By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
It was big play Saturday. Oklahoma made the biggest play when it mattered most.
Landry Jones threw for a school record 554 yards and six touchdowns, including a 5-yard strike to Kenny Stills with 24 seconds left on the clock, and No. 12 Oklahoma survived its first-ever visit trip to Milan-Puskar Stadium with a 50-49 Big 12 victory over West Virginia.
“They made one more play than we did,” West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “The kids played hard. Losses like this are hard to go through. We have two more games, we have to go out there and get to work and hope to get a couple of wins.
“A tough loss, we have got to regroup.”
A below capacity audience of 50,238 witnessed a thrilling, four-plus hour affair, with the teams accounting for 1,440 combined yards, and nearly 50 plays of at least 10 yards or more.
West Virginia (5-5, 2-5) dropped its fifth straight game, its longest losing streak since 1986.
Other than a 10-10 tie in the opening quarter, the Sooners led the entire game until Geno Smith connected with Stedman Bailey on an 8-yard completion for the 43-38 lead with 7:12 left in the game.
Not a problem, as Oklahoma drove the ball downfield, competing a 7-yard scoring toss to Stills for a 44-43 lead. West Virginia came right back, with Tavon Austin continuing a record-breaking night with a 47 yard run, leading to a 3-yard toss from Smith to Bailey in the left corner of the end zone for the 49-44 with 2:53 on the clock.
Turns out that was too much time. Brennan Clay returned the ensuing kick 46 yards, and Jones was able to connect with Justin Brown on passes of 36 and 10 yards to move the ball to the 4. West Virginia was able to hold the Sooners out of the end zone, forcing a 4th-and-1 with 27 seconds on the clock.
Jones was then able to complete a five-yard pass in the end zone to Stills, who slipped in front of Ismael Banks, for the winning score and the 50-49 final margin.
West Virginia got the ball back, driving the ball to the 49, but Smith’s desperation pass as time expired was knocked to the ground by Oklahoma’s Jason Harris near the end zone.
It was a night of records for the two teams, which combined for 1,440 yards, 62 first downs and 14 touchdowns.
Jones was 38-of-51 for 554 yards and six scores. Stills had 10 receptions for 91 yards and four touchdowns from 4, 11, 7 and 5 yards. Jalen Saunders (7-123, 1 td), Brown (6-112) and Damien Williams (6-71) were also targets for Jones. Williams ran for 92 yards and a 48-yard touchdown run.
Jones became one of three quarterbacks in NCAA history to compile four 3,000 yard seasons, and also moved into the top five in all-purpose yards for his career.
Austin set a Big 12 record with 572 yards all-purpose yards, including 334 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. He also had four receptions for 82 yards and added 146 yards in kick return yardage.
Smith was 20-of-35 for 320 yards and four scores. Bailey had 13 receptions for 205 yards and four touchdowns from 33, 4, 8 and 40 yards.
Oklahoma (8-2, 6-1), whose only losses this season have been to Kansas State and Notre Dame, scored 21 seconds quarter points to take a 31-17 at the break. West Virginia was able to narrow the margin to 38-36 in the fourth quarter, but fell short on the two-point conversion.
The fourth quarter featured four lead changes in less than seven minutes.
West Virginia had 778 yards on offense, while the Sooners had 662. The teams were a combined 11-of-13 scoring inside the 20-yard line.
Oklahoma took a 10-0 lead in the opening quarter on a 8-yard pass by Jones to Trey Millard and a 32-yard field goal by Mike Hunnicutt following an interception of Smith by Aaron Colvin. West Virginia answered with 10 of their own on a 19-yard field goal by Tyler Bitencurt and a 1-yard scoring run by Andrew Buie.
The Sooners built the lead back to 24-10 on a 76-yard scoring pass by Jones to Saunders and a 4-yard pass to Stills. Bailey followed by snaring a 33-yard touchown pass from Smith, but Williams followed with a 48-yard run for the 31-17 lead at the break.
West Virginia quickly narrowed the margin by seven points on a 74-yard run by Austin. Oklahoma answered with an 11-yard pass to Stills from Jones, but Austin struck again, running 4 yards for the touchdown to cut the margin to 38-30 with 5:46 left in the third quarter.
However, Bitencurt missed the extra point, which proved to be the difference in the one-point loss.
An interception by Brodrick Jenkins at the West Virginia 3, was followed by Smith completing passes of 35, 33, 24 and 4 yards on consecutive plays to Bailey to narrow the margin to 38-36. The attempt for two failed, setting up the thrilling four scores in six minutes in the final quarter.
Tony Jefferson led Oklahoma with 12 tackles, while Darwin Cook and Karl Joseph had 10 apiece for the Mountaineers.
West Virginia, which still needs one win to become bowl eligible, will travel to Iowa State on Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m.
— Contact Brian Woodson at email@example.com