West Virginia rebounds from first loss by blasting Cincy

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- West Virginia is accustomed to scoring often. With Steve Slaton and Pat White producing the big plays, the Mountaineers showed they can put points on the board quickly, too.

White ran for two touchdowns and threw another and Slaton added two scoring runs as No. 10 West Virginia bounced back from its first loss with a 42-24 victory over Cincinnati on Saturday.

West Virginia (8-1, 3-1 Big East) overcame a sluggish start and scored five of its six TDs on drives of five plays or less.

Slaton, who fumbled twice after injuring his elbow and wrist in a Nov. 2 loss at Louisville, held onto the ball against the Bearcats. He ran for 148 yards on just 12 carries and had TD runs of 65 and 2 yards.

The loss to the Cardinals knocked the Mountaineers out of the national title chase. That loss was evident Saturday during West Virginia's pregame warmups, which coach Rich Rodriguez said "was like being in a morgue."

"I thought, 'man, this ain't good," he said.

Rodriguez then went to the locker room and gave what he called a different pregame speech, even telling his players to chest bump.

"I told them to loosen up and put a smile on their faces ... and let them have some fun for crying out loud," he said.

And fun it was.

West Virginia, the nation's second leading rushing offense, compiled 313 yards against Cincinnati, one of the best run defenses which had surrendered five TDs entering the game.

"In the back of everybody's mind, we were still tight from last week," Slaton said. "Coach Rod had us all loose and ready to turn it around. We were patient on offense. We hit the holes and got it going."

Cincinnati (5-5, 2-3) lost to a ranked opponent on the road for the fourth time this season. Coach Mark Dantonio had compared West Virginia's offense to top-ranked Ohio State's. The Buckeyes beat the Bearcats 37-7 earlier this season.

"Certainly, this game ranks as our biggest defeat," Dantonio said. "We got handled today."

West Virginia now has a short practice week before playing in the annual Backyard Brawl at Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

Several West Virginia defenders got their first career starts Saturday after Louisville's Brian Brohm threw for 354 yards. Cincinnati's Dustin Grutza, scrambling under constant pressure, had no such luck. He completed 13 of 24 passes for 143 yards and was intercepted twice. Backup Nick Davila threw a pair of fourth-quarter TDs.

Grutza took the Bearcats 75 yards early in the third quarter, hitting Derrick Stewart with a 45-yard TD pass to pull the Bearcats within 21-10.

Slaton answered with a 63-yard run on the first play of the next series to the Cincinnati 2, and White finished off the drive with a keeper on the next snap, his 11th rushing TD in the last four games.

"Pat White can create," Dantonio said. "He took a number of plays that were bad plays that broke down and created positive yardage plays."

White went 51 yards on a bootleg on the first play of West Virginia's next drive but fumbled at the Cincinnati 6. Rayshawn Bolden picked up the loose ball and stretched over the goal line for a TD.

"Rayshawn saved me on the fumble," White said. "I thought 'Oh boy.' But it was six points."

Quinton Andrews then returned an interception 20 yards to the Cincinnati 10, and Slaton scored from 3 yards out for a 42-10 lead late in the third.

West Virginia was held scoreless in the first quarter for the first time in 15 games.

White, who rushed for 93 yards on 10 carries, scored from 3 yards out on the first series of the second quarter and lofted a pass that Brandon Myles caught in the left corner of the end zone four minutes later for a 34-yard TD.

Slaton slipped through a crack on the right side and went 65 yards up the sideline for a score on the second play of West Virginia's next series. The 21 first-half points were the most allowed by Cincinnati all season.