WVU vs. Rutgers Game Recap - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU vs. Rutgers Game Recap

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Nick Arthur, Morgantown -

No. 25 West Virginia overcame inclement weather and a second-half deficit to defeat Rutgers 41-31 Saturday evening.

"I was proud of how we went out and on all three sides of the ball," said West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen. "We played harder than they did. Not to take anything away from Rutgers, because their effort was tremendous and we knew it was going to be tremendous."

Heavy snow before and during the game led to slippery field conditions. But, the weather didn't seem to affect either offense.

Although, Dana Holgorsen admits the weather made things difficult.

 "That was a challenging situation. Rutgers wanted to win this game," he said. "You could see it in the pregame (that) the coaches were motivated and the players were playing hard."

Rutgers was able to get on the scoreboard first. Rutgers kicker San San Te made a 40-yard field goal to give the Scarlet Knights an early 3-0 lead.

West Virginia's third drive of the game resulted in its first touchdown. Running back Shawne Alston ran 52 yards for a touchdown on his first carry of the game. The touchdown gave the Mountaineers their first lead of the game, 7-3.

After a fumble by West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, the Scarlet Knights began their next drive at the West Virginia 12-yard line. The good field position was very beneficial for the home team. Quarterback Gary Nova found wide receiver Mohamed Sanu for a 14-yard touchdown reception. Rutgers regained the lead, 10-7.

However, West Virginia responded quickly. The Mountaineers ran a reverse to wide receiver Tavon Austin for an 80-yard touchdown run, giving West Virginia a 14-10 advantage. It was the longest rush by a Mountaineer this season. The run was the only play on a drive that lasted 13 seconds.

A 45-yard touchdown reception by Rutgers' wide receiver Mark Harrison gave the Scarlet Knights a 17-14 lead to end an eventful first quarter of play.

A costly fumble by Rutgers deep in its own territory led to another West Virginia touchdown. Shawne Alston scored on a 2-yard run – his second of the game. The Mountaineers led 21-17.

Alston had only three rushing touchdowns coming into today's game.

"I always have confidence in myself, but this gives me an extra boost of confidence now," Alston said.

West Virginia cornerback Pat Miller was called for two pass interference penalties midway through the second quarter. The 30 yards in penalties led to another Rutgers touchdown. This one a 1-yard rush by Jawan Jamison.

Rutgers added another Jamison touchdown just before halftime to take a 31-21 lead into the locker room.  

Following punts by both teams to start the second half, West Virginia was able to shrink Rutgers' lead. Geno Smith found wide receiver Stedman Bailey for a 19-yard touchdown reception. West Virginia trailed 31-28. The catch was Bailey's first of the game.

Both offenses struggled to move the ball for most of the third quarter.

Rutgers was in great position to add a field goal, but West Virginia wasn't fooled on a fake. Darwin Cook broke up the pass attempt and the Mountaineers' offense took the field down 31-28.

West Virginia drove to the Rutgers' 1-yard line and was faced with a fourth-and-goal. The Mountaineers choose not to kick a field goal, and Geno Smith rushed for a 1-yard touchdown. West Virginia led 34-31.

Smith had to scramble out of the pocket and dive into the endzone.

"It was a play that we had run previously," Smith said. "It had been working for us."

Rutgers fumbled on its ensuing possession and West Virginia took advantage. Geno Smith hit Tavon Austin for a 20-yard touchdown reception. The Mountaineers had control, 41-31.

Geno Smith threw a touchdown pass in his eleventh straight game. He finished 20-31 for 219 yards and 2 touchdowns.

"I think we responded better than we did last week and that shows signs of improvement for this team," Smith said. "We grew up a lot today."

The Mountaineers outscored Rutgers 20-0 in the second half.

"Our defense did a great job of getting us the ball back and creating turnovers," Smith said. "On offense, we battled through the elements and we fought through adversity. We did enough to win today."

West Virginia had its best rushing performance of the season. The team combined for 215 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

"For us to come in after the loss last week and come into a situation on the road against a team that wanted to win, it shows that our team may be on the verge of growing up a little bit," Holgorsen said.

West Virginia has now defeated Rutgers 17 straight times.

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