for this game

Pitt stuns West Virginia, opens door for Ohio State

Dec 2, 2007 - 6:43 AM MORGANTOWN, West Virginia (Ticker) -- Pittsburgh did the unthinkable Saturday and won the "Backyard Brawl" against West Virginia. The Panthers also gave Ohio State more than a fighting chance at earning a berth in the BCS title game.

The Panthers played stingy defense and recorded one of the more shocking upsets in what has been a wild season, a 13-9 victory over the second-ranked Mountaineers.

The last time Pitt (5-7, 3-5 Big East) had a win this big, Dan Marino was the Panthers' quarterback in a victory over Georgia in the 1982 Sugar Bowl.

Nearly 26 years later, Pitt dealt the Mountaineers a loss that will keep them out of the national championship game.

Ranked second in the BCS standings entering the contest, West Virginia now likely will have to settle for a berth in the Orange Bowl as the champion of the Big East Conference.

"We picked a bad time to play our worst game offensively in years," West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez said. "This one hurts."

The Mountaineers' devastating loss conversely opens the door for third-ranked Ohio State, which has not played since beating rival Michigan on November 17.

Things started badly for West Virginia (11-2, 6-2) as Pat McAfee missed two field goals in the first quarter from inside 35 yards. The Mountaineers took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter on a six-yard TD run by Jarrett Brown, but the wheels were already in motion for the upset.

West Virginia's Heisman Trophy candidate, quarterback Pat White, left the game due to an injured right thumb with 5:12 to play in the second quarter. The southpaw returned with 6:08 to play but was unable to rally the Mountaineers.

With White ailing, the Pitt defense played its best game of the season. The Panthers limited the Mountaineers to 186 total yards, including just 107 on the ground.

"I thought our defense played phenomenal," Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "The players and coaches did a phenomenal job. The coaches did a great job preparing and the players believed they could win."

Conor Lee kicked two field goals for Pitt, and Pat Bostick ran for a one-yard TD in the third quarter for the Panthers.

After holding West Virginia and taking over on its 14 with 2:11 to play, Pitt was able to run out the clock. Punter Dave Brytus ran out of the end zone for a safety on the final play of the game as time expired.

White and Steve Slaton combined to rush for 435 yards in a win last season at Heinz Field. This year, White finished with 41 yards on 14 carries and Slaton had nine carries for just 11 yards.

"It was just a nightmare. We had the opening kickoff in the third quarter and we fumble the ball. We have the ball for four plays in the third quarter," Rodriguez said.

Pitt freshman LeSean McCoy ran for 148 rushing yards on 38 carries. A dubious holding call on Oderick Turner erased a McCoy touchdown run that would have put the Panthers ahead by 10 early in the fourth quarter. Another shaky holding call on Turner wiped out a first-down McCoy run that would have enable Pitt to run more time off the clock later in the game.

But the Mountaineers were not able to take advantage of the second and third chances and are left to lament what might have been.

"This is tough on everybody in this program - we've worked awful hard," Rodriguez said. "I'm shocked that we didn't perform better and it starts with me."

Despite missing out on a shot at the national title, West Virginia will be the Big East's representative in a BCS bowl and learn it destination on Sunday.

"It's going to be a long month but we'll bounce back," Rodriguez said. "I didn't sleep all week and I'm not going to sleep well for a couple of days after this one."