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September 28, 2013
Mountaineers outgun Cowboys in a 30-21 shootout
After one of the most difficult games of his coaching career, Head Coach Dana Holgorsen took full blame for the 37-0 defeat saying he would fix the problems.
On Saturday, Holgorsen's words proved prophetic as the West Virginia Mountaineers pulled off a shocking 30-21 upset over the 11-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys in Morgantown.
Entering Saturday's contest, questions abound regarding the potential effectiveness of West Virginia's offense. After all, a 37-0 defeat against Maryland would bring about questions regarding the potential of a traditionally powerful offense.
In an attempt to try and regain an offensive identity, Coach Holgorsen made his third change of the season at quarterback, installing redshirt junior Clint Trickett into the system for his first career start in Morgantown.
But while the offense garnered a bulk of the headlines this past week, it was West Virginia's defense that stole the show early against a prolific Oklahoma State offense. Keith Patterson's unit managed to slow the Cowboys down on the opening drive, holding them to an early punt and gaining a brief rise in the crowd at Mountaineer Field.
It would not take long, however, for that good mojo to fall to the wayside. Running a strikingly similar offense to the Mountaineers, installed by Holgorsen during his one season in Stillwater, Cowboys quarterback J.W. Walsh connected with receiver Josh Stewart on an inside slant, catching a blitzing defense off guard. Stewart would jog past defenders in the West Virginia secondary for a 73-yard touchdown and first blood with a 7-0 lead.
Offensively, it would not be much better for the Mountaineers. Picking up where they left off in Baltimore last week, albeit with a new signal caller, Trickett under throws his receiver on deep pass for the easy interception by Oklahoma State.
Thankfully though, the miscues on offense would not be exclusive to West Virginia. On the following play, Oklahoma State's Walsh would do much of the same, throwing a pick right into the hands of Mountaineer corner Ishmael Banks. This time, however, the Mountaineers would capitalize. The redshirt junior defensive back, would return the pick 53-yards for a touchdown, giving the Mountaineers their first points in over a game and igniting a fire under those in attendance.
The pick-six tied the game up at seven, halfway through the first quarter.
From here a trend continued to develop for the Mountaineers - excellent defense, lackadaisical offense. On the following two offensive drives, Trickett failed to gain any traction in his role behind center, resulting in back-to-back short stays for the offense.
Meanwhile, the Mountaineer defense continued to play solid, fundamental football, holding the highly-touted Cowboy's offense at bay with excellent coverage and a variety of blitz packages.
Back-to-back stalls for Walsh and the Cowboys put the ball back into the hands of Trickett at West Virginia's own 30-yard line. It was here that the Mountaineer's offense showed its first sign of life in nearly two weeks.
Aided by a long personal foul penalty for the Cowboys on third down, Trickett led the Mountaineers on a 70-yard drive, ending with a 17-yard toss to Kevin White across the middle for the touchdown, the first of his career in Morgantown. With the score, West Virginia took their first of the contest, 14-7.
Defensively, the Mountaineers continued to play at a high level throughout much of the first half, even helping the offense when necessary. With the Cowboys backed up deep in the shadow of their own end zone, Mountaineer defender Brandon Golson stripped the ball from Cowboy's running back Jeremy Smith, giving the Mountaineers their second turnover of the game and excellent field position for Trickett and the offense.
Unfortunately, however, the offense continued to show rampant inconsistencies throughout, failing to capitalize on the solid field position. The Mountaineers would settle for a 45-yard field goal by Josh Lambert to extend the lead to two possessions - 17-7.
The Oklahoma State offense would finally find its rhythm against a rather lockdown West Virginia defense midway through the second quarter. A number of missed tackles by Mountaineer defenders, and blown coverage in their own territory, led to a 27-yard Walsh touchdown pass to Tracy Moore. Even with the score, the Mountaineers continued to hold onto a 17-14 advantage.
Meanwhile, the West Virginia offense was doing very little to help out the cause. After moving the ball methodically to the Oklahoma State 43, thanks in part to a pass interference penalty, Trickett took a deep shot across the middle to White. Unfortunately for the new quarterback, the pass was well off target, falling into the waiting hands of Oklahoma State defender Ashton Lampkin for the interception.
Following a defensive stop for the Mountaineers, Trickett and the offense would have another shot to get it right, and they would not disappoint.
Starting with tremendous field position after a short 13-yard punt by the Cowboys, Trickett would lead the Mountaineers on a quick 43-yard touchdown drive, highlighted by a 40-yard pass to Mario Alford. A short Charles Sims run up the gut put six more points on the board for West Virginia, giving them a 24-14 advantage, which they would hold into halftime.
When both teams returned to the field for the second half, it appeared that a revitalized Oklahoma State squad had arrived. After stopping the West Virginia offense deep into their own territory, the Cowboy's took over with good field position at their own 42.
Four plays later, fullback Jeremy Seaton would escape from the backfield and streak downfield, catching a well-thrown ball by Walsh in stride and galloping into the end zone. The score cut into West Virginia's lead, but the Mountaineers continued to hold a slight advantage, 24-21.
Both teams would swap uneventful drives throughout much of the third quarter until the West Virginia offense closed out the quarter with a solid series. A 44-yard completion across the middle to Ronald Carswell set the Mountaineers up deep within the redzone.
However once there the offense stalled yet again, leading to wide right a 34-yard Lambert field goal attempt. The score would stand at 24-21 heading into the fourth quarter.
Oklahoma State would finally attempt to break the monotony early in the fourth quarter, with a strong drive deep into West Virginia territory. Following a facemask penalty on the Mountaineers, Oklahoma State found themselves knocking on the door for a touchdown, at the one-yard line.
But the West Virginia defense would step up to the occasion in a big way. The Mountaineers would keep the Cowboys out of the end zone, pushing them back even to the six-yard line on third down to force a field goal attempt.
With the crowd already amped over the defensive stop, Oklahoma State kicker Ben Grogan stepped out for 23-yard attempt. But to the jubilation of West Virginia fans in attendance, Grogan would clank the kick off the right upright, keeping the Mountaineers ahead by three with 9:30 remaining.
Mountaineer fans got a bit of a scare on the following drive when Trickett walked off the field clutching his arm in obvious agony. The quarterback would briefly head into the locker room with a trainer but would return on the follow drive, fighting through the pain.
And fighting he did. Showing great resiliency and toughness, Trickett returned to action, still clutching his arm, and led the Mountaineers deep into the red zone. Despite great bravery from the quarterback, however, the Mountaineers were unable to punch it into the end zone and settled for a field goal. Lambert connected from 27-yards out to give West Virginia a 27-21 lead with just under four minutes remaining.
Down by six with little time left, the Cowboys took over on offense looking to lead a final drive to victory. But defensive leader Darwin Cook would thwart any hopes of a comeback. The senior safety would jump in front of a poorly thrown Walsh pass for the interception, sending the sidelines and those at Milan Puskar Stadium into a frenzy.
On the ensuing offensive possession the Mountaineers would tack on another field goal to put the game out of reach for the Cowboys.
Final score: West Virginia 30, Oklahoma State 21.
Clint Trickett, who in his first start for West Virginia completed 24 of 50 passes for 309 yards and a touchdown, led the Mountaineers on offense along with Charles Sims, who tacked on 60 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
The Mountaineers will return to action next Saturday as they travel to Waco, TX to take on Baylor. Game time is at 8pm.
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