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Ending not exactly storybook for Lewis

by Greg Talkington

SPORTS WRITER

MORGANTOWN -- Writhing in pain following a vicious, but legal hit -- this wasn't the way Brad Lewis wanted to see his collegiate career come to an end.

On the first play of West Virginia's second possession Saturday afternoon at Mountaineer Field, Lewis was sacked by Pitt linebacker Gerald Hayes. The senior quarterback was driven hard into the turf by the 240-pound Hayes, snapping Lewis' clavicle in the process.

Lewis laid on the turf for several minutes as trainers attended to him.

Four plays. One pass attempt. One completion for four yards.

But Lewis wasn't bitter after the game, won by Pitt 23-17.

"I'm just glad I got to start the game," Lewis, obviously still in pain, told reporters after the game. "I would much rather have started the game and got hurt than to not have played at all."

Lewis showed the same toughness as he's shown all season in dealing with WVU's struggle to grasp new coach Rich Rodriguez' no-huddle spread offense. But he says he has no regrets.

"The injury was pretty much something I can't control," he said. "It would have been nice to have gotten to play more in the game, but overall, it's been a great ride here and I have a lot of memories."

Had Lewis been able to stay in the game, he would have had a chance to go over the 4,000-yard mark for his career. He ended with 3,922 yards (ninth all-time at WVU) and 28 touchdown passes (seventh all-time).

n WHERE'S AVON?: Mountaineer running back Avon Cobourne came into the game ranked 13th in the nation in rushing at 123.4 yards per game. But Pitt's defense held him in check, limiting him to just 64 yards on 22 carries. His longest run of the day was just seven yards.

Cobourne has been regressing against the Panthers over the past three seasons.

As a freshman, he rolled up 210 yards on 26 carries in a 52-21 rout of the Panthers. Last season, Cobourne gained 100 yards on 20 carries in a 38-28 loss.

He was outrushed by both Pitt tailbacks Saturday. Backup Marcus Furman gained 72 yards on nine carries, while starter Raymond Kirkley, a 5-foot-11, 220-pound true freshman, had 70 yards on 14 carries.

n LAST TIME OUT: Nineteen seniors were introduced before the game. They included: wide receiver Seth Abraham; guard Jason Brooks; wide receiver Antonio Brown; cornerback Richard Bryant; safety O'Rondai Cox; linebacker Frank English; safety Shawn Hackett; linebacker Kyle Kayden; fullback-tight end Jeremy Knapp; guard Brad Knell; defensive tackle Antwan Lake; Lewis; Charles Macinnis; linebacker-end Corey McIntyre; kicker Brenden Rauh; running back Cooper Rego; safety Rick Sherrod; wide receiver Shawn Swindall and wide receiver-kick returner Shawn Terry.

Rodriguez appeared most appreciative of their efforts.

"None of these guys quit on us, even though the season didn't go like we thought it would," he said. "They hung in there right to the finish.

"They've been the kind of leaders we wanted them to be."

Sports writer Greg Talkington can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at gtalkington@exponent-telegram.com

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