Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

December 2, 2012

Near perfect passer

WVU seniors go out with rout of Jayhawks

MORGANTOWN — Geno Smith got a mini-bath courtesy of teammate Brodrick Jenkins’ drinking cup after an impressive home finale at West Virginia, then led fans in the postgame tradition of singing John Denver’s “Country Roads.”

Smith threw for 407 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Mountaineers to a 59-10 win over Kansas on Saturday.

Smith completed 23 of 24 passes. His 95.8 completion percentage matched the single-game Bowl Subdivision record set by Tennessee’s Tee Martin against South Carolina in 1998.

“It’s about as good as it gets,” Smith said. “I really challenge myself every game to not throw any incompletions. Every play is critical and every down counts.”

Smith went over the 4,000-yard mark for the second straight season and became the first West Virginia quarterback to throw for 40 touchdowns.

“I’m proud of his accomplishments,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. “He’s a great kid. He’ll be remembered around here for that for a long, long time.”

West Virginia offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said he was unaware that Smith had tied Martin’s record and had he known, he would have left Smith in the game to get one more completion.

Smith had passing plays of 40 yards or more to four different receivers. Biletnikoff Award finalist Stedman Bailey had 159 receiving yards and two touchdown grabs to boost his Bowl Subdivision leading total to 23.

West Virginia (7-5, 4-5 Big 12) finished with 647 yards of offense. In its debut season in the Big 12, the Mountaineers finished tied for fifth place with Baylor, TCU and Texas Tech.

Now all that’s left is for West Virginia to find out Sunday where it will play in a bowl for the 11th straight season.

Kansas (1-11, 0-9) lost for the 11th straight time, the longest streak at the school since the Jayhawks lost 17 straight from 1953-55.  

Kansas was limited to 274 total yards against one of the nation’s worst defenses. Two Jayhawks quarterbacks combined to complete just 7 of 16 passes for 117 yards.

“You saw a gross mismatch out there and it didn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out whose players were exposing the other team’s players,” said Kansas coach Charlie Weis. “(West Virginia) played tough on defense, and they were dynamic on offense — just the way I expected them to be.”

The Mountaineers scored touchdowns on five of their six first-half possessions. Every touchdown was set up by plays of 31 yards or longer.

Andrew Buie, who rushed for 100 yards, had a 42-yard reception on a screen play set up Bailey’s second touchdown, an 18 yarder that put the Mountaineers ahead 45-7 midway through the third quarter.

Weis hoped to use a bye week to try to figure out a way to slow down Austin, but the Jayhawks had little luck.

Austin set up three first-half touchdowns with long plays. He had four catches for 110 yards, 77 rushing yards and a score and broke his own single-season school record for all-purpose yards.

Austin has 2,760 total yards this season, second in the FBS to Western Kentucky’s Antonio Andrews (2,977).

West Virginia surpassed 200 rushing yards for the third straight week since Austin was inserted into the backfield as well as playing his slot receiver spot. In the three games before that, the Mountaineers failed to reach 100 yards on the ground.

“When we get the ground game going, that alleviates the pressure for (Smith),” Holgorsen said. “Us being able to run the ball makes his stats look a whole lot better.”

Kansas junior James Sims had 57 yards to finish with 1,013 for the season, becoming the first 1,000-yard rusher for the Jayhawks since Brandon McAnderson in 2007.

Kansas quarterback Dayne Crist got his first start since Oct. 13, a span of six games. He threw a 41-yard pass to Andrew Turzilli on Kansas’ second drive that put the Jayhawks inside the West Virginia 20. But two penalties pushed the ball back and West Virginia’s Karl Joseph intercepted a tipped pass on third-and-18 to halt the threat.

Crist lasted just two series before Michael Cummings relieved him. Cummings found some success on the option read and led the Jayhawks to their only touchdown in the second quarter. Cummings and Christian Matthews took snaps in the second half.

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