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September 9, 2006

West Virginia cruises past Eastern Washington

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Steve Slaton rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns in just two series of work to lead No. 6 West Virginia to a 52-3 victory over Eastern Washington on Saturday.

Three backup quarterbacks combined for three rushing touchdowns and one passing for the Mountaineers (2-0), who used reserves for most of the game against the Division I-AA Eagles.

By the time West Virginia built a 21-3 lead early in the second quarter, Slaton and starting quarterback Pat White were done for the day with a short turnaround to Thursday night's home game against Maryland.

Eastern Washington (0-2) was a late addition to West Virginia's schedule after Buffalo opted out of a contract with the Mountaineers in February.

Eastern Washington provided little challenge for its $450,000 payday. The Eagles were outgained 591-185, including 394 on the ground.

Slaton, coming off 200-yard performances in his last two games, needed just two carries for his first score. He went untouched on first-quarter TD runs of 49 and 17 yards.

Slaton went to the bench afterward and didn't return, removing his uniform after halftime.

White soon followed. On West Virginia's third series, he drove the Mountaineers 65 yards with Owen Schmitt covering the final 7 for a score.

Jarrett Brown took over and directed a 14-play drive that ended with a 5-yard TD pass to Brandon Myles just before halftime.

Brown started the second half by taking the Mountaineers 81 yards, capped by 7-yard TD run up the middle for a 35-3 lead.

QBs Nate Sowers and Markell Harrison added TD runs of 8 and 1 yards, respectively, in the fourth quarter.

Eastern Washington protected the ball unlike a 56-17 loss at Oregon State last week in which the Eagles had four first-half turnovers that led to scores. But they were no match for a West Virginia defense using four new starters in the secondary this season.

Eastern Washington crossed midfield twice, both in the first half. Matt Nichols completed 13-of-25 passes for 90 yards before being replaced early in the fourth quarter.

Most of the Eagles' offense came during a 15-play drive that led to a short field goal early in the second quarter. Eastern Washington ran eight plays from inside the 10-yard line and twice was called for delay of game inside the 5.

Eastern Washington, playing a ranked opponent for only the second time in school history, made just its fourth trip east across the Mississippi River, the second time to Morgantown. Eastern lost to Fairmont State in the 1967 NAIA championship game at old Mountaineer Field.

The crowd of 59,504 was the largest ever to see Eastern Washington play, topping a 2002 game at Arizona State by more than 20,000.

For more coverage of the West Virginia Mountaineers, check out WVSports.com.



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