West Virginia Sneaks by Syracuse, 17-6
Lafferty, Tricia, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- This could have been the game in which West Virginia proved that its offense wasn't as dull as it had appeared previously.
The stage was set, with the Mountaineers facing a one-win Syracuse fielding the sixth-worst defense in college football.
But with quarterback Pat White watching from the side, the Mountaineers were lucky to escape with a 17-6 victory against Syracuse on Saturday at Mountaineer Field.
"I never really felt like there was a sense of rhythm, ever," West Virginia offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen said.
Part of that had to do with White's absence.
West Virginia coach Bill Stewart said it was decided Friday afternoon that White would not dress after sustaining a concussion last week against Rutgers. Stewart said the senior will be ready for West Virginia's next game Oct. 23 against Auburn.
White missed just the second start of his career and let Jarrett Brown take hold of the offense.
But it was West Virginia sophomore tailback Noel Devine who stepped up with a game-winning, 92-yard touchdown run with 4:16 remaining. To get to that point, though, West Virginia (4-2, 2-0) overcame a 3-0 first-quarter deficit, took a 7-6 lead at the break and built a 10-6 advantage after three quarters.
With his career-long run, Devine bailed out Brown and a struggling offense which was held to 268 yards -- the second-worst performance of the season -- by Syracuse (1-5, 0-2).
"Not many people think we're very good, but we find a way to win, and that was impressive to me at the end of the ballgame," Stewart said. "We stuck with our guts, gave the ball to the little guy (Noel Devine) and that was a heck of a play call by Coach Mullen."
Devine was the lone bright spot in West Virginia's offense, which heard plenty of boos from the already frustrated fans at Milan Puskar Stadium. He finished the game with 188 yards -- including the second-longest run in school history -- and a touchdown on 18 carries. …