for this game

West Virginia beats Cincinnati, sets up Big East showdown next week

Nov 18, 2007 - 5:30 AM CINCINNATI (Ticker) -- Pat White helped keep West Virginia's national championship hopes alive while setting up a showdown next week for the Big East conference title.

White ran for 155 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 140 yards as the sixth-ranked Mountaineers held on for a 28-23 victory over No. 21 Cincinnati on Saturday.

West Virginia (9-1, 4-1 Big East) can clinch a share of the Big East title next Saturday when it plays Connecticut (9-2, 5-1) in Morgantown.

"Now we get to play for the Big East championship against UConn at our place," West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez said. "I told our guys we have to have a good week of practice, and I think we will."

Steve Slaton added 103 yards and a touchdown on the ground for the Mountaineers, who improved to 14-1-1 all-time against the Bearcats.

"(Slaton) ran the ball real well," White said. "He ran strong. That's the Steve I want to see."

White completed 13-of-19 passes with just a second-quarter interception while recording his 13th career 100-yard rushing game on 27 carries.

"It can be frustrating chasing Patrick White but you have to stay focused," Cincinnati defensive back Haruki Nakamura said. "White is a great talent. He makes plays."

Ben Mauk threw for 323 yards on 19-of-34 passing with two touchdowns for the Bearcats (8-3, 3-3), who capitalized on two late turnovers after trailing by 18 early in the fourth quarter.

"I'm proud of the way our team competed especially in the fourth quarter," Bearcats coach Brain Kelly said. "West Virginia is the bar in this league. We found out a lot about our team. We found out what it takes to be a Big East champion. We'll be fine. We have work to do, but I think we'll be able to compete nationally. I needed to see West Virginia to see where we were."

On the receiving end of most of Mauk's passes was Marcus Barnett, who had 10 catches for 210 yards and two touchdowns.

"We have a lot of good wide receivers and I haven't thrown to Marcus a lot lately," Mauk said. "I think they were concerned about our other receivers."

"With the offense we run anyone can have a night like this," Barnett said. "We just ran our offense and I happened to be open."

West Virginia scored on its first possession when fullback Owen Schmitt ran in a four-yard touchdown with 10:16 left in the first quarter.

Cincinnati answered when Mauk rolled to his right and found Barnett for a 70-yard TD to tie the game at 7-7 with 4:41 left in the opening quarter.

The Mountaineers regained the lead when White scored on a seven-yard touchdown run to give West Virginia a 14-7 lead with 6:29 left in the first half.

After a Cincinnati field goal, White scored again on a four-yard touchdown to give West Virginia a 21-10 lead right before the half.