Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

November 26, 2009

Pitt-West Virginia features Big East's top 2 backs

MORGANTOWN (AP) — West Virginia coach Bill Stewart likes a comeback story and he sees a darned good one in Pittsburgh’s Bill Stull.

Stewart has noticed Stull’s improvement since the last time No. 8 Pittsburgh (9-1, 5-0 Big East) and West Virginia (7-3, 3-2) met in the Backyard Brawl. The quarterback can help lead the Panthers to their third straight win over the Mountaineers on Friday night, something that hasn’t happened since Pitt won seven straight from 1976-82.

Stull is fourth nationally in passing efficiency with 18 touchdown passes and only four interceptions and has the Panthers within reach of their first Bowl Championship Series berth in five years.

“He is a classic example of a young man that stayed the course, kept fighting and got up off the carpet,” Stewart said.

Last year, Stull had to be carried off the field on a stretcher following a hard hit during an October loss to Rutgers and wasn’t the same after that. In a 19-15 win over West Virginia, he threw two interceptions, fumbled and twice took Pittsburgh inside the Mountaineers’ 10 without producing points. Stull’s 2008 season ended with a 7-for-24 performance for 52 yards in a 3-0 Sun Bowl loss to Oregon State. Fans even continued to boo him in the 2009 season opener, but he has been effective and can help Pittsburgh improve to 10-1 for the first time since the Dan Marino-led team in 1981.

“To be booed at home like Bill Stull was, it’s good to see him stay within the framework of his upbringing,” Stewart said. “I hope he doesn’t get booed at Mountaineer Stadium, except for when he walks in the door. But I also hope he doesn’t receive a lot of cheers. We want to win this football game.”

If recent history is any indication, Stull has his work cut out for him. Running the ball has spelled the difference in the Backyard Brawl.

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