playing some of the most talented athletes in the country in Rutgers, and it's at their place," Rodriguez said. "I was thinking about the game as I was walking off the field, and I hope my players were too."