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WVU fumbles one away

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By Tony Dobies
Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — West Virginia had never lost to Connecticut heading into Friday night.

The Mountaineers fumbled that spotless record away in a 16-13 overtime loss to the Huskies.

In overtime, fullback Ryan Clarke fumbled at UConn's 1-yard line on West Virginia's possession, and kicker Dave Teggart hit a 27-yard field goal to help UConn defeat the Mountaineers for the first time in seven tries.

It is just the second time in WVU coach Bill Stewart's tenure that his team has lost two straight games. The Mountaineers have lost back-to-back Big East games for the first time since 2004. WVU lost four fumbles — two by Clarke with single miscues by quarterback Geno Smith and running back Noel Devine.

West Virginia opened strong on offense for the second straight outing before struggling down the stretch. On the first play of West Virginia's second possession, receiver Brad Starks took a handoff from Smith and darted through the UConn defense untouched 53 yards for a touchdown to give WVU a 7-0 lead. It was Starks' first career rushing touchdown.

Later in the first quarter, a touchdown by Devine was called back because of a chop block on lineman Eric Jobe. A second straight flag, this time for illegal procedure, pushed WVU back to the UConn 29-yard line. The Mountaineers would settle for a 36-yard field goal by Tyler Bitancurt to go up, 10-0.

The Huskies tallied 10 straight points in the second and third quarters to tie the score.

UConn, which didn't record a first down until 11:30 remained in the second quarter, put together a strong drive right before halftime. WVU safety Terence Garvin had to break up a pass in the end zone with seven seconds to go in the half, but the Huskies put their first points on the board — a 39-yard field goal by Teggart — to head into the locker room down, 10-3.

On the first possession of the second half, WVU went for it on fourth-and-1 at the UConn 26. Clarke fumbled, ending any scoring chance.

The Huskies took advantage of the mishap and scored their first touchdown to tie it. On the 14th play of the drive, running back Jordan Todman broke off a 24-yard touchdown run up the gut of WVU's defense. Todman finished with 112 yards.

WVU put together a solid drive on its next possession, but it stalled at the 25-yard line, and Bitancurt kicked a 42-yard field goal to make it 13-10. After a Smith fumble, UConn answered with a field goal of its own — 26 yards by Teggart — to tie it again.

WVU had the ball at the UConn 33-yard line with a minute to play in regulation but elected to punt instead of attempting a field goal.

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