Coming On Strong
West Virginia's Pat White and Noel Devine needed a little time to hit full stride against fading Auburn.
White threw three touchdown passes, Devine ran for a career-high 207 yards and West Virginia scored 31 straight points to beat the Tigers 34-17 on Thursday night.
White, an Alabama native playing his first full game in a month following head and hand injuries, overcame two early interceptions to bring West Virginia (5-2) back from a 17-3 deficit. The Mountaineers had their highest point total since a season-opening 48-21 win over Villanova.
``I tried to give it away early, but my teammates - offensively, defensively and on special teams - all hung in there for me,'' White said. ``We felt we could put points on the board and we did.''
Auburn's Kodi Burns threw touchdown pass and ran for another score before halftime but couldn't keep the early momentum going.
Auburn (4-4) managed just 33 second-half yards, were shut out over the final 40 minutes and now have a three-game losing streak. That hadn't happened since 1999, coach Tommy Tuberville's first season.
Auburn lost for only the ninth time under Tuberville when leading at halftime.
``We just didn't have an answer the second half,'' Tuberville said. ``Pat White and Noel Devine had great speed. We couldn't stop the run with the four-man front. We couldn't tackle. Then we started blitzing and turned some receivers open.''
Dorrell Jalloh caught two of White's scoring tosses. His 2-yard catch put West Virginia ahead to stay late in the third. On his second, Jalloh shed the grasp of defender Zac Etheridge, turned around without breaking stride, sidestepped Walter McFadden and scored from 32 yards out early in the fourth to make it 27-17.
Devine completed the scoring with a 30-yard TD run late in the game. He surpassed a 188-yard effort in an Oct. 11 win over Syracuse and has four 100-yard efforts this season.
``I saw confidence oozing out of everyone tonight,'' West Virginia coach Bill Stewart said ``Our defense played aggressive. We played a little smarter in the second half.''
Auburn entered the game as the ninth-best scoring defense but allowed a season high for points.
``It's very difficult to watch them score like that,'' said Auburn linebacker Josh Bynes. ``We've got to get better defensively.''
Auburn made a rare trip far to the north for its first nonconference road game since 2003. The crisp fall night hardly threw off the warm-weather Tigers. In fact, it was West Virginia that looked out of place early.
White entered the game completing 73 percent of his passes and had thrown just one interception all season, but was picked off on West Virginia's first two series.
``It made me mad,'' White said. ``I don't know if it flustered me. You've got to take the good with the bad.''
Auburn followed Josh Bynes' interception with a 20-play drive that ate up nearly 10 minutes. But the Tigers couldn't find the end zone on three tries from inside the 3 and settled for Wes Byrum's short field goal.
After McFadden returned an interception 18 yards to the West Virginia 27, Burns tossed a third-down screen pass to Brad Lester, who followed three blockers 16 yards into the end zone.
Mario Fannin's 69-yard kickoff return set up Burns' 9-yard touchdown run for a 17-3 lead early in the second.
White hit a wide-open Alric Arnett with a 44-yard TD strike, West Virginia's longest pass play of the season, midway through the second to bring West Virginia to 17-10.
White was held to a season-low 8 rushing yards but more than made up for it with his arm. He finished 13-of-21 for 174 yards and now has 12 TD passes this season, just two shy of his total for all of last season.
Burns led Auburn with 82 rushing yards and went 13-of-21 for 111 yards with an interception.
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