Connecticut quarterback Johnny McEntee tried to make something out of a broken play -- and it ended up costing the Huskies.
McEntee's third-quarter fumble led to a touchdown that gave No. 16 West Virginia the momentum for good, and the Mountaineers beat Connecticut 43-16 on Saturday.
With the Huskies trailing 10-9, McEntee was driving UConn toward a go-ahead score when he was hit on the run by cornerback Pat Miller. The ball popped loose, West Virginia linebacker Jewone Snow grabbed it and went 83 yards down the right sideline before being caught at the Connecticut 12.
West Virginia, which had struggled on offense to that point, found the end zone two plays later and reeled off 33 consecutive points.
"Instead of going down on the ground and protect himself, he tried to make a play and the ball came out," said Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni. "That was a big play."
McEntee said UConn had West Virginia "where we wanted them" on the game-changing drive before things went sour.
"The wrong person shifted, so I tried to take it and get a couple of yards," McEntee said. "I think the fumble gave them momentum and they came out and made plays."
West Virginia amassed 541 total yards, including 450 yards passing from Geno Smith.
"We knew coming in how explosive they were," Pasqualoni said.
It was the second straight week that Connecticut allowed a passing attack to thrive. The Huskies gave up 479 through the air in a loss to Western Michigan a week ago.
Snow's return was the spark the Mountaineers needed. Smith, who completed 27 of 45 passes for four scores, found Tavon Austin on a post pattern in the back of the end zone two plays later for a 17-9 lead.
Connecticut (2-4, 0-1) got two first downs the rest of the game and managed 97 yards after halftime. McEntee was sacked five times -- once for a safety -- and was chased around the field all game. He finished 21 of 37 for 193 yards.
"That was a heck of a second half," said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. "That was a dominating performance from our defense."
For West Virginia, the scores kept coming.
After the Mountaineers got the ball back at their 16 on the next series, Smith hit Stedman Bailey with a pass at the West Virginia 36. Bailey sidestepped Ty-meer Brown and went the rest of the way untouched to put West Virginia ahead by double digits for good.
"That really took the wind out of our sails," Pasqualoni said.
Bruce Irvin sacked McEntee in the end zone late in the third. West Virginia got the ball back at midfield and scored in eight plays, with Brad Starks making a leaping catch over Dwayne Gratz for a 22-yard TD for a 33-9 lead.
Bailey later added a 27-yard scoring catch. He finished with seven catches for 178 yards, his fourth straight game of more than 100 receiving yards. Ivan McCartney had six catches for 131 yards.
Connecticut's only touchdown was a gift. Paul Millard relieved Smith in the fourth quarter and promptly threw an interception that Brown returned for a 48-yard score.