West Virginia settles for 'ugly win' vs. Kansas in kicking-heavy game

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .

Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 8.43.55 PM


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia won this football game by 19 points, which is significantly better than losing by 12 points, which was the Mountaineers' fate against Kansas last season.

But, yeah, as Clint Trickett said after the game tonight, "It's not a good win. It's an ugly win." 

On one side, Josh Lambert hit four of five field-goal tries, including a 53-yarder — this comes a game after he hit a 54-yarder. Lambert accounted for 15 points, which is more than Kansas scored. And the Jayhawks punter Trevor Pardula became the unlikely star of the game by punting 14 (!) times for 621 yards (!). Both figures are easily records for a West Virginia opponent.

"Their punter was sporadic," Dana Holgorsen said. "Dude was all over the place."

Which is an observation no one would ever make without the benefit of seeing more than a baker's dozen punts.

Tonight was punting heaven. Kansas' first scores, late in the third quarter, came after a muffed punt. Later, the Jayhawks returned a punt for a touchdown. It was grand, man. All hail the punt.

• PASSING | Trickett's numbers after this one didn't match what the video-game stats he put up in the first four weeks of the season, but they weren't awful. He completed 20 of 35 passes for 302 yards, a touchdown and an interception. But he and Holgorsen were pretty peeved afterward. "There's some other issues I've got with Clint right now," Holgorsen said. "Not his health. ... I was not happy on the sidelines. ... He's going to go back and learn a lot from this tape." From what we can tell, the coaches gave Trickett some more liberties at the line, throwing a few play-calling options at him and let him ride it out a bit, but he struggled. You could see the miscommunication and frustration from afar. And eventually it boiled down to the fact that Trickett missed a few big plays, 63-yarder to Kevin White aside. One ended in an interception at the goal line. Trickett didn't really want to talk about the offense after the game, he said. He was proud of the defense and eventually ticked down a list of things on the offense that were good. The problem, he asserted, was him. "I played terribly."

• RECEIVING | White finished with six catches for 132 yards and a touchdown, but he had three catches for 127 yards in the first quarter alone. With that number, he totaled more than 100 receiving yards in his fifth consecutive game, tying a school record set by Stedman Bailey in 2012. White was equally upset after the game, though, saying his performance was a letdown. It's all part and parcel of the offense struggling. Mario Alford had four catchers for 80 yards, Jordan Thompson two for 26 and Daikiel Shorts two for 23.

• RUSHING | What did earn positive reviews was West Virginia's run game. The Mountaineers ran for 255 yards on 42 carries. Rushel Shell had 113 rushing yards on 21 carries and scored a touchdown in the second quarter. Wendell Smallwood had 10 carries for 47 yards.

• SPECIAL TEAMS | Joe DeForest's special-teams units went from heroic last year to an extreme roller coaster this fall. First, you've got Lambert, who has overall been very good. He had a kick blocked in the second quarter today but nailed four kicks — three from beyond 40 yards. Nick O'Toole, who was so strong last season, bounced back for a good showing with four punts for a 45.2-yard average. But Jordan Thompson muffed a punt, and then Nick Harwell returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown. Like, yikes! The saving grave was Alford returning a kickoff 94 yards for the score. “I thought Mario was the fastest player on the planet today," Holgorsen said.

• DEFENSE | Earned rave reviews all around. They allowed just seven points, and those came off a muffed punt that gave them 18 yards to work with. Kansas managed just 176 yards of total offense — 111 passing and 65 rushing. There were no takeaways, though, and that frustrated Holgorsen. “Forcing them to punt 14 times was amazing. But that number would probably go down if we get a turnover every once in a while.” The retooled front line featured a lot more Edward Muldrow and Shaq Riddick and Brandon Golson, with Dontrill Hyman out.

• INJURIES | That brings us to this. Hyman was out with a knee injury — no timetable. Backup quarterback William Crest was on the sidelines in street clothes. “His shoulder is all jacked up right now,” Holgorsen said. That injury is a carry-over from fall camp and was re-aggravated during the bye week. That meant Skyler Howard was forced to make his debut when Trickett took a shot to the leg in the fourth quarter. Holgorsen said he was going to insert Howard anyway. Regardless, Howard missed both of his passes but rushed twice for 22 yards.

