Mountaineers Stub Their Toe at Oklahoma State
The Mountaineers dropped their Big 12 Conference opener to the Oklahoma State Cowboys 27-13. The game was filled with penalties and mistakes committed by West Virginia and ultimately kept them from being in better position to win the game.
Both teams got off to a rather slow start as there was no score after one and give credit to both defenses. The two defenses combined for four tackles for loss and did not allow really any explosive plays.
The Mountaineers came out pounding the ball on the ground with running back Leddie Brown and totaled 47 rushing yards in the first quarter alone. Head coach Neal Brown's play-calling was fairly conservative and didn't really take any shots down the field. The gameplan from the start was clear - get the run game going early and often.
The Cowboys kicked off the 2nd quarter with a bang as running back LD Brown went 66 yards up the gut, untouched for the Oklahoma State touchdown.
West Virginia began to march down the field after a big 41-yard play, but penalties put the Mountaineers in a bad spot and set up a 3rd and long. QB Jarret Doege held onto the ball a tad too long on 3rd down and coughed up the ball, and Oklahoma State defensive lineman Tyren Irby scooped it up and took it all the way back for a defensive score.
On the ensuing drive, West Virginia marched all the way back down into Oklahoma State territory, but Doege threw the ball short of the sticks, which forced the Mountaineers to trot on the field goal unit. If things couldn't have been any worse, the hold by Graeson Malashevich was bobbled, and the kick was unable to get off, erasing the opportunity for points once again.
Oklahoma State extended their lead to 17-0 off the foot of Alex Hale after the botched field goal by West Virginia. Cowboys QB Shane Illingworth hit Tylan Wallace for a first down, but Jared Bartlett was called for a roughing the passer penalty, which provided the OSU offense with a little help - something they didn't need.
Finally, after multiple long, methodical drives that resulted in no points, West Virginia got on the scoreboard with a 70-yard touchdown pass from Doege to Winston Wright Jr.
Oklahoma State got the ball back with just under two minutes remaining in the half and seemed as if they were willing to play conservative and take a 10 point lead into the half, but Dante Stills was flagged for a facemask; it changed the entire mindset of the Cowboys. Oklahoma State pushed their way back into field goal range, and Hale knocked through a 44-yard field goal to extend the lead to 20-7 at the half.
Both defenses continued their strong showing into the second half, and although the Mountaineer offense was not clicking on all cylinders, the defense kept them in the game.
Late in the third quarter, West Virginia linebacker Tony Fields II came up with a big interception of Shane Illingworth. The offense received some help after getting a pass interference call on a pass intended for Bryce Ford-Wheaton, but the offense was unable to punch it in for six. Evan Staley hit a 36-yard field goal to cut the lead down to 20-10 just before the end of the third quarter.
The Mountaineer defense didn't allow much on Oklahoma State's opening drive of the 4th quarter and forced a punt. Running back Alec Sinkfield popped a nice 14-yard run to get the West Virginia offense going and despite getting deep into plus territory, the Mountaineers had to settle for another field goal from Staley. With nine minutes remaining, Oklahoma State led 20-13.
After playing solid defense all game, West Virginia was unable to get a stop when they most needed it - in the latter half of the fourth quarter. Oklahoma State pounded the ball on the ground and just continued to find ways to move the football and chew away at the clock in the meantime. The Cowboys finished off the drive with a 23-yard Chuba Hubbard touchdown with just over a minute remaining, putting the dagger in the Mountaineers.
West Virginia (1-1, 0-1) will return to Morgantown to host Baylor next Saturday at noon.
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