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Bottled up WVU survives Pirates


West Virginia wide receiver Brandon Myles (7) runs after catching the ball with East Carolina defender Pierre Parker (1) in pursuit Saturday in Morgantown. (AP Photo/Joe Sadlek)

Scoreboard: C-USA teams & ECU opponents

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia's heralded running game ran into unexpected resistance Saturday but the Mountaineers managed just enough big plays in other aspects of their game to fend off a persistent East Carolina team.

Adam Bednarik and Pat White each threw a touchdown pass and Antonio Lewis returned a punt 76 yards for a score to carry West Virginia over the Pirates 20-15.

The Mountaineers (4-0) scored all their points in the first half, and then held off the Pirates, who were inside the West Virginia 20 four times in the first three quarters but unable to score a touchdown.

West Virginia, which plays No. 4 Virginia Tech next week, managed just total 102 yards after halftime.

West Virginia had the nation's seventh-best rushing attack and had averaged 458 yards on the ground against the Pirates over the last three seasons, but were limited to 127 this time.

The Mountaineers failed to score in the second half for the first time since Oct. 25, 2001.

West Virginia's quarterback tandem had its worst outing, combining for three interceptions and a fumble. West Virginia freshman Pat McAfee missed two field goals and an extra point.

Except for Robert Lee's three field goals, East Carolina (1-2) was equally inept in the first three quarters.

The Pirates made it interesting in the final minutes.

A poor punt gave East Carolina the ball at the West Virginia 48 and the Pirates needed just 44 seconds to score on James Pinkney's 11-yard TD pass to Aundrae Allison with five minutes left. A 2-point conversion pass attempt failed.

East Carolina got the ball back two more times, including at its 38-yard line with 19 seconds left. Pinkney hit Chris Johnson with a 10-yard pass but was sacked by Keilen Dykes on the next play to end the game.

On the game's first series, Pinkney fumbled as he was hit by Marc Magro. Jeff Noechel recovered for the Mountaineers at the ECU 44. Six plays later, Bednarik hit Darius Reynaud with a 15-yard TD pass.

But Bednarik was intercepted and fumbled the ball away on the next two series. Bednarik strained his knee on the fumble and did not return until the third quarter.

For the second straight year, West Virginia returned a punt 76 yards for a score in the second quarter against the Pirates. Antonio Lewis' return put the Mountaineers ahead 14-3.

West Virginia's Brandon Myles had three catches for 40 yards on another second-quarter drive, including a 10-yard TD reception from White for a 20-3 lead.

02/23/2007 10:54 AM

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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