Sunday, December 7, 2008

West Virginia Freezes out USF in Season Finale

By JC De La Torre

West Virigina honored star Quarterback Pat White's last game in a Mountaineer uniform by wearing all white. God contributed by adding a little white to the scenery with a snow storm, and in the end, the Mountaineers froze out the USF Bulls 13-7 thanks to their defense and a pitiful redzone performance by the Bulls offense.

The Mountaineers opened the game with an 11 play 59 yd drive that was completed with a White to Tyler Urban 11 yd touchdown pass to give West Virginia the early lead. USF came right back down the field, driving all the way to Mountaineer 9 yd line on a 13 play, 64 yd drive. Unfortunately for the Bulls, running back Mike Ford fumbled the football at the 5 yd line, ending the South Florida threat.

After holding West Virginia, the Bulls opened the second quarter of the game with another solid drive, going 75 yds in 12 plays that included quarterback Matt Grothe hitting Wide Receiver Jessie Hester for 20 yds and reciever Dontavia Bogan for 33 yds. Grothe would finish off the drive himself, driving into the endzone Tim Tebow-style to tie the game at 7.

After an exchange of punts, South Florida got the ball back with 3:15 left in the half. Grothe drove the Bulls 61 yds in 9 plays all the way to the WVU 15 yd line but a terrible decision by Grothe cost the Bulls as he was intercepted in the end zone by Sidney Glover with 0:33 left. The 33 seconds would be enough for Pat White, who with the help of a pass interference penalty on the Bulls moved the Mountaineers into field goal range. Pat McAfee drilled a 45 yd field goal as time expired to give West Virginia a 10-7 halftime lead.

The 2nd half got off to a rocky start for the Bulls, after receiving the kickoff, on the second play from scrimmage Quarteback Matt Grothe was intercepted by Ellis Lankste at the West Virgina 41 yd line. The pick would lead to a 42 yd McAfee field goal to make it 13-7 West Virginia. The teams would end the 3rd quarter exchanging punts. As they moved into the 4th quarter, the Mountaineers would miss two golden opportunities to put the game away. First, they drove down the the USF 22 yd line but fumbled the ball away. Then with 5:36 left in the game, McAfee missed a 48 yd attempt giving the Bulls one last chance. Grothe passed USF all the way to the WVU 14 yd line. A two yard loss by running back Jamar Taylor and two incompletions by Grothe set up 4th and 12 on the 16 with 0:30 left in the game. Grothe's desperation pass intended for Taurus Johnson fell incomplete and that was the ball game.

The Bulls finish the 2008 regular season with a disappointing 7-5 record. They have accepted the invitation to play in the inaugural St. Pete Bowl at Tropicana Field on December 20th, definitely a far cry from where they expected to be after starting the season 5-0.

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