Column by MICKEY FURFARI
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
West Virginia did show some improvement in Saturday’s tough 39-38 double-overtime loss to TCU (6-3, 3-2 Big 12) at home.
But it wasn’t quite enough for the 23rd-ranked Mountaineers to avert a third straight setback in their first year of Big 12 football.
Ironically, WVU was favored to win all of these games, including Texas Tech and Kansas State.
Second-year head coach Dana Holgorsen admitted that this was a “first” in his career.
Most of the 52,300 chilled spectators were hopeful when Tavon Austin’s return of a punt 76 yards for a touchdown had settled the issue. It gave WVU a 31-24 lead with 3:19 left in regulation time.
But the Horned Frogs weren’t done yet. They rallied to catch up, then won in the second overtime period.
They hit a 94-yard pass to tie the score at 31-all. Then in the first OT both teams missed field goals. Each team scored in the second and TCU won by making a two-point conversion on a pass.
It had to be heart-wrenching for the Mountaineers (5-3, 2-3 Big 12). They just did not take advantage of their opportunities.
Holgorsen commented afterward, “Credit to TCU. It was a hard-fought game and TCU made more plays than we did on all three sides of the ball, coaches and players included.
TCU coach Gary Patterson said there was no doubt that he’d go for the two-pint conversion. “I’m one of the people who believe that when you play on the road, go and take ball games.”
And he certainly did that!
This was the first overtime game for WVU since Oct. 29, 2010. That was a 13-10 loss at Connecticut. It is the first time WVU has lost back-to-back games at home since 2001.
Those were against Temple 17-14 and Pitt 23-17.
Final statistics strongly suggest that West Virginia lacked consistency on both offense and defense as well as special teams.
While the Mountaineers had a 21-17 edge in first downs, they managed a mere 338 yards on 90 total offensive plays. TCU netted 405 yards from 75 plays.
Even more shocking was time of possession. The Horned Frogs had the ball 48:03 to the Mountaineers’ 26:57.
It seems mysterious what happened to that high-powered offense after the team’s sizzling 5-0 season’s start and No. 5 national ranking.
Rushing yards were 78 on 35 attempts from the home team and 126 yards on 45 carries from the visiting team. Passing yards were 260 to 279. Geno Smith was what Holgorsen said was probably as bad as he’s ever been, and the head coach took the blame. Smith completed 32 of 54 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns.
TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin completed 12 of 29 passes for 254 yards and two TDs.
Andrew Buie was WVU’s top rusher with a net 42 yards on 10 carries.
Austin caught a team-high 11 passes for 101 yards and one score. Josh Boyce was TCU’s leading receiver with six catches for 180 yards and two TDs.
Shaq Petteway had 10 tackles. Karl Joseph had nine to lead WVU defenders.