WVU downs Pokes for 34-10 win
Continuing to ride the wave of momentum in conference play, the West Virginia Mountaineers travelled to Stillwater, OK Saturday afternoon and dispatched Oklahoma State in a hard-fought battle, pulling off a 34-10 victory.
The Mountaineers were led in victory by the passing of Clint Trickett, who put up 238 yards and two touchdowns through the air. But it was the Mountaineer ground game, led by 132 yards rushing by Wendell Smallwood, and a stout West Virginia defense that pulled together a strong victory.
Opening up the contest, it appeared that the home squad might be prepared to play inspired football against the West Virginia defense. Starting early with a similar strategy they employed last week against Baylor, the Oklahoma State offense managed to cut through the Mountaineer coverage with quick passes under pressure.
The Cowboys drove just outside of field goal range, but the bend-don't-break Mountaineer defense managed to hold in four down situation.
Starting the opening drive at their own 38, the Mountaineers would waste no time whatsoever rushing down the field. Relying heavily on Wendell Smallwood, who would carry the ball twice for 23 yards and grab a reception from the backfield for 14 yards, it took West Virginia only four plays to reach the red zone.
From there, Trickett would turn to his favorite target yet again for the first score of the game. A 19-yard strike across the middle to Kevin White ended a five-play, 62-yard drive in only 1:50. The score gave West Virginia an early 7-0 advantage.
After another defensive stop for Tony Gibson's crew, the Mountaineer offense took over yet again, but this time inside their own 20.
But the field position would not hinder the quick-strike ability of the offense for a second. On the fourth play of the drive, Trickett would find Mario Alford on a slant across the middle. With no safeties playing deep for the Cowboys, Alford would blast by his defender, taking the ball 79 yards to the house.
With eight minutes remaining in the first quarter, West Virginia led 14-0.
On the ensuing drive, it appeared that the Cowboys were ready to answer the early Mountaineer onslaught. Picking apart the secondary, Oklahoma State drove yet again into its own territory behind the arm of Daxx Garman.
But perhaps feeling too comfortable in his ability, Garman would throw up a floating pass into double coverage that would be picked off by Dravon Henry. The interception was Henry's first of the year, giving West Virginia the ball at its own 14-yard line.
After the early offensive explosion, the next two drives for both squads turned into a defensive battle. Oklahoma State held West Virginia to a pair of three-and-outs, including a big third down sack by Emmanuel Ogbah on Trickett near the end of the first quarter.
Following the sack, Oklahoma State took over on offense just outside of midfield and put together its best drive of the game thus far. The Cowboys quickly moved across the 50 with a 13-yard run from Desmond Roland and 17-yard strike to David Glidden, but the drive would stall just inside the West Virginia 30.
A pair of overthrown passes to Cowboy receivers halted the drive at the Mountaineer 24, where Oklahoma State would settle for a field goal. With 14:11 remaining in the half West Virginia held a 14-3 lead.
Another stalled West Virginia offensive drive gave Oklahoma State the ball back at inside its own 10, where the offense would take over with a huge drive. Three-straight runs for Tyreek Hill for 30 yards pushed the Cowboys down the field, with an end-around by Brandon Shepherd finally getting the home squad into the red zone.
One play later, Garman would find a wide open Teddy Johnson in the flat, who would walk into the end zone untouched for the score. The touchdown cut into West Virginia's lead, as the Mountaineers would hold a 14-10 lead with 8:34 left in the half.
Meanwhile, the West Virginia offense that thrived in its first two drives continued to falter. Another three-and-out for the Oklahoma State defense threw some cause for concern onto the Mountaineer sideline as the Cowboys continued to cut into the lead.
On the ensuing possession, the Cowboys would drive yet again into the red zone, taking advantage of a West Virginia defense that appeared a bit winded a times.
However, a big sack on third-and-eight from the West Virginia nine-yard line forced Oklahoma State to attempt a field goal. The 36-yard attempt by kicker Ben Grogan would sail wide right, giving the Mountaineers another shot on offense with just under three minutes left in the half.
But the final drive would be all for not, as another West Virginia drive stalled just beyond midfield, with both teams heading into the locker room shortly thereafter.
The Mountaineers held onto a 14-10 lead at the half.
West Virginia received the ball to commence the second half and continued to try and pound the Oklahoma State defense on the ground. A 22-yard gain on the second play of the half by Smallwood put him over 100 yards rushing on the day and put the Mountaineers near midfield.
Following the strong run by Smallwood, the West Virginia offense turned to the air with a slew of short passes. A trio of catches across the middle by Jordan Thompson pushed the Mountaineers into field goal territory where the offensive drive would stall yet again.
Kicker Josh Lambert would be called on by Dana Holgorsen where he would connect with a 39-yard kick, pushing the Mountaineer lead up 17-10.
Following a West Virginia defensive stop, the Cowboys booted a strong punt inside the one-yard line, where the Mountaineers would start the drive. And it would not seem like any ordinary drive at the beginning.
A first down run for Smallwood would be negated one play later due to intentional grounding from Trickett, putting West Virginia at a third-and-19 from the five. In a conservative route on the ensuing play, Dreamius Smith would receive the ball on a draw and stumble 20 yards for the first down.
With a bit of momentum on their backs, the Mountaineers would try and capitalize on the strong play. However, the offense again seemed to run into a brick wall around midfield.
A failed end-around attempt from Alford on third down forced the Mountaineers to punt once again as the third quarter came to a close.
Following another three-and-out for the West Virginia defense, Trickett and the offense took to the field once again looking to finally put together some much-needed momentum.
Yard by yard the West Virginia offense continued to employ a ground-heavy strategy, beating away at the Oklahoma State front and eating up the clock. However, even with the gradual movement on the ground, West Virginia could not find its way into the red zone even, forcing Lambert to take the field once again on fourth down.
With 10:14 remaining in the contest, the star kicker for West Virginia connected with a 43-yard field goal, his second boot of the game. The kick pushed the Mountaineer's lead to two possessions, giving them a 20-10 advantage.
The Cowboys attempted to attack the West Virginia defense again through the air on its ensuing drive, moving quickly into Mountaineer territory, but could not capitalize. With just over seven minutes remaining, Oklahoma State faced another fourth-and-short opportunity just outside of field goal range.
But busted blocking from the Cowboys front allowed Noble Nwachukwu to run through untouched and take down Garman as he threw. The Mountaineers would take over from the 37-yard line with 7:27 remaining.
West Virginia managed to take just over a minute and a half off the clock and forced Oklahoma State to burn the last of its timeouts before punting with 5:40 remaining.
The Cowboys attempted to cut into the Mountaineer advantage on the ensuing possession, but it would be all for not. Henry would key in on an overthrown pass from Garman, taking it untouched to the house for six.
The interception, Henry's second of the day, pushed the Mountaineers ahead 27-10 with just over four minutes to play.
West Virginia would add a little icing on the cake in the form of a 40-yard Dreamius Smith touchdown run. The score helped the Mountaineers extend the led to 34-10 where it would remain for the final three minutes.