Mountaineers Crush Panthers
The West Virginia University defense forced four Pittsburgh turnovers and converted them into 14 points, en route to a 35-10 thumping of the Panthers Nov. 27 at Morgantown.
The Mountaineers got it started early when Brandon Hogan intercepted a pass at the West Virginia 45 and returned it 53 yards to the Pitt two. That set up the first of two Ryan Clark scores with Tyler Bitancurt adding the PAT, 7-0 WVU with 13.26 to go in the first.
The Panthers struck back with an eight-yard touchdown and added the PAT to tie the game at 7-7.
With 5:50 showing on the second-quarter clock, Hogan struck the Panther offense again, only this time he recovered a fumble at the Panther 46. A big Noel Devine pickup set up a Geno Smith to Will Johnson touchdown from two yards out. Bitancurt’s point-after was true and the score stood at 14-7, WVU, with 4:33 to go in the second quarter. That score also sent the teams to the break.
When play resumed, the Mountaineers received the kick and made it count by way of a 71-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Tavon Austin. Bitancurt added the PAT to push the Mountaineer advantage to 21-7 with 13:23 to go in the third.
The Panthers got a 42-yard field goal to cut the lead to 11, but that is as close as they would get.
With 1:29 showing on the third-quarter clock, Smith found Austin again, this time from 12 yards out. The reliable Bitancurt did his job on the PAT, pushing WVU to a 28-10 lead, which was good for the remainder of the third frame.
In the fourth, Ryan Clarke scored from the two to finish off the Panthers, 35-10, after Bitancurt’s good kick.
Top performers for WVU: passing, Geno Smith was 9-12 for 212 yards and three scores; rushing, Shawn Alston 16 carries for 71 yards; Ryan Clarke had six totes for 28 yards and two scores; receiving, Austin had two catches for 83 yards and two scores; Jock Sanders, four catches for 70 yards.
With the win, West Virginia forced a three-way tie for first in the Big East among WVU, Pittsburgh, and Connecticut.