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November 23, 2012

Mountaineers survive Cyclone, 31-24

Tavon Austin totaled 173 offensive yards on 20 touches, including the 75-yard deciding score, as West Virginia snapped a five-game losing streak at Iowa State, 31-24.

The victory was the first in 48 days for the Mountaineers (6-5 overall; 3-5 Big XII).

Geno Smith's 75-yard chest pass to Austin gave the Mountaineers a 29-24 lead with 6:31 remaining in the fourth quarter. The play was the first effort after Edwin Arceo's 49-yard field goal provided a 24-23 advantage.

Austin traversed in motion from right flank to under right guard. Smith familiarly snapped and tapped the ball forward to a sprinting Austin.

Austin would circle around the left tackle and find a seam led by Stedman Bailey. Austin set-up the block by heading directly to the left sideline and sprinted untouched to the end zone.

That pass would be Smith's last of the day, a 22-for-31 performance totaling 236 yards and two touchdowns. Austin finished with six receptions for 99 yards, with the other 74 yards coming on 14 rushes.

The two-point conversation was next. Austin lined up in the backfield with the right side stacked heavy; left tackle Quinton Spain remained uncovered. Smith tossed a sweep to Austin, who daintily bided time before diving in for a 31-24 lead.

Iowa State (6-6 overall; 3-6 Big XII) had a chance, but West Virginia's defense was poised to match the offense. The Cyclones' Jarvis West was stuffed for a two-yard gain before Sam Richardson misfired for incompletion No. 16.

Richardson scrambled left on third down after solid Mountaineer coverage, mustering two yards. But Josh Francis yanked at Richardson's facemask as he rested on the turf, providing 15 yards and a set of downs to the home team.

Richardson sandwiched runs of five and 14 yards between a Shontrelle Johnson 13-yard scamper to push Iowa State to the 14. Richardson appeared to connect with Josh Lenz on sideline wheel past Pat Miller, but the receiver could neither maintain possession nor keep his feet in-bounds.

Richardson's final incompletion was a bouncer to Johnson on second down, capping a 13-for-31 day. Richardson passed for 162 yards and three touchdowns, but also amassed 119 yards rushing (over half of Iowa State's 234 ground yards) on 18 carries.

Third down yielded another incompletion, but Will Clarke forced his hands into the opposing tackle's facemask, another personal foul. Short-yardage back Jeff Woody entered, looking to punch in the tying score from the 4.

Darwin Cook had other ideas, pinpointing his helmet on the rusher's carrying arm. The ball popped forward, and Karl Joseph recovered in the end zone with 3:55 remaining.

Austin rushed for 14 before the game's other star took over. Shawne Alston gained 130 yards on 19 carries, plus a score, obviously slowed when cutting but displaying a decisive burst at handoff that West Virginia has missed since his injury.

Alston gained five, then two, then three more for a first down. Alston added another two before Austin's 10-yard rush allowed the Mountaineers to kneel.

**********
FINAL STATS

+ Total Yards: ISU-396 (162 passing, 234 rushing), WVU-475 (236 passing, 239 rushing)

+ Plays Attempted/Average Yards: ISU-77/5.14, WVU-72/6.60

+ First Downs: ISU-24, WVU-24

+ Completions/Attempts (%): ISU-13/31 (41.94), WVU-22/31 (70.97)

+ Turnovers: ISU-1, WVU-0

+ Time of Possession: ISU-28:26, WVU-31:34

+ Penalties: ISU-5/43, WVU-11/107

+ Score: WVU-31, ISU-24

*********

West Virginia began the game forcing ISU into a three-and-out. But the offense appeared to be stagnant again.

Smith ran a perfect play-action post to J.D. Woods on first down. The receiver reached then stumbled, failing to grasp the too-far-led throw as two defenders chased behind.

Smith connected with Stedman Bailey for five yards next, the first of seven completions for 82 yards between the schoolboy duo. Alston picked up the first down on his first carry, a ten-yard rumbler.

Austin ran for three before Smith scrambled into wide-open space for a 17-yard gain to the 32-yard line. But two false starts by Quinton Spain created a 1st-and-20.

An incompletion to Bailey previewed a 17-yard rush by Austin. The same single-back trips set that ravaged Oklahoma hurt the team in Ames, as Austin cut up the middle then weaved perpendicular right to the sideline before stepping out three yards short.

Smith and Bailey appeared to miscommunicate on third down, however, as the quick hitter sailed high over Bailey's head. Tyler Bitancurt made his first of three field goals, a 42-yarder, for the game's first margin.

Iowa State stalled out on the West Virginia 45 before pinning Austin at the 9.

Alston founds a seal between guard Jeff Braun and center Joe Madsen for 13 yards before Bailey and Smith can't convert on their third consecutive pass. Austin gained six before seven consecutive positive plays pushed the Mountaineers to 1st-and-10 at the 27.

A run left by Austin blew up for a three-yard loss after a Smith pass bounced off a diving J.D. Woods' shoulder pads on first down. Woods caught the third-down pass, but for just one yard. The senior finished with six catches for 43 yards.

Bitancurt's 46-yard attempt was immediately wobbly, fluttering leftward before clanging off the inside of the left goal post and back into the end zone. No good.

**********
FIRST QUARTER

+ First Downs: ISU-3, WVU-7

+ Total Yards: ISU-63, WVU-114

+ Rushing Attempts/Yards: ISU-10/43, WVU-9/78

+ Time of Possession: ISU-6:16, WVU-8:44

+ Score: WVU-3, ISU-0

*********

Iowa State again pushed downfield before three consecutive rushes netted five yards and a 4th-and-5 from the 30. This time it was Arceo who drew iron, as his 47-yarder drew right upright.

