No. 4 West Virginia holds off No. 15 Longhorns in 48-45 shootout on the road

By Cody Schuler

No. 4 West Virginia holds off No. 15 Longhorns in 48-45 shootout on the road

West Virginia sophomore running back Andrew Buie carried the football 31 times for 224 yards and two touchdowns, powering No. 4 West Virginia (5-0, 2-0) past No.15 Texas (4-1, 1-1) 48-45.

A stadium record 101,851 people watched as West Virginia, playing in its first road game as a member of the Big 12 Conference, willed its way to a win despite trailing in the fourth quarter in what figures to be the most hostile environment the Mountaineers will face all season.

West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen said his team’s balanced effort on offense, defense and special teams allowed the Mountaineers to claim their first road victory over a top-15 team since they defeated Boston College on Nov. 26, 1993.

“I’m really proud of the guys; I’m proud of the way they fought on all three sides of the ball,” he said. “It was a tremendous team victory.

“Defense came up with some big stops in key situations, (and) I thought they showed a lot of improvement. I thought special teams was tremendous,” he said.

Senior kicker Tyler Bitancurt had his first field goal attempt blocked, but he connected on tries of 37 and 41 yards in the second quarter.

The game featured four lead changes, the last of which came when redshirt junior wide receiver Stedman Bailey snatched a 6-yard strike from senior quarterback Geno Smith to put the Mountaineers ahead 41-38 with less than 11 minutes left in the game.

Smith connected on 25 of 35 passes for 268 yards and four touchdowns. Dating back to the Orange Bowl, Smith has now thrown 30 touchdowns to zero interceptions – and has thrown 259 straight passes without an interception.

Bailey led the Mountaineers in touchdowns, grabbing three on an eight catch, 75-yard effort. His season total of 13 touchdown receptions sets a new single-season program record.

Senior wide receiver Tavon Austin led all receivers with 10 catches and finished with 102 receiving yards and one touchdown. Austin also tallied 111 yards on kick returns.

West Virginia went 5-for-5 on fourth down tries in the game – something Smith said was a result of Holgorsen trusting the offense to move the chains.

“It’s how we play: we play as a team, (and) we fight
as a team,” he said. “No matter what it takes to win the game, that’s what we’re going to do.

“Coach did a great job managing the situations. He kept us out there on the field and trusted us to get the first downs.”

With senior running back Shawne Alston missing the game due to an injury and so much emphasis on West Virginia’s high-powered passing attack, many did not expect the Mountaineer offense to achieve the level of success it did on the ground.

For Holgorsen, Buie’s play was nothing short of fantastic.

“(Buie) averaged 6.7 yards per run, and that’s phenomenal. What is surprising for me is to see him carry it 31 times,” he said.

“We did commit to the run; that was something we talked about earlier in the week, and there weren’t any tricks, either. We just lined up and ran right at them.”

Texas head coach Mack Brown congratulated West Virginia after the win and said the fan turnout was one of the best he’d ever seen.

“I want to really thank our fans. I thought they did a tremendous job. That is by far the loudest and longest I’ve heard them yell since I have been here in my 15 years,” he said.

“Also, I want to congratulate West Virginia. They’ve got a really good football team.”

Texas fell behind 21-7 in the early going, and it appeared West Virginia was on its way to another rout.

The Longhorns, though, battled back and grabbed a 28-27 lead behind two rushing touchdowns from sophomore running back Joe Bergeron and a fumble recovery in the end zone by junior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat.

Bergeron finished the game with 14 carries for 49 yards and four touchdowns.

Texas sophomore quarterback David Ash tossed for 269 yards and a touchdown on 22 of 29 passing attempts. Ash connected with senior wide receiver Marquise Goodwin for an eight-yard touchdown with less than a minute to play, but West Virginia recovered the subsequent onside kick attempt – sealing the victory.

Read more here:
Copyright 2019 The Daily Athenaeum