“It felt like we were pretty good,” said WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen, who is 26-19 in four years at the school. “We were disappointed in the outcome of the Oklahoma and Alabama games … We didn’t feel good about just being in the game. I commend our players.”
“Today we came out and we finished … It’s one of the greatest feelings ever,” said running back Andrew Buie.
Baylor (6-1, 3-1 Big 12 Conference) came into the game as the best-ranked offense in the country but finished with just 223 yards through the air and 95 yards on the ground. Its 318-yard total against West Virginia (5-2, 3-1) is nearly half of what the Bears were averaging this season.
“Give all the credit to the kids. They played so hard,” said defensive coordinator Tony Gibson. “I thought we could affect them with our pressure … I didn’t think we could be as effective as we were, though.
“Baylor is going to move the football and score points on just about anyone they play. For us to do what we did today, I’ve never been a part of a defensive effort like that in 20 years of coaching.”
Baylor was just 3-of-16 on third down and 0-of-2 on fourth down, as the Mountaineers used a high-pressure man-to-man defense that really threw off star quarterback Bryce Petty.
WVU had so much success despite not having its top two cornerbacks. Daryl Worley and Terrell Chestnut went down with injuries in the first half and forced second-stringers Ishmael Banks and Ricky Rumph into the spotlight.
“The feeling was indescribable. We could just taste the victory,” Banks said. “We remembered those games against Alabama and Oklahoma and knew we had to finish.”
In total, WVU finished with four sacks and 10 tackles for loss, as pass-rushing specialist Shaq Riddick, who had three sacks and four tackles for loss, led the defense.
“Getting the W is so much more important to me than the three sacks,” Riddick said. “We let two top five teams slip away, and we didn’t want that to happen today.”
After a rough first quarter, the Mountaineers settled and outscored Baylor 34-14 the rest of the way. Quarterback Clint Trickett, who had 322 yards and three touchdowns despite fumbling and throwing an interception in the first half, led WVU offensively.
The Baylor defense had no answer for the Mountaineers’ passing attack. Kevin White recorded eight catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns including a decisive one-hander in the fourth quarter. It was White’s seventh straight 100-yard game – a school record. He has more than 1,000 yards receiving this season. Teammate Mario Alford also pulled in a fourth-quarter touchdown with less than eight minutes to play to seal the victory.
The Mountaineer receivers were held and interfered with on many occasions on Saturday. In fact, Baylor recorded 18 penalties for 215 yards – a Big 12 record.
WVU was without leading rusher Rushel Shell for much of the game after he came down with a foot injury in the first quarter. While Holgorsen said Shell will be fine, it was a trio of backs who picked up the slack. Wendell Smallwood, Dreamius Smith and Buie combined to rush for 150 yards.
Petty finished 16-of-36 for 223 yards and two touchdowns, a poor performance for his standards.
“This is what you play for … the moments when everyone is excited … It’s what it’s all about,” said linebacker Wes Tonkery, a West Virginia native, who led the team with eight tackles.