The miss catalyzed the Mountaineers. Smith nailed Bailey on a wheel route before the receiver's evasiveness tangled his own feet for a 27-yard gain.

Alston snapped up the middle next, rolling rightward as he noticeably limped for 15 yards. Smith again targeted Bailey next, this time a 23-yard cut-post to the 5 yard-line. Alston gained four, then the final one for the game's first touchdown and a 10-point lead.

Iowa State got to West Virginia territory before appearing to stall again. Sam Richardson scrambled yet again, however, and Shaq Petteway hit his target late. That turned a 10-yard gain into a 25-yarder, and a first down at the fifteen.

Richardson rushed left again, eluding tacklers for seven yards as West Virginia called timeout.

After the stoppage, Richardson threw behind target Jerome Tiller on a slant, allowing Ricky Rumph to dive and knock the ball out. Richardson went back to the well on third down, however, as a Tiller slant-fake prompted Rumph to jump forward and inside. Tiller weaved outside for a wide open target.

Richardson obliged, and the score was 10-7, West Virginia.

The Mountaineers came out rushing, totaling 40 yards on four attempts, the first two by Alston and two more by Buie. Smith hit Woods for 10, Alston gained six, and then Smith found Austin for three more. A six-yard out to Bailey capped an 8-play, 70-yard drive that lost no yards and had no incompletions.

The teams traded three-and-out punts before Iowa State reclaimed possession with 1:32 remaining. Richardson, ever inconsistent, completed 3-of-7 passes for 32 yards before facing a 4th-and-6. Richardson, facing eight-man coverage, sprinted into the middle of the field, with Karl Joseph's shoe-string tackle saving a touchdown on the 21-yard rush.

Next, Richardson found Lenz on an 18-yard wheel-route to create a three-point deficit heading into halftime. Terrell Chestnut appeared to believe he had over-head coverage from Darwin Cook after the play.

**********
FIRST HALF

+ Total Yards: ISU-211 (105 passing, 106 rushing), WVU-271 (105 passing, 166 rushing)

+ Plays Attempted/Average Yards: ISU-39/5.4, WVU-37/7.3

+ Yards per Rush: ISU-4.8, WVU-7.9

+ Third-Down Conversions: ISU-5/10, WVU-2/5

+ Penalties: ISU-4/30, WVU-6/60

+ Score: WVU-17, ISU-14

*********

West Virginia opened the third quarter with possession, converting their first three third downs. Alston bulled for three on 3rd-and-2.

The running back spurred a 3rd-and-5 conversion to Connor Arlia, rolling out of the flat and chopping a zoning linebacker to create space for Arlia on his drag cross.

Austin eluded on the next 3rd-and-2, turning a dump-off from Smith into four yards. But a Braun holding penalty on the next play euthanized the 15-play, 42-yard drive that ate 7:34 of game clock. Smith was coverage sacked on 3rd-and-12, but Bitancurt's 44-yard try was solid, 20-14.

Iowa State reached 2nd-and-9 on the WVU 36. Richardson play-actioned, drawing Cook inward. Chestnut failed to adjust, letting Quenton Bundrage separate behind him. The Cyclones led 35 yards later on the completion, 21-20.

West Virginia stalled in three plays, but ISU did, too, after only 11 yards. Pat Miller played an 11-yard in-route perfectly, timing his swat with the ball's arrival on third-down. That was until punter Kirby Van Der Kamp rushed rightwards on 4th-and-11, earning a first down with a 12-yard gain.

Richardson and Company stalled out four plays later behind a pair of incompletions, the final off a Shaq Rowell tip.

An 11-yard rush by Alston ended the quarter.

**********
THIRD QUARTER

+ Total Yards: ISU-91 (44 passing, 47 rushing), WVU-65 (35 passing, 30 rushing)

+ Plays Attempted/Average Yards: ISU-18/5.1, WVU-18/3.6

+ Yards per Pass: ISU-7/6.3, WVU-9/3.9

+ Score: ISU-21, WVU-20

*********

The Mountaineers went three-and-out after that carry. Iowa State gained eight but gave up 15 on a personal foul. A punt ensured, and Austin responded with his first big play of the game, a weaving romp from left sideline to right pylon for a touchdown.

But freshman K.J. Dillon grabbed a Cyclone tackler inside the shoulder pads, drawing a holding penalty and placing West Virginia at the 36-yard line.

Alston ran for two yards before four Smith passes. A deep-out to Woods picked up a first down, but the Mountaineers flustered with a delay of gain. Instead of a pair of six-yard completions to Austin picking up a first-down, Smith faced a 3rd-and-3 from the left hash.

A corner route to Jordan Thompson travelled 25 yards in the air, but one foot out of reach for the true frosh to drag a foot and complete the grab. Bitancurt lined up for a 35-yard attempt.

The kicker's ball crossed in front of the left goalpost as it travelled from the farthest hash in between the uprights. Then the pigskin drifted leftward, and more left, and headed towards yellow metal. Bitancurt struck the left goalpost for the second time, but the ball caromed inside the posts for a converted kick and a 23-21 advantage.

Iowa State travelled 36 yards in eight plays in response, with Arceo's 49-yard field goal the capper. Then the football gods paid Austin-and five-game loser West Virginia-back for a season of misfortune.


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