• ATTENDANCE | A young reporter shot straight fire to open up the postgame press conference, asking Holgorsen if he was disappointed to see a nowhere-near-sellout crowd of 52,164. “We want sellouts every game," Holgorsen said. "It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me that we wouldn’t have a sellout.” The coach wasn't trying to make a big statement or call the fans out, it seems. He knew weather and the opponent played a part, but it was a pretty disappointing showing for homecoming, considering how good the team has looked this season.


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Martin: Harrington 'makes it easy to play with' 10-04-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

As a result of the departure of Brooks Orpik as a free agent and injuries to Robert Bortuzzo (undisclosed) Olli Maatta (shoulder), Paul Martin (right) worked with a new defensive partner throughout most of the preseason in the form of Scott Harrington.

Nothing is certain but with Bortuzzo expected to be sidelined for several weeks and Maatta's status very uncertain, it appears Harrington could open the season as Martin's partner when the Penguins host the Ducks Thursday.

Earlier today, Martin talked about playing with Harrington.

What has worked with you two as a defensive pairing in the preseason?

I think with [Harrington], he’s been in the system for a while. He’s one of our better prospects. I think he came into camp very sharp expecting to make the team like he should. He’s good in all areas. Really solid. Very consistent. He skates really well. He’s strong on the puck. I think the big thing for younger guys is the defensive zone. He’s very good at being in the right spot and communicating. He makes it easy to play with.

Does that stay-at-home portion of his game make it easier for you to take advantage of your skating and get more involved in the offense?

"Yeah, for sure. Maybe be a little bit more adventurous up the ice. I think the way that we play here under coach [Mike] Johnston will be different than it we have in the past. It think it gives both [defensemen] an opportunity to support the play. We’ve got to read off each other. I think if it was in a different philosophy that we had in the past, it would be similar to that where he’d be a stay-at-home guy and let me be free a bit. But I think he’s capable of getting up the ice a little bit."

Is he comparable to anyone you've played with before?

"I think he has a little more offensive upside than you would think as far as being able to jump into the play and make shots. But he’s a physical [defenseman] for his size. More of a stay-at-home guy but he can skate. I think with the way he’ll be relied on is he’ll be a shutdown guy or a guy who plays against top lines if he continues to improve. He’s similar to [former Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik] I think as far as being able to skate and move the puck and he can be physical if he wants."

What important as a veteran when you're playing with a rookie defensive partner?

"I think you just want to make sure you’re setting the right example. Communicate with him. Let him know they’re making the right plays. I think that’s the biggest thing, that reassurance that they’re doing the right thing so they know to continue to do it. Make sure you’re doing it. Other than that, the way we play our system is to make sure you’re executing it. And to have a little fun too. They’re very tense and nervous coming into camp trying to make the team. They forget they have to have play and have fun too. And you can’t be worried about making mistakes too and you’ve got to let those go. I think he’s done a great job so far."

(Photos: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Empty Netter Assists - 10-04-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-Nick Spaling (above) could fill a variety of roles.


-Happy 42nd birthday to former Penguins forward Rusty Fitzgerald. A second-round pick in 1991, Fitzgerald spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 1994-95, Fitzgerald appeared in four games and scored one goal. He played in five playoff games that spring and failed to record a point. His only other NHL season was 1995-96. He saw action in 21 games and scored three points. After missing all of 1996-97 and much of 1997-98 due to a knee injury, Fitzgerald joined the Quad City Mallards of the UHL in the 1998 offseason. In 25 regular season games with the Penguins, Fitzgerald scored four points.


-Happy 74th birthday to former Penguins forward Vic Hadfield (right). Acquired from the Rangers in the 1974 offseason in a deal with sent Nick Beverly to New York, Hadfield spent parts of three seasons in Pittsburgh. In 1974-75, Hadfield played in 78 games and was third on the team in goals (31) and fourth in points (78). In that spring's postseason, he saw action in nine games and contributed six goals. Hadfield appeared in 76 games in 1975-76 and scored 31 goals and 65 assists. In the 1976 postseason, he scored one goal in three games. Hadfield's final NHL season was 1976-77. He was limited to nine games and two assists. He retired in the 1977 offseason. In 163 regular season games with the Penguins, Hadfield, one of three former Penguins who captained the Rangers (Andy Bathgate and Jaromir Jagr are the others), scored 140 points, 61st-most in franchise history. In 12 postseason game, he scored seven points. He currently owns a golfing center which bears his name in Oakville, Ont.

