WVU Swindles Chances In Loss to Sooners

Oklahoma saved a bunch of couches in Morgantown on Saturday night.

West Virginia had many opportunities to pull off the upset of the fourth-ranked Sooners on in front of a packed and striped Milan Puskar Stadium crowd. Turnovers in crucial moments and an inability to halt the OU running game kept the Mountaineers from earning the upset in a 45-33 loss to the Sooners.

Despite Oklahoma losing its starting running back for this game, backup Samaje Perine was unstoppable at times for the Sooners. He finished with 34 carries for 242 yards and four touchdowns.

It was just the second time in Mountaineer history that the defense allowed a running back to record that many yards and touchdowns in a game. The other was Pitt's Kevan Barlow in 2000.

Oklahoma finished with 301 yards on the ground, an average of 6.5 yards per carry. Overall, the Sooners had 510 total offensive yards.

"We knew exactly what they were going to do, and we couldn't stop them," said WVU defensive coordinator Tony Gibson.

Quarterback Clint Trickett, a dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate heading into the game, had two crucial turnovers in the second half, an interception following an OU turnover and a fumble, that allowed the Sooners to hold onto and extend their lead. He also threw a bad incompletion on fourth down at the OU 35-yard line with less than nine minutes to play that likely sealed the win for the Sooners.

In total, Trickett finished 25-of-41 for 376 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. WVU’s receiving duo of Mario Alford and Kevin White were sensational once again. They combined for 17 catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns. West Virginia was forced to play with just two receivers for much of the game due to the pass rush of the Sooners.

The WVU running game was held in check by Oklahoma, though, as the Mountaineers only finished with 137 yards.

With the game tied at 24 heading into the second half, head coach Dana Holgorsen implored his team to finish the game strongly, something it wasn’t able to do in the two previous meetings with OU. It wasn’t meant to be, as the Mountaineers were outscored 21-9 in the second half.

Players of The Game
Kevin White
10 receptions
173 receiving yards
Wes Tonkery
1 interception
8 tackles
"It’s a game of momentum, and we had an opportunity to seize the momentum. But every time we had some success, they came right back. That’s a sign of a good team," Holgorsen said.

Oklahoma took its first lead since it was 3-0 on its first drive of the second half. Perine bulldozed his way through wimpy WVU tacklers into the end zone to make it 31-24. The crowd of 61,908 sat stunned.

WVU would add a field goal to cut the lead to 31-27 with 6:28 to play in the third quarter.

West Virginia turned the momentum on its next possession, as Wes Tonkery picked off Knight’s pass near midfield. On the next throw of the game, though, Trickett threw it right back to the Sooners on a greedy throw toward Jordan Thompson that was easily picked off.

Perine finished off another solid Oklahoma drive with a nice rushing touchdown to give the Sooners what seemed at that point to be an insurmountable lead of 38-27 with one minute left in the third quarter.

After a face-mask penalty on White, Trickett fumbled the ball near midfield and gave it back to the Sooners late in the third quarter. Later on, Trickett failed to complete a pass on fourth down at the Sooners' 35-yard line with under nine minutes to play, giving OU the ball back with an opportunity to run out the clock.

Oklahoma added another late touchdown.

"They just started to wear us down in the fourth quarter. It was very evident," Holgorsen said. Oklahoma took an early 3-0 lead before the Mountaineer defense started to take hold of the first quarter.

After the WVU offense struggled for much of the first quarter, Trickett found White wide open down the Mountaineer sideline, and he took it to the house for a 68-yard score to take a 7-3 lead.

Despite a holding penalty on a 44-yard field goal, kicker Josh Lambert boomed a 54-yard kick through the uprights – it would’ve been good from at least 60 – to make it 10-3. Lambert’s field goal tied for the second-longest field goal in school history.

Oklahoma used some trickery to score its next touchdown on its next drive as the game began to open up for the offenses. The Sooners drew up a masterfully run double-reverse pass for a touchdown, as receiver Durron Neal found Knight wide open in the corner of the end zone to make it 10-10 midway through the second quarter.

WVU would regain the lead less than two minutes later, as Trickett found Alford on a high-arching 30-yard pass that he caught with one foot in bounds for the touchdown. The play had to be reviewed after it was initially ruled an incompletion, but the Mountaineers would go up 17-10 following the reversal.

Perine came right back and scored a two-yard touchdown to tie the game up once more with 3:09 to play in the half.

Oklahoma attempted an onside kick to surprise the Mountaineers, but WVU was there to recover it at its 45-yard line. The quick-scoring second quarter continued, as WVU drove down the field in under two minutes and found the end zone once again behind a five-yard run from Shell. That made it 24-17 with 1:20 to play in the half. The drive was aided by a personal foul penalty from OU defensive end Charles Tapper.

Oklahoma would quiet the crowd and take all the momentum into the locker room at halftime after a 100-yard kickoff return from Alex Ross, who found a seam toward the middle of the field at the 25-yard line and cut it back to the right for the 100-yard touchdown to make it 24 all. Trickett would end the half by throwing an interception.

"That kind of got in our heads," White said. "They definitely took momentum there."

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