for this game

West Virginia pounds Rutgers behind Slaton, White

Oct 27, 2007 - 9:59 PM PISCATAWAY, New Jersey (Ticker) -- For the second straight season, West Virginia likely ended Rutgers' Big East Conference title hopes.

Steve Slaton rushed for three touchdowns in a driving rainstorm as the sixth-ranked Mountaineers defeated the 25th-ranked Scarlet Knights, 31-3, on Saturday.

Last year, West Virginia put a dent in Rutgers' best season in the school's 138-history with a 41-39 triple-overtime victory in Morgantown. A year later, the Mountaineers prevailed in much less dramatic fashion.

The speed of Slaton and quarterback Pat White proved too much for Rutgers to handle, as the Mountaineers (7-1, 2-1 Big East) posted their 13th straight victory over the Scarlet Knights dating to 1994.

"I'm finally playing the way I want to play, not holding anything back," Slaton said. "The last couple games I was missing reads or not making the right reads, not hitting the holes like I used to."

Slaton's slashing 38-yard touchdown run gave West Virginia a 7-0 lead with 4:33 remaining in the first quarter.

After the Mountaineers took a 17-3 lead on Pat McAfee's 42-yard field goal as time expired in the first half, Slaton's 51-yard gain on a harmless looking screen pass set up his 1-yard TD plunge with 3:54 left in the third period.

The second score gave Slaton 50 career touchdowns - most among active players - and staked West Virginia to a 24-3 cushion.

"Our offense did some good things and I think our defense played well the whole game," West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez said.

Slaton, who finished with 73 yards on 16 carries, added his third TD on a 6-yard run with 8:12 remaining in the contest.

White, who did not play in last season's game due to a sprained ankle, accounted for 300 yards of total offense in the sloppy conditions. The southpaw completed 10-of-16 passes for 144 yards and rushed for 156 yards on 22 attempts.

"It was a great all-around performance offensively, defensively and special teams," White said. "Everybody executed and did their job, which was a good thing for us."

Rutgers (5-3, 2-2) was facing consecutive top-10 opponents for the first time. But the Scarlet Knights came out flat following last Thursday's emotional 30-27 victory over then-No. 2 South Florida.

"If we want to be an elite program, we have to win a big game and then go out and win another big game," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. "That's championship programs do."

West Virginia took advantage of a huge break to increase its lead to 14-0. A snap over the head of White left the Mountaineers with a 4th-and-30 at the their 45.

However, the ensuing punt hit the back of a Rutgers player, and Mortty Ivy recovered for West Virginia at the Scarlet Knights' 31-yard line.

The Mountaineers cashed the turnover into White's 1-yard TD run with nine minutes left in the half, and Rutgers never recovered.

"The offense did a great job of blocking up front and there was real good blocking downfield by the receivers," White said. "We made plays. The ball was in the playmakers' hands."

Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel, still bothered by a thumb injury, completed only 14-of-30 passes for 128 yards, though he was victimized by six drops.

"We did not tackle the way we should and we did not catch the football," Schiano added. "We dropped three touchdown passes."

The Scarlet Knights got on the board on Jeremy Ito's 39-yard field goal with 4:39 left in the first half, but the Mountaineers answered with an 11-play, 60-yard drive that consumed the rest of the period.

On its first possession of the second half, Rutgers put together a 14-play, 56-yard march that took six minutes.

The Scarlet Knights came away empty, however, as Ito missed a 41-yard field goal.

Ray Rice rushed for 142 yards on 30 carries for Rutgers, setting a school record with his 20th career 100-yard game.

"Our defensive staff had a very nice plan and were obviously concerned with Rice and he got his yards," Rodriguez said.

It was not enough to prevent the Scarlet Knights from suffering their worst defeat since a 56-5 loss to Louisville on November 11, 2005.