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Mountaineers continue slide, lose to TCU

By Jude

By Dusty

The Gold and Blue free-fall continues.

Despite a better performance from its much-maligned defense, West Virginia gave up two big plays at the worst time to lose its third straight game to TCU Saturday, falling 39-38 in double-overtime.

The signs of improvement were there, but in the end, the result was the same -- WVU dropped its third straight Big 12 Conference game with a combination of inept play on all three sides of the ball.

After allowing nearly 53 points per game this season, WVU’s defense had apparently righted a lot of wrongs during the previous bye week. The unit looked surprisingly adequate for most of the game, forcing three turnovers, nine punts and six 3-and-outs, but it couldn’t avoid the big play when a stop was needed most.

West Virginia (5-3, 2-3 Big 12) blew a 10-point second-half lead and continually refused to let a mistake-prone TCU give them the game, dropping three straight for the first time since 2004. WVU had not allowed two straight losses at Mountaineer Field since 2003.

Want to watch the highlights? Are you the type of person that enjoys getting your teeth drilled at the dentist?

In an often ugly (but exciting) contest, West Virginia out-gaffed its opponent by missing four field goals (the third of which was a potential overtime game-winner that was blocked), while also giving up a 94-yard touchdown tie the game in the final 3 minutes of regulation.

"TCU made more plays than we did,'' West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said in this article from the WV Gazette. "We had plenty of opportunities to win the game and we failed to do so on all three sides of the ball, coaches and players included.''

Leading 24-14 in the third quarter, Tyler Bitancurt (he of the above-mentioned four misses), couldn’t corral a low snap on a punt try, and TCU collected the loose-pigskin for a 15-yard TD to make it 24-21.

WVU responded with a drive deep into Horned Frog territory, but Bitancurt’s third off-line kick negated a chance at some insurance points.

TCU looked as if it would make the Mountaineers pay, driving to the WVU 8, but Isaiah Bruce picked off a Trevone Boykin pass at the goal line to give his team another reprieve.

It wouldn’t matter, as WVU’s offense then decided to no-show, moving backward a yard on three plays to force a punt.

TCU took over at its own 48 and quickly mounted an efficient journey to tie the game at 24-24 on a 26-yard field goal.

After some laughable attempts at offense, the teams traded punts -- and that’s when fortune against shined on the Mountaineers. Tavon Austin took a punt at his own 24 and showed his nearly untouchable speed, making several defenders miss while out-running the others for a 76-yard TD.

The PAT made it 31-24 with just 3 minutes, 19 seconds left in the game. Surely even this Gold and Blue defense could hold it together for that long, right?


After a 9-yard sack on first down, Boykin scrambled away from some WVU pressure to find Josh Boyce in the secondary without a white jersey within 15 yards of him. Seems Boyce had been knocked out of bounds at the play’s outset by inexperienced new starter Ishmael Banks, who then let Banks go when it looked like the TCU signal-caller might run for it.

Instead, Boykin let the football fly, and the wide-open Banks took the pass to the house, tying the game at 31-31 with a 94-yard score.

"It was just a busted coverage,'' said defensive coordinator Joe DeForest in this article from the WV Gazette. "We'd done the things we needed to do. We played well. But we didn't finish the game.''

To their credit, Smith and the offense produced another scoring chance in response, despite having only 1:28 to do so. The senior led the team to the opposing 38 in 7 plays, though the play-calls were geared more for a big TD strike than to set up the team‘s shaky kicker for an easier field goal.

Smith missed a big chance when he overthrew J.D. Woods, who had beaten two defenders, on what would have been a walk-off TD pass, leaving Bitancurt to come nowhere close to making a 55-yard field goal try to end regulation.

The Horned Frogs couldn’t break into the end zone on the first drive of overtime, and the hometown crowd smelled blood in the water when the TCU kicker missed wide with his 37-yard field goal.

WVU could only move 6 yards in 3 plays, though, and Bitancurt’s potential game-clinching kick was blocked to bring on a second OT period.

That stanza produced an even better opportunity for the Mountaineers, who scored on the first play when Smith found Stedman Bailey for a 25-yard TD. The PAT made it 38-31 and put all the pressure on TCU to respond.

Yup. This picture pretty much sums it up.
Picture via Charleston Daily Mail here.

And respond they did.

The Horned Frogs faked a reverse, and as we all know, WVU’s defense is susceptible to any play that involves even the tiniest bit of trickery. As could be expected, Boykin found another receiver with no Mountaineers anywhere in sight for a 25-yard score.

TCU showed a lot of testicular fortitude and decided to go for the win instead of a 3rd overtime. Boykin closed the contest by again finding Boyce on a low-pass for the two-point conversion. A review confirmed the play and sealed WVU’s fate.

"I'm one of those people who believes when you play someone on the road you have to go take ball games,'' TCU coach Gary Patterson said in the previously-cited article. "If you just play around and see what happens, you get things like the [Austin] punt return.''

TCU started the game’s scoring with a lengthy drive, going 78 yards in 13 plays. The nearly 7-minute journey was keyed by two lengthy 3rd-down conversions, and was capped with Matthew Tucker’s 2-yard TD run.

After some offensive misfired, WVU finally responded with a 67-yard drive, capped when J.D. Woods stole a sure interception from a TCU defender in the end zone for a 22-yard score.

The Horned Frogs would get the lead right back, though.

Smith was picked off on the first play following a punt, missing his receiver by more than 10 yards, and Boykin was much more accurate on his next try, connecting with Boyce for a 31-yard score on the very next play.

Boyce had beaten two WVU defenders on the play to reach pay dirt and earn a 14-7 lead.

Austin helped to knot the game 14-all with a beauty of a play, taking a short touch-pass from Smith from sideline to sideline for a highlight-reel 43-yard touchdown. The senior finished with 11 catches for 101 yards.

Smith completed 32 of 54 passes for 260 yards and three scores, but still hasn‘t come close to the form and accuracy he showed in the season‘s first 5 games.

Shawne Alston returned from injury but made little difference, carrying 4 times for 11 yards. He did score on a 1-yard run (on 4th-and-goal no less), which gave WVU a 21-14 halftime lead. That score was set up by a TCU muffed punt which the Mountaineers recovered at the 9-yard line.

TCU outgained the Mountaineers 405-338, but WVU managed just 126 yards in the second half.

"What we've done the last three games offensively is totally unacceptable," Holgorsen said in this article from the WV Gazette.
"It's quiet [in the Mountaineer locker room]," said linebacker Isaiah Bruce in this article. "There's a lot of disappointment. We really came into this game expecting to win. It hurts."
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Poster Thread
Posted: 11/7/2012 10:28 pm  Updated: 11/7/2012 10:28 pm
Joined: 7/27/2006
From: Alkol, Lincoln County
Posts: 24872
 Re: Mountaineers continue slide, lose to TCU
say no to grey.

and that wasn't a catch to win the game for tcu.


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