-Happy 25th birthday to former Penguins forward Zach Boychuk. Claimed off waivers from the Hurricanes early in the 2012-13 season, Boychuk's Penguins' career amounted to seven games and no points that campaign. Midway through the season, he was claimed off waivers by the Predators. He is currently a member of the Charlotte Checkers, the Hurricanes' AHL affiliate.

-After the Jump: Dan Carcillo finds work while Ryan Whitney is out of a job.

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Friday night live blog - Brumbaugh gets two records in South Fayette win

Written by Mike White on .

Live blog from the Steel Valley at South Fayette game. Look to the right of the blog for score updates and notes from other games. If you have a score, note or photo tweet with #wpial or send to @PGVarsityXtra.

Brett Brumbaugh celebrates after setting the WPIAL record for career passing yardage (photo by Post-Gazette's Matt Freed)

Brett Brumbaugh record

Nice to see after the game. Brett Brumbaugh go over to his brother, Christian, for congratulations. Christian at one time held WPIAL passing record. How is this for fate: Christian is a quarterback at William & Mary. This is the only game that he could see in the regular season because William & Mary is off this weekend. 

And Christian sees his brother break two WPIAL records.


Brett Brumbaugh finishes 15 of 26 for 304 yards and breaks WPIAL records for career yards and career TD passes. Brumbaugh now 540 of 820 for 8,728 yards. Has 103 career TD passes.

9:05 I'm sorry. I don't understand. South Fayette is ahead, 42-7, and Brett Brumbaugh and the first-team offense was just put back into the game. Why?

Mars clubbing Gateway.

Clairton clobbering Jeannette, 44-6. Will they get 70?

8:48 Someone in press box just said South Fayette should be playing in Triple-A. Why? They belong in Class AA. Enrollment says so. Why should they be in Class AAA? Because they're good. Just because you are good and have a good program doesn't mean you should play up.

People say the same thing about Clairton and I have never understood. Why should Clairton play in Class AA? Because they are good?

8:47 - Steel Valley has 42 players on its roster. But I count only 27 dressed. Wow.


And we have mercy rule here. Two TDs by South Fayette's Hunter Hayes. 1-yard run and 16-yard run.


Brett Brumbaugh 9 of 18 for 217 yards in first half. Steel Valley running back DeWayne Murray has been held to 32 yards on eight attempts.

7:59 Steel Valley drove to the 5, but turned the ball over on downs on fourth-and-3.


What would the chances be for a quarterback to break the WPIAL career passing yardage record and touchdown pass record -- on the same night?? And within minutes of each other.

Well, Brett Brumbaugh just threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to Roman Denson to give him a record 103 touchdown passes. He broke the passing yardage mark earlier. Both marks were held by former Sto-Rox QB Lenny Williams.

And in the coaches booth for Steel Valley - should I say "legendary" Mike Booth. Parade All-American linebacker at Brashear in late 1980s. First year defensive coordinator for Steel Valley after years at Gateway. With Booth is Mike Breaston (brother of Steve).

Mike Booth


Hunter Hayes scores on a 10-yard run. 8:06 in half.

7:37 Brumbaugh could have another record tonight, too. His two touchdown passes ties the record for a career with 102. 


Brett Brumbaugh broke the WPIAL passing yardage record, and what a way to do it. With a TD pass. 68 yards the play covered. Nick Ponikvar took a short pass over the middle and turned it into a TD. South Fayette had to wait to celebrate. Flag on play. But it was defensive holding.


7:29 Brandon Donovan misses 27 yd. FG for Steel Valley.


Brett Brumbaugh 5 of 13 for 71 yards. Needs 14 for record.

7:21 South Fayette turns ball over on downs. Steel Valley hanging in. Turnover for TD was vital. 

7:17 Brett Brumbaugh not real sharp in first quarter. Now 4 of 11. Maybe pressing a little for record?????


