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December 1, 2012
After two months of trials and disappointment for the West Virginia football team, the Mountaineers closed out their season on top with a blowout win over the Kansas Jayhawks in Morgantown Saturday.
The much-lauded West Virginia offense of 2012 made its presence known early in the contest, opening up with a 45-yard Stedman Bailey reception from Geno Smith. The large gain set the Mountaineers up in excellent field position at the Kansas 23.
Seven plays later, sophomore Andrew Buie would take a hand-off from two-yards out into the endzone for the West Virginia touchdown. With only 2:46 off the clock, the Mountaineers took the early 7-0 lead.
After the early West Virginia touchdown, the Jayhawks attempted to reciprocate with a passing game of their own. However, it would be all for naught early, as the 113th ranked Kansas passing offense was unable to connect with open receivers on two occasions in their opening drive, punting the ball back to the Mountaineers.
West Virginia would start the ensuing drive at their own 29-yard line and quickly move the ball to midfield.
But a pass rush off the left side would pressure quarterback Geno Smith into a bad pass, throwing off target to Kansas cornerback Tyler Patmon for the Jayhawk interception at their own 43-yard line.
The Jayhawks would find offensive success early on their second drive, with quarterback Dayne Crist hitting receiver Andrew Turzill for a 41-yard gain deep into West Virginia territory.
However, as has been the case with Kansas for much of the season, the Jayhawks would shoot themselves in the foot on the following two plays, with offensive penalties pushing them to a third-and-18 situation.
In an attempt to make something out of nothing, Crist would throw to the endzone from the West Virginia 24-yard line, but the short pass would drop into Karl Joseph's hands. The freshman would return the interception to the 23-yard line where the Mountaineers would being their third drive of the contest.
And what a third drive it was. The highly-touted West Virginia offense delivered on its ensuing possession with Smith hitting senior J.D. Woods for a huge 50-yard gain on second and long to the Kansas 30-yard line.
A 20-yard reception from Tavon Austin would set the Mountaineers up deep in the redzone, where Shawne Alston would finish the job. The senior punched the ball in from two-yards out to extend West Virginia's lead, 14-0.
After an efficient Jayhawk offensive drive, pushing the ball into West Virginia territory, the Kansas offense failed to convert on a fourth-and-short situation. The Mountaineers would receive the ball at their own 39-yard line.
From there, the Mountaineers would have one of their most efficient drives of the year, going 61-yard in five plays for the touchdown.
The drive began with a 31-yard run by Austin, followed shortly by a 19-yard reception by Bailey. They dynamic duo would continue to carry the load for the Mountaineers on the drive, ending with a yard bubble screen to Bailey for the West Virginia touchdown. The score extending the West Virginia lead, 21-0.
Kansas would bounce back, going on a methodical 80-yard drive in just over for minutes, ending with a one-yard touchdown run from running back James Simms. The drive, highlighted by a controversial 42-yard reception by Tony Pierson into West Virginia territory, proved to be Kansas' first sign of life as they closed the deficit, 21-7.
But that gap would not remain at 14 for long. Highlighted by yet another strong drive from Austin and Bailey, the Mountaineers would push the ball 74-yards in eight plays, ending in a two-yard touchdown run by Alston. The score would push the Kansas deficit back to three scores at 28-7.
After a quick three-and-out for the West Virginia defense, Smith his troops would regain control of the field with 2:35 remaining in the half.
And it would only take 2:11 to score again. An eight-yard touchdown reception by senior J.D. Woods, in his last career appearance at Mountaineer Field, extended the West Virginia lead - 35-7 - as the half came to a close.
The Jayhawks would receive the ball to begin the second half and attempted to create some momentum to open up. But with the West Virginia defense countering their every move, the Jayhawks lined up the offense on fourth-and-one at their own 34-yard line.
The attempt, however, would be aborted after, in classic Kansas football fashion, the Jayhawks were called for a false start, pushing the ball out of reasonable range for a conversion and forcing the punt.
On the ensuing possession, West Virginia would put together its longest drive of the day in terms of plays ran.
Starting at their own 25-yard line, the Mountaineers slowly move the ball down the field to the Kansas 13-yard line in 10 plays.
However, the Jayhawk defense stepped up for its first big stop of the day, halting West Virginia's momentum at the 13 to force a 30-yard Tyler Bitancurt field goal. The kick would extend the Mountaineers' lead to 31 - 38-7.
After another three-and-out for the Kansas offense, the Mountaineers would receive the ball off a Jawhawk's punt at their own 36-yard line.
From there, the Mountaineers would continue the offensive onslaught. It only took West Virginia three plays to push the ball 74-yards, ending with a 16-yard touchdown reception by Stedman Bailey, his 23rd of the season. The score extended West Virginia's lead - 45-7.
Another defensive stop for the Mountaineers put the ball back in the offense's hand with just under four minutes remaining in the third quarter.
But it would only take West Virginia's offense 2:23 to drive 82-yards, thanks in part to the effort of Tavon Austin. The senior would carry the ball three times on the drive, for 33-yards, ending with a one-yard touchdown run to further the Mountaineers' lead - 52-7.
The Jayhawks would show some fight, driving 43-yards in 11 plays. But Kansas was unable to make much out of the series, ending with a field goal to close the gap by three.
West Virginia would add another touchdown, thanks to a 26-yard scamper by Dustin Garrison, his second score of the season.
With just over five minutes remaining after Garrison touchdown,, both teams traded possessions until the Mountaineers ran out the clock.
Final score: West Virginia 59, Kansas 10.
The Mountaineers were led in the winning effort by senior Geno Smith. In his final appearance at Mountaineer Field, Smith broke the school record for consecutive completions, hitting 21-straight passes, en route to a 23 of 24, 407 yards and three touchdown performance.
Fellow senior Tavon Austin also had a big day, recording 187 all-purpose yards and one touchdown.
Stedman Bailey lead the team in receiving with 11 catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns, while Andrew Buie recorded his second triple-digit rushing performance of the year, carrying the ball 12 times for 100 yards and a touchdown.
The Mountaineers will play again later this month in a bowl game. The destination should be announced within the next 24 hours.
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