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West Virginia stays in control

White accounts for 295 yards in 28-23 win over Cincinnati to keep team in line for Big East title.

November 18, 2007|From the Associated Press

CINCINNATI -- Pat White ran another team out of the Big East race, leaving No. 5 West Virginia with a chance to claim a championship at home.

The dashing, dual-threat quarterback ran for a pair of second-quarter touchdowns Saturday night, leading the Mountaineers to a 28-23 victory over No. 21 Cincinnati that reduced the conference title chase to two teams.

The Mountaineers (9-1, 4-1) can win their second Big East championship in three years by closing with victories over No. 25 Connecticut and Pittsburgh. Their game against UConn in Morgantown, W.Va., next weekend probably will decide it.

Losses by No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Oklahoma could also boost them in the next poll, something that's a secondary concern for now.

"That's the only goal we talk about much -- capturing the Big East championship," Coach Rich Rodriguez said. "Now we're to the point that we can say this game is for the Big East championship. It is."

For most of the season, Cincinnati (8-3, 3-3) was one of the conference's biggest surprises, staying in contention with a hard-hitting defense that leads the country in forcing turnovers. The Bearcats couldn't do much except admire White's handiwork.

The junior quarterback ran a career-high 27 times for 155 yards and threw for 140 more, staying one step ahead of the Bearcats defense. Steve Slaton also ran for 103 yards and a one-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

"A game like this shows that we are close to these teams," Cincinnati safety Haruki Nakamura said. "It can be frustrating chasing Patrick White, but you have to stay focused. White is a great talent. He makes plays."

They've seen this before.

White and Slaton have had their way during three consecutive victories over Cincinnati. West Virginia improved to 14-1-1 all-time against the Bearcats.

White became the first Big East quarterback to run for 3,000 yards in a career. When he wasn't tucking the ball and taking off, White was 13 for 19 for 140 yards. He also threw one tipped interception and had a pair of late fumbles that kept it close.

Next up: A chance to win a title at home.

"It means a lot," White said. "We have home-field advantage on our side going into it."

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