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December 2, 2006
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -Jarrett Brown threw the go-ahead score and West Virginia knocked down Mike Teel's 2-point conversion pass to preserve a 41-39 triple-overtime win over Rutgers on Saturday night, denying the Scarlet Knights their first BCS berth and allowing Louisville to gain the automatic bid.
Brown ran for one touchdown and threw for another in his first career start to help No. 15 West Virginia (10-2, 5-2 Big East) cap its second straight 10-win season. Brown started for Pat White, who missed the game because of a sore ankle.
"What a ball game," West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez said. "No one panicked tonight."
The ending was a peculiar finish to an improbable regular season for No. 13 Rutgers (10-2, 5-2). A loser for so long, the Scarlet Knights started 9-0 before being upset at Cincinnati, then rebounded by beating Syracuse to set the stage for what would have been a historic win against WVU.
But while Ruthers produced its best season since going 11-0 in 1976, it wasn't enough to get the BCS berth the Scarlet Knights were hoping for.
Rutgers now could have to settle for the Texas Bowl. The Scarlet Knights dropped to 0-15 in Morgantown, dating to 1920.
"They have nothing to be ashamed of," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. "They played their hearts out."
West Virginia, which began the season with national championship aspirations, is headed to either the Gator or Sun bowls. The Gator notified the Big 12 that it will wait until Sunday to choose a team from the Big East or the Big 12. The Sun Bowl has the next choice after the Gator.
A month ago, the Mountaineers were third in the BCS standings before a Nov. 2 loss to Louisville dashed their national title hopes, then their BCS chances were lost with a shocking loss at home to South Florida.
Starting with the third overtime, teams are required to go for 2-point conversions following touchdowns. Brown hit Brandon Myles across the middle from 22 yards out for the go-ahead score against No. 13 Rutgers (10-2, 5-2), then found Dorrell Jalloh with a 2-point pass for a 41-33 lead.
Rutgers' Ray Rice then scored from 2 yards out. On the 2-point try, Teel scrambled to his right and threw toward Rice but Vaughn Rivers broke up the pass and several thousand fans in the sellout crowd ran onto the field in celebration.
No. 6 Louisville beat Connecticut 48-17 earlier Saturday to secure at least a tie for the conference title, then waited for the Rutgers-West Virginia result
It took awhile longer than expected.
Rutgers came from 10 points down for a 23-20 lead late in the fourth quarter on Jeremy Ito's 31-yard field goal. West Virginia's Pat McAfee kicked a 30-yarder with 53 seconds left to tie the score at 23-all.
Both kickers made field goals in the first overtime.
In the second overtime, Rice broke several tackles on a 12-yard run to the 2, setting up Leonard's touchdown run on the next play and giving the Scarlet Knights their first lead since early in the third quarter.
Brown then found Myles with a 19-yard pass to the 1 on third down and Steve Slaton scored on the next play to tie the score at 33-33.
Brown, a sophomore, finished 14-of-29 for 244 yards in his first extensive play.
"We have every confidence in Jarrett Brown," Rodriguez said. "He did a great job of using the opportunity he was given."
Slaton bounced back from his worst game of the season with 112 yards on 23 carries, including a pair of 1-yard TD runs. Without White, the nation's No. 2 rushing team was held to 195 yards on the ground.
Rice carried 25 times for 129 yards, including 90 yards after halftime. Teel was 19-of-26 for 278 yards and made West Virginia's secondary look susceptible for the second straight game.