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Devine's runs lead Mountaineers past Auburn Tigers, 34-17;
Speedster jolts SEC "D" for 207 yards on 17 carries
Morgantown, WV - WVU QB Pat White threw two INTs resulting in Auburn scores for a 10-0 Tiger lead into the second quarter last night. Despite the QB's final statistics tallying 3 TD passes and 174 yards in the final outcome, it was soph RB Noel Devine whose big runs had the Tigers back on their heels to open up the effective passing game. His 207 yards on 17 carries and one TD included five runs of 20+ yards. For CollegeFootbballFan.com, it was the first trip to see a game in Morgantown, and it was the 350th college game we've attended since we started this crazy habit back in 1979. Charlie Murren, who invited me to my first Auburn game down on "the Plain" back in 1978, made our arrangements to meet at this one. That game featured Auburn hosting Vince Dooley's Georgia Bulldogs mentioned above.
Auburn extended their lead to 17-3 when QB Kodi Burns rolled right and reversed left for a 9-yard run as the Auburn fans we sat among started chanting "SEC! SEC!". I guess they forgot this same WVU team beat Georgia in the Sugar Bowl two years before. To make things look even more bleak for the Mountaineers (5-2), PK Wes Bynum executed a perfect on-sides kick to put AU right back in business, but the Tigers eventually punted the ball away. The band of orange we sat in among the sea of gold in Milan Puskar Stadium cheered and celebrated as the sea around us calmed before the storm. WVU pulled back to 17-10 as White connected with wide-open Alric Arnnett on a deep crossing pattern for a 44-yard TD pass following a 20-yard run by Devine.
During halftime, Charlie ventured though the stadium and inquired with eight WVU fans who "Milan Puskar" was. We never heard the Mountaineer's stadium referred to Milan Puskar Stadium before we saw the name on the structure. No one could tell him who Milan was . One ventured to guess that he's someone who gave a lot of money to build the new stadium. That was our guess. We'll have to "Google" the name. Charlie also said that it he hoped his Tigers (4-4) would not let down during the second half. They've done that several times this season already.
His words were prophetic as the Mountaineers of the Big East scored 24 more unanswered points in the second half. Pat McAfee , a strong-legged kicker, scored three from 42, and on the next series, White tossed a 2 -yard pass to Dorrell Jollah to take a 20-17 lead in a very quick third period.
Bynum's 44-yard FG attempt hooked right as did all his other kicks. Charlie commented that he's a terrible kicker. He was right. The game even started with his kick going out of bounds to start WVU on the 40. Devine ran for 35 yards, then for one, and then for six before White connected again with Jollah on a 32-yard pass play where he shook off an Auburn defender and finished in the end zone for a 27-17 lead. With 2:26 left in the game, Devine sped in for a score from 30 yards away for the final honors to defeat the Tigers, 34-17. The speedy RB with quick feet found seems and threatened to break off long runs whenever he touched the ball. He is definitely one of the quickest back we've ever seen in 350 football games!
Extra points: Charlie and I met in Hagerstown, MD and drove in together from there. The drive out I-70 to I-68 from Maryland to West Virginia was beautiful with fall foliage setting in. Even without the foliage, pretty scenery abounds out there.
Morgantown is crowded on game days and businesses around town sell parking spaces. We found a professional business and parked for $15. Met both Auburn and WVU fans parked next to us to share some stories and a few beers. The WVU fans gave us directions for best way out after the game to avoid all the downtown congestion. I was told that I was now welcome wearing my Penn State hat. In the past, PSU was hated especially for a 25-game winning Streak against the Mountaineers. Now that PSu beat Michigan coached by that scoundrel Rich Rodriguez, WVU fans love the Lions - at least this week!
On the way into Milan Puskar, we passed ESPN trailers where Lou Holtz and Mark May were just arriving. You could tell they were prepared to ignore the typical comments they hear from fans as well as those specifically hurled at May being a former Pitt player! We have to put the Backyard Brawl on a future schedule!
In the south end zone of Milan Puskar where we sat, many fans turn around and watch the big screen behind them when the action moves to the opposite end of the field.
Word is out that despite his very successful stint at Auburn with a record of 84-36 in ten years, Head Coach Tommy Tuberville's job is on the line. Alabama's resurgence under Lou Saban has the Auburn administration worried. A win over Bama this year is almost a must for Tommy despite his 7-2 record against The Tide! My question is who will replace him? Mack Brown? Tom Coughlin? Bill Bellichick? Vince Lombardi?
Wearing a Penn State hat, both Auburn and WVU fans commented they are rooting for the Lions to beat Ohio State this week. If anything, all those fans seem to respect Paterno and want to see him get another shot.
This was only the second win seen for WVU against five losses. We saw the win against Rutgers. We saw losses against PSU, Nebraska, and RU. Auburn is 3-5-1 in our annals. This loss ended a 3-game winning streak for us at their games.