From his own end zone, Brett Brumbaugh hit, fumbles and Alex Mylsted picks it up and returns 3 yards for TD. Brandon Donovan PAT 


Brett Brumbaugh 5 yard TD pass to Roman Denson. Brumbaugh now 4 of 9 for 59 yards. 26 yards away from breaking record.

7:02 South Fayette turns the ball over on downs. Brumbaugh 1 for 4. 9 yards.

7:01 Brumbaugh 1 of 3 for 9 yards.

7:00 Game time. South Fayette gets ball first. 


Pitt is interested in this guy

This is Steel Valley running back DeWayne Murray. Steel Valley coach Rod Steele said Pitt seems very interested in Murray and is coming to the school Monday. Steele doesn't necessarily think the Panthers will offer a scholarship yet, but he believes they are very interested.

DeWayne Murray



























Look, mom I can stand on one leg

This is South Fayette quarterback Brett Brumbaugh in pregame warmups. He needs only 85 yards passing to break the WPIAL career passing record tonight.

Brett Brumbaugh Steel Valley

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A dozen predictions to go for Week 6

Written by Mike White on .

Varsity Blog program note: Tonight's live blog will come from the Steel Valley at South Fayette game. Not only is it a big game, but Brett Brumbaugh is going for the WPIAL passing record. Our game of the week is Jeannette at Clairton. For score updates, look to the right of this blog for scores and notes from @PGVarsityXtra on Twitter. If you have a score, note or even photo, tweet to @PGVarsityXtra or simply tweet with #WPIAL

And now, for a dozen predictions to go for this week. The record for last week was 10-2. Mr. Brightness here calls it "dozen" predictions to go, but only predicted 11 games last week. Ooops. So, we'll take a loss for the extra game. That makes the season record 44-16 (.733 percentage).

Here are some thoughts on this weekend's top games:


Mt. Lebanon at Bethel Park - I like what Mt. Lebanon has done offensively, but Bethel Park seems to be playing well. Winner: Bethel Park

North Hills vs. Central Catholic - Two tough games in a row for North Hills. Last week at Pine-Richland and now vs. Central Catholic. It will be two losses in a row, too. North Hills is 4-1 and still has a decent team, but Central Catholic is on a different level. In two weeks it is Central vs. Pine. Winner: Central Catholic

Baldwin at Upper St. Clair - This game doesn't match teams with impressive records, but it could be big in the playoff race in the Southeastern Conference. A loss might put USC in danger of not making the playoffs. Wow. Winner: Upper St. Clair


Franklin Regional at Hampton  - I keep going back and forth on the winner of this game. Hampton has been impressive all season while Franklin Regional has been impressive since a season-opening loss. Winner: Franklin Regional.

Gateway at Mars - Gateway certainly isn't a tremendous team now, but the Gators have won two in a row. This game will be big for playoff positioning. Winner: Mars.

Moon at Chartiers Valley - The winner is in much better position for a playoff spot. Winner: Chartiers Valley.


Steel Valley at South Fayette - Brett Brumbaugh (pictured) will become the WPIAL's all-time leading passer in the first half and the Lions will win their 25th consecutive regular-season game. Winner: South Fayette.

Beaver at Aliquippa - Last week, Aliquippa blew out an undefeated New Brighton team that had defeated Beaver. But something tells me that Beaver will make this game a lot closer than New Brighton. Still, ... Winner: Aliquippa.

Beaver Falls at Ellwood City - Both of these teams have shown the ability to score plenty of points, but they have both allowed a good number of points in games. Beaver Falls' defense might be a little better. Winner: Beaver Falls.


Jeannette at Clairton - Clairton will be without two starters who were thrown out of last week's game. That will impact the Bears some. Unbeaten Jeannette will end Clairton's string of five consecutive 70-point games, but Clairton will still win by a comfortable margin. Winner: Clairton.

Beth-Center at Frazier - How about the Commodores? Frazier is 5-0 for the first time in 31 years. But Beth-Center is still the king of the Tri-County South Conference. Winner: Beth-Center.

South Side Beaver at Shenango - South Side Beaver's offense has been awfully impressive since a loss to Neshannock in the opener. But home field might mean something in this game. A small upset. Winner: Shenango.

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