White tosses career-high 5 TDs as West Virginia handles Villanova

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia coach Bill Stewart wasn't kidding when he said the Mountaineers would throw more this season.

Pat White threw a career-high five touchdown passes, set personal marks for attempts and completions and No. 8 West Virginia beat Villanova 48-21 Saturday.

Stewart, in his first season in charge of the Mountaineers, has repeated his message over and over that White, whose passing has always been just a compliment to his speed and elusiveness, would go to the air often to balance the offense.

After all, Pittsburgh ended West Virginia's national championship hopes in the 2007 regular-season finale by not giving the Mountaineers room to run the ball. South Florida did the same thing in handing West Virginia its only other loss.

Villanova tried that too Saturday. This time, West Virginia was ready to make a statement.

"As I tried to say way back and no one would believe me, if you put nine people in the box, we're going to throw the football. It's the only thing I know how to do," Stewart said.

White went 25-for-33. He finished with 208 passing yards and broke Marc Bulger's school career record for total offense.

"White was on target -- bull's-eye, bull's-eye -- all day," said Stewart, who took over for West Virginia last year after Rich Rodriguez bolted to Michigan.

Granted, all that chucking it around came against a Championship Subdivision opponent. The question is whether West Virginia will throw as often next Saturday at East Carolina, which upset No. 17 Virginia Tech 27-22 Saturday and held the Hokies to 243 yards of offense, including 139 through the air.

Stewart said he didn't want to unveil all the new wrinkles of the spread offense inherited from Rodriguez, who left for Michigan two weeks before the Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma.

The way White played Saturday, it's hard to believe his previous career high for TD tosses was two.

"We thought they were as good as advertised," said Villanova coach Andy Talley. "We think Pat White is an underrated passer. I think it's really going to help him as a pro prospect."

Alric Arnett and Jock Sanders each caught two of White's scoring passes and the other went to Will Johnson.

The soft-spoken White said he was proud of breaking Bulger's career record of 7,827 yards. White now has 7,984.

"It means we've been successful since I've been here," White said. "Hopefully we can keep going."

Villanova controlled the clock for more than 20 minutes in the first half or the outcome could have been worse. White didn't need to have the ball for long to do his damage.

West Virginia scored on six straight possessions with half of the drives lasting five or fewer plays.

"When you score, sometimes that makes up for time of possession," Stewart said.

The Mountaineers built a 34-7 lead midway through the third quarter and didn't need a big day from their vaunted rushing attack, which averaged 297 yards per game a year ago.

West Virginia's ground game managed just 149 yards. Last year the Mountaineers passed for more yards than it ran for only once, in a loss at South Florida.

Good play on defense and special teams added to West Virginia's big day.

In the first quarter Antwon Young drove the Wildcats to the West Virginia 13 but he fumbled on third-and-goal as he went back to throw. The ball bounced toward midfield before the Mountaineers' Mortty Ivy returned it 30 yards to the Villanova 24. White threw to Arnett in the middle of the end zone on the next play.

A 25-yard punt return by Ellis Lankster then set up a 10-play drive capped by White's 3-yard TD toss to Johnson to put West Virginia ahead 14-0.

After White's fifth TD toss, a 17-yarder to Sanders early in the fourth, Ivy returned an interception 29 yards for a 48-14 lead.

"I hated to throw the ball at the end because coach Talley is a good friend of mine," Stewart said. "But he didn't take nine men out of the box."

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2015 Colonial Athletic Association Standings

James Madison6-29-3
William & Mary6-29-4
New Hampshire5-37-5
Stony Brook3-55-5
Rhode Island1-71-10