(Friday, November 26th)
Final Score: West Virginia 35, Pittsburgh 10
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Geno Smith threw for 212 yards and three touchdowns as the West Virginia Mountaineers recorded the overwhelming 35-10 victory over the Pittsburgh Panthers in the 103rd edition of the famed Backyard Brawl at Heinz Field.
Smith converted 9-of-12 passes for the Mountaineers (8-3, 4-2 Big East) as they won their third straight since a bye in the schedule back in early November. Ryan Clarke gained just 28 yards on the ground for the visitors, but he still landed in the end zone twice for WVU. Noel Devine managed only 27 rushing yards on four carries.
The Panthers (6-5, 4-2) were paced by Tino Sunseri who hit on 28-of-46 passes for 284 yards and a score, but he was sacked twice and intercepted once as the hosts struggled with turnovers the entire afternoon. Pittsburgh put the ball on the turf a total of six times, losing possession on three of those miscues.
Clarke got the Mountaineers off on the right foot in the first quarter when he hit the end zone on a two-yard run following an interception right off the bat.
Later in the period Pittsburgh responded with an eight-yard TD pass from Sunseri to Devin Street, locking the score at 7-7 heading into the second quarter.
The only points of the second came on a two-yard pass play between Smith and Will Johnson, providing WVU with a 14-7 edge at the break.
Smith opened the second half with a 71-yard TD pass play to Tavon Austin, the longest play from scrimmage for the Mountaineers this season, pushing the advantage to 21-7.
Pittsburgh kicker Dan Hutchins was called on when the Panthers were stopped on a later drive that ate up 48 yards on just five plays, resulting in a 42-yard field goal conversion by Hutchins.
Austin, who finished with two catches on the afternoon, reeled in a 12-yard effort from Smith that again ended up in the end zone for West Virginia as the visitors built their lead back up to 28-10 heading into the fourth quarter.
Midway through the final stanza the Mountaineers capped an 11-play, 76-yard drive with a two-yard TD run by Clarke yet again to provide WVU with the solid 25-point triumph in hostile territory.
West Virginia picked up the win despite running 21 fewer offensive plays than the Panthers on the day.
With the loss, Pittsburgh gave up control in the Big East standings and the drive for the BCS invitation. With two games to play it is now UConn that controls its own destiny and the chase for the automatic bid to one of the premier postseason games. The Mountaineers still have a chance to capture the regular-season title, but they'll have to get some help from the Huskies over the next week or so.
11/26 17:10:28 ET