West Virginia tops Syracuse 17-6
Noel Devine helped WVU beat Syracuse, 17-6, Saturday, rushing for a career-best 188 yards, including a 92-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.
Devine took over the offensive load for his team, carrying the football 18 times and averaging 10 yards per carry.
“With Pat out, I figured I had to step up,” he said.
Mountaineer quarterback Patrick White was in street clothes and didn’t get into the game against the Orange. The WVU coaching staff and trainers pulled White from the contest as a precautionary measure because they felt White wasn’t ready to play, having taken a hit in the head last week during a game against Rutgers.
Devine’s 92-yard explosion awakened a quieted Milan Puskar Stadium, on an afternoon when some boos could be heard coming from disappointed fans.
Devine, a 5-foot-8, 173-pound running back from Ft. Myers, Fla., credited his teammates’ blocking during his career-long run.
“I give the run to [fullback/tight end] Will Johnson and the offensive line. It’s a team effort,” said Devine.
WVU head coach Bill Stewart praised the offensive line on the play and explained, “We stuck with our guts [and] gave the ball to the little guy.”
“I thought it was a great play by Noel,” said Ryan Stanchek, a WVU offensive lineman. “I thought as an offensive line, we did a great job on that play.”
The Orange defense gave the rest of the WVU offense trouble.
The Mountaineers were held to 268 total yards. Backup quarterback Jarrett Brown was 14 of 20, for 52 yards and a touchdown. WVU was penalized eight times for 69 yards and holding penalties stalled offensive drives, moving the Mountaineers backwards.
“I never really felt like there was a sense of rhythm ever,” said Jeff Mullen, WVU’s offensive coordinator. “We were moving the ball and every time we started moving it, it seemed to be a yellow flag out there.”
Syracuse (1-5, 0-2) had 346 total yards against WVU (4-2, 2-0) but managed just two field goals.
Placekicker Patrick Shadle made field goals from 26 yards and 53 yards for the Orange. His 53-yard make is a Mountaineer field record.
Curtis Brinkley ran for 144 yards against the Mountaineers and his teammate, quarterback Cameron Dantley passed for 204 yards, but was intercepted once by Nate Sowers.
The Orange owned the time of possession advantage 35:16 to 24:44.WVU ran just nine offensive plays in the first quarter.
The Mountaineers turned Syracuse away on a critical fourth down and goal play, late in the fourth quarter, where Dantley scrambled to his left, fired the ball into the endzone, but had his pass broken up by middle linebacker Anthony Leonard.
WVU took over on downs deep in their own territory and the scoreboard read 10-6. Devine’s 92-yard burst followed Leonard’s pass breakup and gave the Mountaineers a more comfortable lead over the Orange.
The two other scoring plays for WVU were Brown’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Jock Sanders, during the second quarter, and Pat McAfee’s 33-yard field goal, in the fourth.
WVU is off this week and will play Auburn (4-3) Thursday, Oct. 23.
Stewart expects White will be ready to play by then.