By DAVE MORRISON
for the Daily Telegraph
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. —
Darwin Cook couldn’t resist the temptation. Either that or it was a well-timed highlight reel act.
After he picked up Clemson running back Andre Ellington’s fumble at the one and returned it 99 yards for a touchdown — highlight material on its own — Cook added a little extra to the end.
When he ran out of the end zone he reached out with his left arm and took down Obie the Orange, the official Orange Bowl mascot, who was standing in the back of the end zone.
“Obie doubted us too, so I had to tackle him,” Cook said.
In the end, there was no doubt about who the better team was, as the Mountaineers put up 589 total yards of offense and put up 10 offensive scores in a record-setting 70-33 win on the Orange Bowl Wednesday night at Sun Life Stadium.
But it was Cook’s play and touchdown that changed the game.
Down 21-17, Clemson was primed to retake the lead from the WVU one.
Ellington headed into a scrum at the goal line, and at least two Clemson players thought he scored, signaling a touchdown.
However, Smith came out of the pile with the ball and took off, slyly at first, the other way.
It wasn’t really a race.
Instead of Clemson getting the lead back, WVU went up 28-17.
And it was never close again.
“I saw the ball, and I was thinking, ‘Is it loose?’” Cook said. “I knew there was a pile so he wasn’t on the ground. So I just scooped it up. Actually, I kind of grabbed the ball and tucked it. Then walked two steps. I didn’t think anybody saw me. Then I just took off.”
In a game of offensive standouts, it was the game changer.
“It changed the game,” defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel said. “They more or less had a chance to take the lead with a touchdown and we end up getting a touchdown. Those are hard to come back from.”
“I think that took the heart right out of them,” defensive end Bruce Irvin said. “Darwin Cook made a heads-up play. He might have been the only one in the stadium who knew the ball came out. It was a great play and we needed that. It took the life right out of them.”
Cook said the Mountaineers had a different mindset entering Wednesday’s game, where they were prohibitive underdogs to the ACC champions.
“We talked about once you hit them they fall,” Cook said. “That’s why we came out with a more aggressive attitude today. When you hit them, make it so they really don’t want to get back up.”
Of course, he was about spent after the run. At least momentarily.
“Yeah, I got the tight booty,” Cook said. “You ever run the 400-meter dash? When you get the tight booty at the 100 (meter mark) it’s terrible.”
When finally informed that Obie the orange was actually a girl, Cook laughed.
“I apologized to her later on,” he said noting it was more or less an accident and not an assault on the mascot.
But his touchdown, that was no mistake. It turned the tide and helped give the Mountaineers a 3-0 mark in BCS bowl games.