Updated: Friday, November 26, 2004 1:20 AM EST
NCAA FOOTBALL RECAP
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Pittsburgh 16, (21) West Virginia 13
WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS
West Virginia Mountaineers
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PITTSBURGH PANTHERS
Pittsburgh Panthers
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PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Pittsburgh did its part. Now it needs Syracuse to come through on Saturday.

Sophomore Tyler Palko ran for a two-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter and the Panthers' defense limited No. 21 West Virginia to three second-half points in a 16-13 victory over the Mountaineers in a key Big East Conference matchup.

With the win, Pittsburgh (7-3, 4-2 Big East) is now one game behind Boston College in the conference standings. If the Eagles lose to the Orange on Saturday it would create a four-way tie atop the Big East standings and likely send the Panthers to one of the BCS bowls.

"It was just a great college football game," Pittsburgh coach Walt Harris said. "Both teams played their hearts out. I'm proud of the players because this wasn't easy."

In this one, West Virginia (8-3, 4-2) took control early, opening up a 10-0 lead after the first quarter and limiting Pitt to a pair of field goals by Josh Cummings in the second quarter. Over the final 30 minutes the Mountaineers were held to just a 31-yard field goal by Andy Good that gave them a 13-9 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Palko's scoring burst capped a 14-play, 73-yard drive that ate up over six minutes and gave the Panthers their first lead of the game with a little over four minutes remaining.

"Our defense played great and really kept us in the game," Harris said. "The kept us in it and finally we got it done on offense."

Palko completed 14-of-38 passes for 165 yards and was intercepted once.

"That is what football is all about right there," Palko said of the game winning drive.

West Virginia played without leading receiver Chris Henry for the contest. Henry, who has 811 receiving yards and a school-record 12 touchdowns, was suspended for the game against the Panthers for a violation of team rules.

Without his top target, Rasheed Marshall completed 14-of-26 passes for 145 yards and was intercepted twice. Marshall added 104 yards rushing on 18 carries.

"Lack of discipline and stupid penalties hurt us," West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez said. "Guys are playing hard and slipping all over the place. We give up a stupid penalty here and a stupid penalty there and those just killed us."

West Virginia committed 10 penalties for 89 yards compared to just two for 10 yards for Pittsburgh.

Jason Colson opened the scoring with a six-yard TD run with just under seven minutes left in the first quarter. Five minutes later Brad Cooper kicked a 26-yard field goal to give the Mountaineers a 10-point advantage.

Cooper was unable to convert opportunities to extend the West Virginia lead in the second quarter, missing wide right from 44-yards out and having a 31-yard attempt blocked as time expired in the first half.


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