MORGANTOWN, W.Va. &
Pat White wanted to show the West Virginia medical staff he was fine after getting up slowly from a hard hit. So the Mountaineers' quarterback did a flip on the sidelines between possessions.
He didn't miss a play, which was a good thing for No. 6 West Virginia.
White threw two touchdowns passes and his 50-yard run with 1:36 remaining in the game lifted the Mountaineers to a 38-31 win over Louisville on Thursday night to keep them in the thick of the Big East title race.
White took a hit from several Louisville players and fumbled the ball away early in the third quarter. He stayed on the ground briefly, shook his head and went to the sidelines with West Virginia leading 24-14.
"I got hit in the face, and the next thing I knew I was on the ground. That's all I can tell you," White said.
It was a play that epitomized normally sure-handed West Virginia's sloppy night in which it lost three of five fumbles and blew a 17-point lead.
"We made a lot of mistakes. Gosh, we could not hold onto the football," West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez said. "Every time we had a chance to put them away we didn't. Other folks might want to browbeat the guys, but they are kids. They make mistakes and I am glad they stayed with it."
White fumbled again later and Louisville's Maurice Mitchell recovered, leading to the tying field goal with — minutes left.
But White made up for it on the final drive in which Rodriguez called White's number on every play. White completed both of his passes and ran twice for 59 yards.
"That just shows what kind of player he is," Louisville defensive tackle Earl Heyman said. "Man, he's fast."
The win allowed West Virginia (8-1, 3-1) to remain on Connecticut's heels for a berth in the Bowl Championship Series with three games left, including a key matchup next week at Cincinnati.
Louisville (5-5, 2-3) was eliminated from the conference title chase. The Cardinals need a win either at South Florida or at home against Rutgers to become bowl eligible for a 10th straight season.
Brian Brohm led Louisville's comeback, breaking his own Big East record with his seventh 300-yard passing game of the season. He completed 27 of 46 passes for 345 yards, but was intercepted twice and sacked four times.
The Mountaineers, the least penalized team in the conference, were flagged 11 times for 116 yards.
Louisville held the nation's third-best rushing attack to 216 yards and leading rusher Steve Slaton had just 60 yards on 17 carries, his second-lowest total of the season. White finished with 24 times for 147 yards and threw for 181 more in his third straight stellar game against the Cardinals.
White fumbled on West Virginia's first possession of the third quarter, but Brohm was hit going back to pass by John Holmes. Eric Wicks scooped up the ball and ran 44 yards for a TD to give the Mountaineers a 31-14 lead.
After Slaton's fumble gave Louisville the ball at the West Virginia 46 late in the third quarter, a pass interference call on Ryan Mundy gave Louisville the ball at the 2. Brock Bolen scored from there to pull Louisville to 31-21.
A pass interference call on Ellis Lankster gave Louisville a first down at the West Virginia 12, and Brohm found Mario Urrutia in the end zone on the next play over an outstretched Lankster to pull the Cardinals to 31-28 with 10:32 left.
They were the first points given up by West Virginia's defense in the fourth quarter in five games.
Penalties against West Virginia on consecutive plays put Louisville in field goal range for Carmody's 37-yard tying kick.
Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe said he held his breath on White's final run, hoping for a tackle that never came.
"That's one of the things that's so tough about this offense they run is the fact that their quarterback is such a dynamic player," Kragthorpe said. "That's one of the dimensions that he brings to the game."
No. 6 West Virginia beats Louisville 38-31 in offensive showdown
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. &