By JOHN RABY, AP Sports Writer
Another second-half meltdown has left West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen with plenty of questions and much disgust heading into the offseason.
The Mountaineers built a 24-point early lead Saturday against Iowa State, only to watch the Cyclones chip away after halftime and eventually win 52-44 in triple overtime.
It marked the fourth time in six games that West Virginia let a second-half lead slip away.
“We played with effort,” Holgorsen said. “I felt we tried. I felt we cared. We went out there and just didn’t finish the game.”
The Mountaineers wasted a solid effort from Charles Sims, whose 149 rushing yards pushed his final total for the season to 1,095.
“I just wished we would have won the game,” Sims said.
Instead, Iowa State redshirt freshman Grant Rohach forced overtime with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Justin Coleman in the final minute of regulation. The pair then combined on a 25-yard scoring toss in the third overtime for the go-ahead score.
Rohach turned in a heroic performance after throwing an interception deep in Iowa State territory in the first quarter that led to a West Virginia touchdown. Safety Karl Joseph also returned an Iowa State fumble 38 yards for a score in the quarter.
The Mountaineers (4-8, 2-7) led 31-7 after Sims scored on a 76-yard run early in the second quarter but committed four turnovers of their own after halftime and ended the year with six losses in their final seven games.
West Virginia squandered several chances to score, failing to convert a fourth down and missing a field-goal try on two drives inside Iowa State territory in regulation.
After West Virginia’s Avery Williams blocked a short field-goal try in the third quarter, Washington recovered a fumble by the Mountaineers’ Wendell Smallwood at the Iowa State 1 a few plays later.
West Virginia’s Vernon Davis also fumbled at his own 38 in the third quarter and Iowa State recovered, leading to a Cyclones field goal.
“A disappointing end to a disappointing season,” Holgorsen said. “The bottom line, you can’t turn the ball over like we did.”