West Virginia beats No. 8 Pittsburgh 19-16
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP)—The outcome of the Backyard Brawl was in the hands—or more specifically on the foot—of a redshirt freshman and Tyler Bitancurt wasn’t about to mess up his perfect night.
Bitancurt kicked his fourth field goals, a 43-yarder, as time expired to lift West Virginia to a 19-16 win over No. 8 Pittsburgh on Friday night.
Noel Devine rushed for 134 yards and a score as West Virginia (8-3, 4-2 Big East) halted Pittsburgh’s five-game winning streak and got a small measure of revenge for the last Backyard Brawl played in Morgantown. Back in 2007, the Mountaineers were a win away from playing for a national title when a sub-.500 Pitt team upset Pat White and Co. in Rich Rodriguez’s last game as West Virginia coach.
This loss was not nearly as damaging for the Panthers (9-2, 5-1), who can still earn the conference’s Bowl Championship Series berth with a win at home next week against No. 5 Cincinnati.
“Trust me, we’ll turn the page on this one in a hurry and get ready for Cincinnati,” Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt said.
Pittsburgh was held out of the end zone on five drives inside the West Virginia 30 before Bill Stull found Jonathan Baldwin with a 50-yard TD toss with 2:54 left to tie the score at 16-16.
That gave Jarrett Brown enough time to move West Virginia 42 yards into position for the winning kick. Pittsburgh called a timeout to try to ice Bitancurt, who calmly walked back on the field.
“I didn’t say a word to Tyler Bitancurt,” West Virginia coach Bill Stewart said. “I looked at everybody but him.”
The Mountaineers’ sidelines erupted as his kick cleared with plenty of distance. Bitancurt, who won the kicking job in preseason camp following the graduation of Pat McAfee, has made 12-of-13 field goals this season.
Freshman Dion Lewis ran for 155 yards and Dan Hutchins kicked three field goals for the Panthers. Lewis, the nation’s fourth-best rusher, surpassed 100 yards for the sixth straight game. It marked the fourth straight game that West Virginia’s defense had allowed a 100-yard rusher.
“Dion made some great plays on his own tonight,” Wannstedt said. “We weren’t as physical on offense as we needed to be or what we had been. We stopped ourselves on a lot of drives.”
West Virginia outgained the Panthers 369-325 and broke Pitt’s modest two-game winning streak in the Backyard Brawl.
West Virginia earned its first win over a top-10 team since beating Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl following the 2007 season. The Mountaineers also completed a perfect season at home for the first time since 1993.
“I know a lot of them weren’t signature wins, but they were wins,” Stewart said.
Devine showed he had recovered from a sore ankle that limited him the past two games. He found a hole off left tackle and went 88 yards for a touchdown late in the third quarter to break a 6-all tie.
“Noel’s run gave us a big boost,” West Virginia offensive lineman Selvish Capers said. “I was just trying to hold my block and he was way over there. I heard the crowd get louder and I thought, OK, cool. When I turned around, he was way down the field.”
With its passing game ineffective, Pittsburgh went to Lewis on six straight running plays early in the fourth. But Pittsburgh went back to the pass one time too many and Robert Sands intercepted Stull at the West Virginia 39.
“I’m proud of the way our defense kept us in the game,” Stewart said.
Brown, who finished 19 of 31 for 164 yards, then found Alric Arnett down the middle for 35 yards to set up Bitancurt’s third field goal. The 39-yarder put West Virginia ahead 16-6 with 10 minutes left.
Stull, one of the nation’s most improved passers this season, had maybe his worst game of the season. But late in the fourth quarter he completed three straight passes, including his TD toss to Baldwin. Stull finished 16 of 30 for 179 yards with two interceptions.
Fullback Ryan Clarke kept West Virginia’s ensuing drive alive by converting on fourth-and-1 at the Pittsburgh 36. Two more runs put the ball at the 26 with 3 seconds left for Bitancurt’s winning kick.
The first half was more of a Backyard Crawl with not much offense and several missed opportunities by both teams.
West Virginia ran seven plays before it got positive yards on offense. The Mountaineers went for touchdowns instead of two field goals early and came away with no points both times.
Pittsburgh didn’t have any better luck with a missed field goal and two straight three-and-outs before Hutchins kicked a 37-yard field goal with 3:21 left until halftime for the game’s first points.
Bitancurt kicked a 20-yarder with 8 seconds left in the half to tie it.