NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - OCTOBER 29: Geno Smith #12 of the West Virginia Mountaineers celebrates after Shawne Alston #20 scored a touchdown against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at High Point Solutions Stadium on October 29, 2011 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

West Virginia Vs. Rutgers: Mountaineers Use Second Half Comeback To Storm To Victory, 41-31

West Virginia looks to recover from last week's loss on the road in New Jersey against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

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West Virginia Vs. Rutgers Final Score: Mountaineers Use Strong Second Half To Storm To 41-31 Victory

The 4th quarter started in eventful fashion as the Rutgers passing game kept the Mountaineer defense on its heels and the Knights drove effortlessly down the field. Once stopped inside the twenty yard line, Rutgers set up a fake field goal which was almost executed perfectly, but was broken up at the last instant by Darwin Cook.

The Mountaineers moved the ball convincingly on the next drive behind big rushes from Dustin Garrison and Shawn Alston and a long reception by Stedman Bailey, his second big catch of the game. The drive ground its way down to the one yard line where Shawn Alston was stopped on 3rd and goal. Dana Holgorsen elected to go for it, and Geno Smith scrambled out of a broken play for a one yard touchdown dive. WVU kicker Tyler Bitancurt then bounced the point after off of an upright, to give the Mountaineers a 34-31 lead.

After playing an impressive half already the defense came up with another big play. Julian Miller opportunistically jumped on a Gary Nova fumble which slipped out of his hands, presumably an effect of the wet weather.

Tavon Austin single handedly made Rutgers pay for their costly mistake, first scampering for 16 yards on another toss play. Austin followed that up one play later with a 20 yard touchdown reception where he made one man miss and then accelerated towards the endzone. The Mountaineers struggled on both sides of the ball in the first half, but came up strong in the second, scoring 20 consecutive unanswered points to take a 41-31 lead.

The Mountaineers held on to defeat Rutgers for the 17th consecutive time. The first half was ugly, but the second featured some impressive displays from the Blue and Gold. While the offense still wasn’t as explosive as many would like, Alston, Bailey and Austin all showed great resolved and helped will the Mountaineers back into the ballgame. The defense, which surrendered a whopping 31 first half points, threw a shut out in the second frame.

As WVU returns home next week to face Louisville, a myriad of questions remain about this Mountaineer team. Its hard to say how the final five Big East games will play out, but it’s safe to say that they won’t be boring.


West Virginia Vs. Rutgers: Mountaineers Trail Scarlet Knights 31-28 Entering The 4th Quarter

The third quarter got off to a slow start as both teams traded three and outs and failed to pick up the sort of momentum we saw in the first half.

Finally, after a 7 play drive which saw the ’Eers travel 46 yards, West Virginia found paydirt on a 19 yard touchdown toss to Stedman Bailey. Geno Smith just threw it up in the back of the endzone and Bailey tipped the ball to himself. As implausible as it seems, that “chuck it and let Stedman work things out” play has been the most successful play in the Mountaineer playbook of late.

The Mountaineer defense, who has performed admirably thus far in the second half came up huge with a Broderick Jenkins interception at the 44 yard line. Jenkins did an incredible job getting both feet in bounds as he hauled in Gary Nova’s errant pass. Unfortunately the Mountaineer offense couldn’t capitalize on the Rutgers mistake, going three and out once they got a hold of the football.

The Mountaineer defense continued to bend but not break on the next Scarlet Knight possession. The ’Eers gave up a couple of first downs as Rutgers ran the ball convincingly, but their luck ran out a few plays later.

Entering the fourth quarter, the Mountaineers trail by 3.


West Virginia Vs. Rutgers: Scarlet Knights Lead 31-21 After High-Scoring First Half

The Mountaineers answered quickly at the outset of the second quarter to retake the lead, 21-17, on a three-yard touchdown run from Shawn Alston, his second score of the day. The play was set up by a Julian Miller fumble recovery inside the five yard line as Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova was unable to handle a first down snap.

