Bitancurt hits field goal as time expires to beat South Florida, 30-27
Published: Thursday, December 1, 2011
Updated: Friday, December 2, 2011 04:12
Tyler Bitancurt hit a 28-yard field goal as time expired in Thursday night's game against South Florida to give No. 23 West Virginia a share of the Big East Conference championship.
The victory also keeps the Mountaineer's BCS hopes alive. West Virginia will now look for a Cincinnati win against Connecticut on Saturday to secure the spot.
The 30-27 win was the third in a row for the Mountaineers, but was not without drama in the final 10 minutes.
"We had some setbacks and parts where we could have folded the tank, we could have just went through the motions, but those guys didn't do it," said West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen. "It has a lot to do with the 22 seniors and a bunch of kids who like to play and a bunch of kids who like to be around each other. Everybody pulled together and got everybody through it."
Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Stedman Bailey caught a crucial 26-yard pass on fourth-and-10 with six seconds to play in the game.
Bailey was so tired, he did not get up off of the ground, and junior running back Shawne Alston ran to pick him up to get him lined up so WVU could spike the ball.
Luckily, Alston got to Bailey in time, and the team had enough time to spike the ball and stop the clock – with three seconds left – to kick the game-winning field goal.
"I knew we had to hurry up and spike the ball, so I just tried to get him up off the ground because I knew we didn't have any more timeouts left," Alston said. "I didn't think he realized what was going on, at first, because he was holding his shoulder ... I finally got him up."
Bailey finished the game with seven catches for 80 yards.
"They were triple covering him and trying to double cover Tavon (Austin)," said West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. "It was basically a pick … Luckily, we just made a play at the end, and it turned out for the best."
struggled on offense for much of the game and did not score an offensive touchdown until halfway through the third quarter.
WVU was outgained in total yards by South Florida, 397-364 at the time of possession.
But, thanks to the team's big plays on special teams and defense, WVU was able to stay in the game and make a comeback.
On third-and-9, USF junior quarterback B.J. Daniels threw a pass intended for Evan Landi, but West Virginia junior cornerback Pat Miller intercepted the pass and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown to put the Mountaineers ahead 10-0 with 8:20 to go in the second quarter.
Junior receiver and return man Tavon Austin made a big play for West Virginia in the third quarter, returning a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown to put the Mountaineers ahead 13-10.
Bitancurt was not worried before making the game-winning kick. And, after he made it, he ran aimlessly around the field, enjoying the win.
"It felt so good. Such a relief," he said. "Our team did such a great job to come back."
There were many times in that game where we could have just quit and packed up and went home, but we didn't. We knew what was on the line."
West Virginia converted just two third-down plays, but went 3-for-3 on fourth-down conversions.
"We rose to the occasion," Smith said. "We needed this win, and we knew how important it was for us and these seniors."