MORGANTOWN - Just when it appeared West Virginia's defense was in trouble and the offense might not provide much help, the defense made a play to help.
As Connecticut drove toward WVU's end zone and a score that would have given the Huskies the lead in the third quarter Saturday, cornerback Pat Miller popped quarterback Johnny McEntee on an awkward slide on the 3-yard line, forcing a fumble.
Linebacker Jewone Snow recovered at the WVU 5 and returned it 83 yards to the Huskies 12. The Mountaineers scored on their next play, a touchdown pass from Geno Smith to Tavon Austin, and were on the way to a 43-16 victory.
Smith passed for touchdowns around a safety Snow shared with defensive end Bruce Irvin as WVU scored 23 unanswered points for a 33-9 lead. Snow's return got WVU closer than it had been to the goal line all day and served as the momentum shift the Mountaineers needed.
"It was immediate," he said. "It was crazy."
Snow, a redshirt freshman from Canton, Ohio, started in the middle for the second consecutive game. He had seven tackles and made only one error in the eyes of his position coach and defensive coordinator, Jeff Casteel.
Snow raced down the right sideline with Miller at his side as the gap between them and the Huskies closed. Snow was caught and tackled by UConn's 6-foot-6, 250-pound tight end Ryan Griffin.
"He should have lateraled that ball," Casteel said.
WITH NO. 13 WVU heading next to Syracuse (4-2, 0-1) after an open week, the Mountaineers make the trip as no other program in the history of the Carrier Dome, which opened in 1980.
In those years, no other visiting school has won four in a row under SU's bubble, as the Mountaineers did in their last four visits. Penn State won three in the 1980s and Miami won three Big East visits (1992, '94, '96), but no one besides WVU has won on the Orange carpet four straight times.
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MICHAEL MOLINARI, a redshirt freshman from Parkersburg, debuted at punter against the Huskies. He averaged 43 yards on five punts and flashed a desired consistency - his longest punt went 47 yards. Three went inside the UConn 20-yard line.
Corey Smith, who Molinari replaced after two shaky games, had only one inside the 20 in the first five games.
"Sometimes you've got to put guys in game situation and give guys a chance to see if they can do it," Coach Dana Holgorsen said. "UConn didn't come after him very much and that changes a guy as well, but he had time to kick it and the conditions were good. He took advantage of the opportunity."
Molinaro, a walk-on from Parkersburg South, is described in WVU's media guide as a former running back, safety, place kicker and punter. Molinari took a moment to correct his biographical information.