Rutgers retook a 24-21 lead on their next possession with a one-yard touchdown dive by Jawan Jamison. The Scarlet Knights drive was set up by two Pat Miller pass interference penalties, the second of which came on 4th and 10.

The Mountaineers couldn’t find any traction on their next drive, while Rutgers moved the ball the length of the field on their grinding drive which resulted in another touchdown for Jamison. His 14 yard scamper came on 4th and 1, before which Rutgers called back to back timeouts. Whatever the reason, it worked and allowed the Scarlet Knights to stretch their lead to 10. Rutgers has now found the end zone on four of their last five possessions.

West Virginia closed out the first half on a down note as a bad hold kept Tyler Bitancurt from being able to attempt a field goal at the buzzer.


West Virginia Vs. Rutgers: Scarlet Knights Lead 17-14 After Action-Packed First Quarter

Snow and ice will be the dominant themes of the day as Piscataway has turned into a winter wonderland. Early in the game, both offenses have struggled in almost all situations. West Virginia netted -1 yard on it’s two opening drives. Rutgers opened the scoring with a 40-yard San San Te field goal. Rutgers did little to earn the field position but were helped out immensely by a 26-yard Michael Molinari punt from the Mountaineers' goal line.

The Mountaineers bounced back into things on their third drive, finally figuring out ways to gain positive yardage. After two great plays from Dustin Garrison, one rushing and one receiving, power back Shawn Alston busted through the line for a 52-yard touchdown. Alston demonstrated how the lack of footing on the snowy field can work in the offense's favor. Once the burly back got rumbling down-field he seemed to have an advantage over the quicker players on the field who had trouble keeping their footing.

The weather reared its ugly head on the Mountaineers next possession when the ball slipped out of Geno Smith’s hands deep in Rutgers territory. Geno’s fumble set up a 14 yard touchdown catch by Mohamed Sanu. It appeared Keith Tandy would stop the play in its tracks, but Sanu bounced off of him and walked into the endzone. It was a typical Mountaineers defensive play. This team loves to hit but hates to tackle. This time it cost them.

It didn’t take long for the Mountaineers to answer, scoring on their very next play from scrimmage. Tavon Austin sprinted down the sidelines on an 80 yard end around, another example of how players can find pay-dirt even with uneven footing. Once Austin beat the initial defenders, it was impossible for anyone to catch up with him.

The big play theme continued on the next Rutgers drive when Mark Harrison got behind Keith Tandy for a 40 yard touchdown catch. Najee Goode was inches away from stopping the play in the backfield, but Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova got the ball out just in the nick of time. While neither team can seem to string together two first downs, both have found success with the quick strike.

Brad Starks returned the ensuing kickoff for 80 yards down to the Rutgers six yard line, but it was called back on a holding penalty.


West Virginia Vs. Rutgers Odds And Ends

West Virginia, 5-2 (1-1), will be looking to quell the embarrassment of the 49-23 drubbing they suffered at the hands of Syracuse and get their season back on track against Rutgers, 5-2 (2-1), who suffered their lone Big East loss last week, 16-14 to Louisville. The winner of this game has the inside track to the Big East's (perhaps final) BCS bid.

West Virginia is abuzz with rumors, now confirmed, that the Mountaineers will be headed to the Big 12. Their departure date is a source of much consternation. The Big East is defending its clause and, is threatening legal action should WVU try for an early exit. That might not be a factor for the team in this particular game, but you can expect it to come up in the broadcast booth.

Who: No. 25 West Virginia 5-2 (1-1) Vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights 5-2 (2-1)

Where: High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, New Jersey

When: 3:30 p.m. EST

TV Information: ABC, Mark Neely and Ray Bentley have the call.

Radio Information: 97.5 FM

Spread: West Virginia by 7

Check in with us here on SB Nation Pittsbugh in the game's Storystream for more coverage and in-game updates.

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