The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

September 25, 2011

Tigers top Mountaineers

MORGANTOWN — Midway through the fourth quarter of No. 16 West Virginia’s highly-anticipated matchup with No. 2 LSU, a slow moving fog filtered into the stadium.

It was fitting.

At times West Virginia seemed lost in the fog.

West Virginia committed four turnovers and surrendered a back-breaking 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to Morris Claiborne near the end of the third quarter as the Tigers turned back the Mountaineers 47-21 Saturday night in front of 62,056 fans and a national television audience.

“We got beat by a good football team tonight,” coach Dana Holgorsen, who suffered his first loss at WVU, said. “If I would have scripted it, I probably wouldn’t have scripted it this way. They’re a smarter football team than we are. We had four turnovers, they had none. We had twice as many penalties. And the special teams were completely lopsided.”

While LSU flexed its high-ranked muscle at times, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith continued his early-season assault on the record books.

Smith completed 38 of 65 passes for 463 yards, all WVU records. The previous records were set by Marc Bulger in 1998.

He was also intercepted twice in the first half.

LSU converted those two first-half interceptions into touchdowns and led 27-7 at the break.

West Virginia at least made it momentarily interesting in the second half

After LSU’s Drew Alleman missed a 30-yard field goal on the first possession of the second half, WVU went the distance, Smith hitting Tyler Urban with a 12-yard dart to make it 27-14.

Two possessions later, West Virginia cut it to one possession.

Smith’s 72-yard completion to Tavon Austin set up the Mountaineers deep in LSU territory.

A 19-yard pass to Dustin Garrison on third-and-12 was followed by Garrison, a true freshman, scoring from 1-yard out to make it 27-21.

Smith threw for 217 yards in the second quarter alone.

But LSU burst that momentum when Claiborne returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown and a 34-21 lead.

LSU got the ball back on downs at its own 43, and the Tigers finished off the drive when Michael Ford burst through the Mountaineers’ defense for a 15-yard touchdown and an insurmountable 40-21 lead.

The Tigers added a touchdown run by Alfred Blue late in the game to make it 47-21.

The Tigers rushed for 186 yards and threw for 180, but mainly on the strength of Smith’s right arm, the Mountaineers held a 533-367 advantage in total yardage.

Spencer Ware had 95 yards to lead LSU and Michael Ford added 85 and a pair of touchdowns.

Quarterback Jarrett Lee, who had four touchdowns passes entering the game, completed 16 of 28 passes for 180 and three touchdowns, all in the first half.

The Mountaineers found themselves down 27-7 at the half, a victim of three turnovers and poor field position.

The Mountaineers averaged starting their seven drives at the 15, and three times started inside their own 5, courtesy of LSU punter Brad Wing.

In a 13-0  hole early, West Virginia cut it to 13-7 when Smith connected with Bailey on a 20-yard score with 12:30 to go in the first half. Bailey caught the short pass, shed a would-be tackler, and went into the end zone untouched to cap a 73-yard drive.

WVU, which picked up the tempo on the drive, converted a big fourth-down when Smith found Tavon Austin and three plays later Bailey scored.

But LSU got it back, when, on a third-and-1, Lee bamboozled the Mountaineer defense and went deep to Odell Beckham Jr. on a 52-yard hookup that put LSU up 20-7 with 6:57 remaining in the half.

Late in the half, Tyrann Mattieu intercepted Smith when he tipped the ball in the air to himself, pulled the ball in and scampered to the WVU 1-yard line.

It took LSU two plays to put it in the end zone, Lee throwing to Chase Clement for the score to put LSU up 27-7 with 26.8 seconds left.

LSU wasted little time, getting on the board on their first possession after a personal foul penalty and a 14-yard punt sat it up at the Tigers’ 42.

Lee hooked up with Rueben Randle on an 11-yard touchdown after the Tigers converted two third-and-long conversions.

After failing to convert on Brad Starks fumble, LSU did convert on a Geno Smith interception, although the ball hit Tavon Austin squarely in the hands before bounding high into the air and into the arms of Brandon Taylor who was playing center field.

Michael Ford finished off a quick 50-yard drive with a 22-touchdown run with 1:49 left in the first quarter to give the Tigers a 13-0 lead.

Text Only
College Sports
  • Hamrick deserves praise for pursuit of D’Antoni

    Sometimes gambles don’t pay off, but some risks simply have to be taken.

    April 23, 2014

  • WVU post-spring depth chart filled with few surprises

    Although the contents brought about as much of a surprise as a over the hill balloon at a 40th birthday party, there were a few interesting nuggets in the post-spring depth chart that West Virginia University sent out Wednesday morning.

    April 23, 2014

  • Clutch hitting leads WVU over Marshall

    Junior catcher Cam O’Brien finished  a home run away from the cycle and scored three runs as the WVU baseball team defeated Marshall, 10-3, on Wednesday evening at Hawley Field.

    April 23, 2014

  • Gardner improving with broken neck

    Joedy Gardner, a well-known former West Virginia basketball player and coach, is much improved after having broken his neck in Phoenix, Ariz., several months ago.

    April 23, 2014

  • 042314 trickett Mountaineers have benefited from incoming football transfers

    Recruiting in college football seems to get more and more attention every season. Websites like and stalk the high school sidelines and blow up potential recruits’ cell phones in search of the latest information. But there’s one important aspect that often goes ignored — transfers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • WVU baseball pounds Terps

    The offense had 16 hits and sophomore left-hander Ross Vance struck out six as the West Virginia University baseball team routed Maryland 14-2 on Tuesday evening at Hawley Field.

    April 22, 2014

  • Crutchfield not interested in Division I job

    You would think Jim Crutchfield would be a great candidate for a head basketball coach’s job at an NCAA Division I university.
    But the Clarksburg native keeps saying that he’s perfectly content in that role at West Liberty, a Division II powerhouse. His 10-year record there is an absolutely amazing 272-49. Significantly, 10 of those defeats came in his first year at the West Liberty helm.

    April 22, 2014

  • Stepping up: Kelly racking up wins for Lions

    Sundays have become red-letter days for Chris Kelly.

    April 22, 2014

  • Paul Popovich, now 73, wishes he were playing baseball today

    If you’re a longtime baseball fan, you may recall Morgantown’s Paul Popovich.

    April 22, 2014

  • Hiring an interim while waiting on D’Antoni would be an injustice

    The search for Marshall’s new men’s basketball coach remained in a holding pattern over the Easter weekend while the Los Angeles Lakers put off their decision on coach Mike D’Antoni’s future until this week.

    April 21, 2014