Column by MICKEY FURFARI
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
If you didn’t enjoy West Virginia’s 48-45 comeback conquest against favored Texas (4-1) of Saturday night, you can’t like hard-hitting Big 12 Conference football.
That’s the impression this TV viewer got before a record crowd of more than 101,000 spectators at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
It has to be one of the biggest, most significant Mountaineer wins away from home that I can recall. And it required a late rally for West Virginia (5-0) to lock up that triumph.
This was the No. 5–ranked Mountaineers’ first road win over a team ranked as high as 11th since they sealed a 1993 11-0 regular season by beating Boston College 17-14 at Chestnut Hill, Mass.
And, yes, it must be added to the growing list of all-time greatest West Virginia football wins.
It was one of this year’s most varied offenses, thanks to a rediscovered rushing attack to go with quarterback Geno Smith’s highly productive passing game.
He completed 25 of 35 passes for 286 yards and four touchdowns. These figures may be his lowest in five games, but they were adequate. Geno certainly was under heavy pressure all night.
Sharing stardom with Smith was sophomore Andrew Buie. He was the leading rusher with 31 carries for 207 yards and two touchdowns.
Why not toss in a well-deserved tribute to Dana Holgorsen, WVU’s second-year head coach? I thought he orchestrated a great game plan, and moved, in particular, the fourth quarter finishing touches.
The WVU defense also is deserving of credit for a fine performance. It tackled well at times and came up with some timely stops.
Mack Brown, Texas veteran head coach, thought, “We had an opportunity with seven minutes to go, but came up with three straight unsuccessful plays.”
“We knew we had to stop them, but didn’t,” he added.
West Virginia proceeded to regain the lead on Smith’s 6-yard touchdown pass. Texas came back with a score, but failed on an onside kick.
Offensively, the Mountaineers converted five times on fourth down plays in the game. And that certainly turned out to be crucial.
WVU’s offensive line performed well.
The Mountaineers ran the ball 41 times for a net of 193 yards. That likely is their season’s high, or close to it.
WVU finished with 461 yards in total offense. That total averages out to about six yards per play.
“I’m proud of the guys for how they played on all three sides of the ball,” Holgorsen said, “You can point to a lot of different things.
“But this is the fifth straight game that we didn’t turn the ball over.
“That’s probably No. 1.
“The defense came up with some big stops in key situations, and the special teams were tremendous.”
Holgorsen also thought it was one of the toughest environments in which a visiting team had to play.
WVU visits Texas Tech next Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. contest.