OU outlasts West Virginia, Austin's 572 yards for 50-49 win
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Sunday, November 18, 2012
11/18/12 at 7:30 AM
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The Oklahoma Sooners played Tavon Austin on Saturday night at Milan Puskar Stadium. They barely had enough to beat him, 50-49.
Bedeviled as they were by Austin, West Virginia's one-man show, the Sooners had Landry Jones throwing against college football's worst pass defense. Thus Jones' record-setting night, and OU's fourth-and-3 call from the Mountaineers 5 with 27 seconds on the game clock.
Jones took the shotgun snap and zipped a simple slant to Kenny Stills. He beat Ishmael Banks' one-on-one coverage cleanly - the Sooners loaded the opposite side of the field with three wideouts to draw defenders from their most reliable target - and made an easy catch.
Jones' two-point pass failed, but the play had been made. A group of defensive backs knocked down Geno Smith's 49-yard Hail Mary as the gun sounded and the Sooners could both exhale and celebrate.
The Sooners left Morgantown a little closer to Kansas State atop the Big 12 Conference.
One thousand three hundred miles away, Baylor upset the No. 1 Wildcats. That dropped them to 7-1 in the Big 12. OU is now 6-1, and 8-2 overall, with games against Oklahoma State and at TCU remaining.
K-State gets next week off, then finishes by hosting Texas. The Sooners must still win out, and then get some help from the Longhorns on Dec. 1.
At least they have a shot, though, thanks to Saturday night's results. Thanks to the fact that Austin finally ran out of gas, and the fact that the Mountaineer pass defense never had any to begin with.
First Austin - whose 572 all-purpose yards were more than anyone had ever gained against OU, more than anyone ever gained in Big 12 Conference history, who single-handedly kept the Mountaineers within reasonable distance, and then even put them in front midway though the fourth quarter.
Who, with some second-half help from Smith and wideout Stedman Bailey, ignited a West Virginia offense that totaled 778 yards, the most ever allowed by an OU defense.
Desperate to win for the first time in 42 days, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen took his slot-receiving dynamo and stuck him in the backfield. He kept the field spread with multiple receivers, forcing the Sooners to load up on defensive backs.
One of them, Julian Wilson, positioned himself at middle linebacker and tried to keep tabs on Austin. That proved impossible, for poor Wilson and the 10 defenders around him.
A Sooners defense noted for speed didn't turn slow on their plane trip out to Morgantown. It's just they weren't as fast as Austin. Not as shifty, and not as imaginative.
Austin began the second half by taking a handoff left and blazing by the OU secondary en route to a 74-yard touchdown run. That pulled West Virginia within 31-24.
The Sooners made it 38-24, so Austin took another handoff into the end zone. His 4-yarder on third-and-goal included a juke of Javon Harris that looked like vintage USC-era Reggie Bush. It was like tackling a hologram.
Down 38-30 early in the fourth quarter, the Mountaineers intercepted Jones' jump ball and drove 97 yards to within 38-36. They gave Austin a breather and went to Bailey for 35- and 33-yard completions along the way.
The motioning Bailey took a little reverse flip into the end zone from 4 yards out, but could not catch Smith's two-point pass.
Gabe Ikard's poor third-down shotgun snap diffused the ensuing drive, and West Virginia took over on its 15 with 7:33 on the clock. The Sooners wouldn't be so lucky this time.
Austin took a straight handout left and blew through a crease into open field. He ran for 54 yards to the OU 31. Penalties on Wilson and the Sooners' sideline advanced the ball to the 8.
Smith took it from there, floating a touchdown pass over Colvin to Bailey to make it 43-38 with 7:12 remaining.
Re-enter Jones, who finished 38-for-51 for an OU-record 554 yards and six touchdowns. After taking over on his 21, and trailing for the first time all night, he went 5-of-6 for 78 yards.
Jones hit Damien Williams for a 16-yard screen. He zipped a 28-yarder down the middle to Sterling Shepard. He rolled slightly and found Justin Brown for 23 yards to the West Virginia 11.
Then, on third-and-7 from the 8, he found a wide open Stills in the back of the end zone. Stills' third touchdown gave the Sooners a 44-43 lead with just over four minutes to go. Jones missed Brown on his two-point pass, but that wasn't the worst news for OU.
The Mountaineers still had plenty of time - 4:04 - and Austin had more to offer.
From his own 8-yard line, he took another handoff left and somehow found a sixth gear. His 47-yard burst put his offense on the OU 45. His 5-yard run put it on the 40.
Then Smith connected with Bailey, after he'd beaten Colvin and Tony Jefferson for the score. Smith's two-point keeper failed.
Now, the problem was West Virginia's. They left the Sooners too much time to steal the game back.
Jones took over on his own 46, after Brennan Clay's 46-yard kickoff return, with 2:41 left. He hit Stills on a 6-yard curl, then connected with Brown for a catch-and-run of 36 down to the Mountaineers 12.
Another completion to Brown advanced the ball to the 4, but then West Virginia stuffed Blake Bell for a loss of 1.
That set up fourth-and-3 at the 5, and Jones' game-winner to Stills after an OU timeout.
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Original Print Headline: Sooners outlast WVU in slugfest
Guerin Emig 918-581-8355
OU's Landry Jones leaves the field after the Sooners' win against West Virginia. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World
Oklahoma's Kenny Stills makes a touchdown catch under pressure from Ishmael Banks. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World
Oklahoma's Damien Williams celebrates a touchdown against West Virginia on Saturday night in Morgantown, W.Va. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World