AUSTIN — Â West Virginia has been riding the arm of Geno Smith for the better part of his career. Tonight the Mountaineers instead rode the legs of back-up running back Andrew Buie, as his 207 yards and two touchdowns catapulted the new Big12 member’s West Virginia squad to a 48-45 victory over the Texas Longhorns Saturday night at DKR Memorial Stadium.
Smith had a nice night himself with 268 yards passing, completing 71% of his passes, and four touchdowns, none bigger than the 6-yard strike to Stedman Bailey at the beginning of the fourth quarter, giving West Virginia a 41-38 lead. They converted two fourth-downs on that drive, and was 5-for-5 on the night which absolutely crippled the Texas defense.
And there was Joe Bergeron. The Texas bruising tailback led the Longhorns with 45 yards rushing and four touchdowns, his last coming with :29 seconds left in the third quarter giving Texas a 38-34 lead. He and fellow stud Johnathan Gray dominated that drive as Gray went “WildHorn” for four straight plays. Gray continues to show the feet and vision that makes Texas’ fans mouth water, finishing with a team-high 87 yards.
The game took a unique turn in the second quarter when West Virginia safety Karl Joseph absolutely smacked Texas wideout Marquis Goodwin off a WR-screen. It seemed to give the Texas bunch a jolt, even though Goodwin fumbled, and West Virginia recovered. Smith & company had the ball, the lead (21-7), and all the energy.
But the Longhorns (4-1, 1-1) front seven woke up. After forcing West Virginia to punt, cornerback Carrington Byndom partially blocked the punt, giving Texas the ball at midfield. On the very next play, Gray took the carry 49 yards, to the 1-yard line. Bergeron politely scored on the next play bringing the Horns within seven, 21-14 in the second quarter.
Then the Texas defense struck again. After a few tackles for loss, Alex Okafor swiped the ball out of Smith’s hands on a pass rush, where Jackson Jeffcoat picked up and feel in the end zone for a defensive score and a brand new ball game, 21-21.
West Virginia (5-0, 2-0) opened up the game with a Smith pitch-and-catch touchdown to Bailey in less than two minutes giving the Mountaineers the early lead, 7-0. Bailey finished with 75 yards, on eight grabs, and three scores.
Bergeron and Texas answered with a nice start of their own. Quarterback David Ash hit freshman tailback Daje Johnson for a 48-yard completion and conversion on third-down, with Bergeron punching it in from two yards out, making it 7-7. Â Ash, the No. 2-rate passer in the nation behind Smith, was 22 of 29 for 269 yards and one touchdown.
After a Texas blocked field goal attempt, West Virginia got the ball back and went 65 yards, when Smith hit Tavon Austin with a 40-yard touchdown pass. However, the play before Â Texas had sacked Smith on a critical fourth down, but Texas coach Mack Brown had called a timeout from the sidelines just a second before the ball was snapped. Bad timing to say the least. West Virginia up 14-7 at that point.
The multi-electric Austin finished with 252 total yards and a score.
A Buie 4-yard scamper made it 21-7, in a drive that had Smith converting two more fourth-downs. The fourth-down conversions were the ultimate demise of the Longhorns. There’s no way possible to hold an offense as explosive and high-octane as West Virginia’s when their Heisman-worthy quarterback gets four tries at 10 yards every play. Not happening.
Bergeron scored his third touchdown of the night, a 1-yard dive, that gave Texas its first lead of the game, 28-24. That was setup by Ash’s pinpoint passing, and exploiting the mismatches at tight-end, where DJ Grant and MJ McFarland both snagged third-down converting catches.
A couple Tyler Bitancurt field goals in the second quarter, a 37-yard and 41-yard made it 28-27 at halftime.
Texas came out the second half with a methodical, time-consuming, offensive-line push developing drive that spanned seven mintues, and was finished with a Anthony Fera 38-yard field goal,and a 31-27 advantage. Senior running back Jeremy Hills had two huge third-down converting catches off screens, and continues to find a role in this offense.
Smith took it upon himself with the ensuing drive, hitting Bailey with a 9-yard touchdown strike. Smith looked very smooth , and unrattled taking his team down the field with a balance of 10-yard Outs and Buie running between the tackles. It also gave West Virginia a 34-31 lead and plenty of confidence for the second half.
The final dagger was a Buie 5-yard touchdown run off a 8-play, 76 yard drive, giving West Virginia a 48-38 lead, and their programs biggest win in years.
Texas never quit when Ash hit Goodwin with a 12-yard scoring toss, bringing it to 48-45, but the Longhorns couldn’t snag the onside kick.
Texas has a week to regroup and prepare for Oklahoma as next Saturday’s Red River Shootout will take place at the State Fair in Dallas.