Mountaineers rout Kansas 59-10 on Senior Day
Published: Saturday, December 1, 2012
Updated: Saturday, December 1, 2012 19:12
For a season full of ups and downs, West Virginia found a way to end its season in impressive fashion.
Following their longest losing streak since 1986, the Mountaineers ended the 2012 regular season with back-to-back wins.
Quarterback Geno Smith didn’t guide a single pass attempt into the Milan Puskar Stadium turf on Saturday while leading 21 senior members of the West Virginia football team (7-5, 4-5) to a 59-10 rout of visiting Kansas (1-11, 0-9) in front of 51,112 spectators.
Smith, who finished 23-of-24 for 407 yards and three touchdowns, had his only incompletion fall into the hands of the Jayhawks for just his sixth interception of the season.
“He didn’t throw an incompletion today. Anytime you can throw for over 400 yards and not throw an incompletion, that’s pretty good,” said West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen. “Technically, the one incompletion was an interception. But he didn’t have a ball hit the ground all day, which is pretty impressive.”
Senior receiver Tavon Austin and junior receiver Stedman Bailey also ended the regular season in impressive fashion.
Bailey had 11 catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns, bringing him to 23 receiving touchdowns on the season – the national record for most in a single season among BCS schools.
Austin finished with 110 receiving yards and 77 yards on the ground, adding to his resume of being arguably the most versatile player in college football.
After the game, Austin and his fellow seniors shared their final moments on Mountaineer field with members of the West Virginia faithful.
“I felt a lot of love,” Austin said. “At the end of the day, I’m just glad I had the opportunity to come to West Virginia and be successful.”
Many seniors, including Smith, found their way into the crowd for the traditional postgame rendition of ‘Country Roads.’
“I was just happy that the 21 guys were able to experience that,” Holgorsen said. “These guys have been through coaching changes, they’ve been through conference changes and they’ve never said once ‘this is too hard’ or ‘this isn’t fair.’ … They’re here because they love it here and they’re a very tight group.”
Austin’s head coach was pleased with his team’s ability to overcome adversity in 2012 and finish on a high note.
“Thought we had a chance to play our best ball in game 12, and all three sides of the ball, I think we did that,” Holgorsen said. “I’m excited about the way we finished and they had a tremendous amount of fun out there.
“The only way these seniors are going to go out and top and have good memories is if they win their last game.”
Senior running back Shawne Alston was injured earlier in the season and contemplated applying for a medical redshirt, but instead opted to play through pain to end the season.
The victory for Alston was surreal.
“It means everything,” he said. The fans are the one the main reasons I choose to come to West Virginia University. Just to celebrate that win with them was a life-changing moment.”
The Mountaineers dominated nearly every statistical category against the Jayhawks on their way to the win.
But the true victory for many seniors was just the opportunity to play four years in the old Gold and Blue.
“Every opportunity to represent this university, my teammates and these coaches is just a blessing for me,” Smith said.