Oklahoma hands WVU fifth-straight loss, 50-49
Published: Sunday, November 18, 2012
Updated: Sunday, November 18, 2012 00:11
Sooner or later, West Virginia knew its unexpected losing streak would come to an end.
And, with a five-point lead with less than 30 seconds remaining, it appeared the Mountaineers had cracked the code.
But a fourth-down conversion late in the fourth quarter gave No. 12 Oklahoma a stunning 50-49 road victory over West Virginia Saturday night.
The Sooners (8-2, 6-1 Big 12 Conference) trailed 43-38 with 4:11 to play and 49-44 with :25 remaining in front of 50,238 at Milan Puskar Stadium, but were able to overcome the two deficits and 344 rushing yards from Mountaineer (5-5, 2-5) senior inside receiver Tavon Austin to come away with the win.
“They made one more play than we did,” said West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen. “The kids played hard. How many losses like this do we have to go through?”
Holgorsen, who approached Austin about making the move to running back last week, wasn’t surprised by school-record for rushing yards in a single game by his senior leader.
“He is a tremendous football player and was the best player on the field,” Holgorsen said. “It probably should have been done four years ago … We haven’t been able to run the ball, so we had to do something.”
The sudden production in the running game forced the Sooners to honor the run, ultimately aiding senior quarterback Geno Smith to a 320-yard passing performance accompanied by four passing touchdowns.
Oklahoma had only allowed three passing touchdowns all season coming into the game.
The balance offensively also gave the Mountaineers 778 total yards – the second most in school history.
Austin also added 82 yards receiving and was just six yards short of the NCAA record for most all-purpose yards in a single game.
The West Virginia defense, though, allowed 50 points for the third time in the last four games.
“These kids have been through a lot,” said West Virginia defensive coordinator Joe DeForest. “They worked their tail off. They’ve never given up. They’ve pulled together. And it’s hard to come back from losses, especially the last three weeks, when we could have won the game.”
The West Virginia defense is now giving up more than 41 points per game to Big 12 Conference opponents this season.
Much of the Sooners’ success came on third down, where the visitors converted on 9-of-15 attempts.
“The worst thing we did today was third down,” DeForest said. “We didn’t get off the field when we should have. We played very good on first and second down.
Junior wide receiver Stedman Bailey had 13 catches for 205 yards and four touchdowns.
West Virginia will have to a short week to prepare for a road matchup with Iowa State the day after Thanksgiving.