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It was Ground Zero for Zereoue in second half

by Joedy McCreary


(September 8) MORGANTOWN -- Amos Zereoue has seldom suffered through a second half like he did Saturday evening against Ohio State. Seven carries. Negative-3 yards.

And that lack of a ground game -- considered the Mountaineers' bread and butter -- proved to be West Virginia's downfall in its 34-17 loss to No. 1 Ohio State on Saturday.

Typically a ground-oriented team, West Virginia managed just 77 rushing yards -- including just one yard in the second half.

"We weren't able to sustain anything," WVU coach Don Nehlen said. "We needed to run more than we could."

Zereoue, who finished with 77 net yards on 20 carries, said after the game that the Heisman Trophy didn't mean anything to him. Good thing, too. Those numbers likely forced him out of the race.

"I don't care about the Heisman," Zereoue said. "I just have to get ready for Maryland."

Zereoue started out effectively, gaining 24 yards on his first four carries of the Mountaineers' opening drive. That drive ended in a Jay Taylor 47-yard field goal.

Zereoue also broke loose on a stop-and-go 19-yard run in the second quarter, which highlighted WVU's second scoring drive.

He had 80 yards at the halftime break and had broken Artie Owens' career rushing record of 2,648 yards in the first quarter.

But after that, Zereoue was virtually ineffective. His longest run in the second half was 6 yards.

Ohio State coach John Cooper said that he used his linebackers to stop Zereoue from cutting back and forced him to go one way.

"In the second half, they tried to close the run," Zereoue said. "They were ganging up on me. They were in the right spots at the right time."

What made things more frustrating for Zereoue was the success of his cross-field counterpart, OSU tailback Michael Wiley.

The shifty Wiley ran for 140 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown.

"They had a great line," Zereoue said, "and Wiley took advantage of it."

All of which led Zereoue to take a "sour grapes" reflection of the Ohio State game.

"This game didn't mean anything," Zereoue said.

"If we would have won, it would have been a great stepping stone. We had nothing to lose," Zereoue said.

Nothing, of course, except the Heisman Trophy.