The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest Sports

September 30, 2012


Mountaineers light up the scoreboard with 70-63 win over Baylor

MORGANTOWN — The couches were safe Saturday afternoon in Morgantown, but the record books were set on fire.

No. 9 West Virginia (4-0) set a decade’s worth of team and individual high marks in its first Big 12 football game, as a crowd of 60,012 watched quarterback Geno Smith add to his Heisman Trophy resume with a 656-yard, eight-touchdown performance in a 70-63 win over No. 25 Baylor (3-1), which left with its first loss of the year, despite its own offensive explosion.

The single-game WVU record book might need to be replaced by the boxscore from Saturday’s game.

— The 133 combined points were a school record.

— The 70 combined first-half points broke the record of 69 from the 2012 Orange Bowl against Clemson, also setting a new home and stadium record.

— The 180 combined offensive plays were a Milan Puskar Stadium record.

— Tyler Bitancurt’s 10 extra points were a school record.

— WVU’s 807 offensive yards and the combined 1,507 yards (Baylor ended with 700) were a stadium record.

— Smith’s 14 consecutive completions were a school record.

— Smith’s eight touchdown passes were a school record.

— Smith’s 88 percent completion percentage is the nation’s best completion percentage since 2000 with a minimum of 50 passes.

— Smith’s passing yards and 45 completions (on 51 attempts) were school records.

Rest your eyes for a second. There’s more.

— The 74 combined pass completions were stadium records.

— Stedman Bailey set the WVU career record for receiving touchdowns at 26, two ahead of Tavon Austin, who moved to 24.

— Bailey’s 303 receiving yards set a WVU school record, and Austin’s 215 came in at No. 2.

— Austin broke his own single-game record with 14 catches.

— Austin is now WVU’s career receiving yards leader with 2,684 yards.

To say that WVU’s welcome to its new conference was a warm one would be like saying Smith is a pretty fair quarterback.

“You witnessed the same thing I did,” said WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen after the game, not sure exactly how to explain what the Mountaineer fans and an FX television audience witnessed. “I told everybody it was going to be different.”

Smith has made a habit of downplaying his place among the nation’s top players, and so has Holgorsen, instead choosing to focus on possible areas of improvement. That wasn’t a realistic approach after Smith’s near-perfect play on Saturday. He threw deep balls perfectly into the hands of his receivers — including touchdown passes of 47, 45, 42, 87 and 39 yards — threaded the needle on slants and screens, continually made the right reads, found receivers in front of the chains and even scrambled for a couple of first downs in critical situations.

“He was 45 of 51 for 656 yards, eight touchdowns and zero interceptions,” said Holgorsen. “Can you please tell me how you can improve on that?”

Smith spread the love, helping Bailey, his high school teammate, and Austin to career days, while also completing 13 passes for 114 yards to senior J.D. Woods, the biggest a one-handed grab late in the fourth quarter that enabled WVU to run out the clock with a 7-point lead.

“We had people saying we were awful because we only scored 31 points on Maryland,” said Smith. “But every game was different. This game was about making plays on offense, and I think we did a great job of overcoming adversity.

“We played a really tough Baylor team that had won nine in a row, and they did a great job of putting pressure on us.”

The Mountaineers needed every one of those completions to hold off Baylor and the country’s No. 1 offense, which found its own spot in the record books, breaking the marks for WVU opponent points and total yardage.

Nick Florence, the replacement for 2011 Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, threw for 581 yards and five touchdowns, numbers that would have earned him a featured spot on SportsCenter, if not for the play of the quarterback on the other side. He had three receivers — Terrance Williams (314), a Baylor school record, Tevin Reese (120) and Lanear Sampson (109) — past the century mark in receiving, and the Bears converted 11 of 16 third-down attempts, fighting back from a 56-35 third-quarter deficit to make things interesting at the end.

“We fought hard, but we didn’t respond well enough to win the game,” said Baylor head coach Art Briles. “I thought Nick Florence had a great game. I thought he really handled himself well. He stayed in control of his emotions very well.

“I thought Geno was exceptional, which he has been for the past few years. Today, he certainly earned his cause for postseason awards.”

While there was cause for celebration on offense — where WVU mixed in just enough run, 151 yards, including 82 from Andrew Buie, to keep Baylor honest — there are some question marks on defense heading into next Saturday’s showdown at Texas, the Mountaineers’ first Big 12 road trip.

Aside from a first-quarter interception, on a ball that tipped off the hands of a Bears receiver, and a sack, there weren’t too many positive sides on that side of the ball. Baylor scored on 6 of 7 trips to the red zone — an Aaron Jones missed field goal from 33 yards away the only setback —and allowed the Bears 20 yards per completion.

“We had guys in position to make plays but didn’t make plays,” said WVU defensive coordinator Joe DeForest. “They ran the same plays we practiced, and we were always in position. But we have to do better if we want to win in this league.”

Baylor will be back home next week, facing the Big 12’s other new squad, TCU.

— E-mail:

Text Only
Latest Sports
  • Steelers to retire Hall of Famer Greene's No. 75

    The Pittsburgh Steelers are retiring Hall of Fame defensive end Joe Greene's number No. 75.

    July 30, 2014

  • Steelers' Bell looking for more decisive, productive season

    Le'Veon Bell kept watching the tape over and over, equal parts pleased and puzzled by what he saw.

    July 30, 2014

  • Charges dropped against WVU RB Smallwood

    Prosecutors said all charges against 20-year-old Wendell Smallwood, who had been charged with witness tampering in the case, have been dropped.

    July 30, 2014

  • cato Word is out on Marshall's Cato

    Rakeem Cato is easily the face of Marshall football. He also has been mentioned as a darkhorse candidate for the Heisman Trophy. That status is legitimate.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • bush Bush making Saints look good

    For his first four seasons, Rafael Bush was simply looking to land on a roster — any roster.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Practice, not temps, heats up for Saints
    The temperatures may have only been in the low 70s Tuesday afternoon at the Saints new practice facility at The Greenbrier, but now a third of the way into the 15 practices, it’s clear that the heat has turned up with playing time and positions on the line.

    July 30, 2014

  • Bowles has a support system
    Colin Bowles, the 14-year-old little brother of Corey, is coming into his own as a successful athlete. The younger Bowles competed last week at the U.S. Junior Amateur in The Woodlands, Texas, making the cut before bowing out in match play. Right there beside Colin, as he has been his entire life, was older brother Corey,

    July 30, 2014

  • Terre Haute hands Miners 2-1 loss in 11 innings

    Ryan Sabo singled home Clayton Smithson in the bottom of the 11th inning to lift the Rex to the win and put the West Virginia Miners’ postseason hopes in serious jeopardy

    July 30, 2014

  • WVU’s Smallwood waives preliminary hearing

    West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood, arrested on a felony charge of witness intimidation in a first-degree murder case, waived his preliminary hearing Monday, his case now being moved to Superior Court, where more serious crimes are argued, according to The News Journal.

    July 29, 2014

  • Steelers LB Spence caps lengthy comeback

    The whistle blew and Sean Spence sprinted forward, each cathartic step distancing the linebacker from the horrific knee injury that threatened to end his NFL career before it even really began.

    July 29, 2014

Saints Training Camp