Austin American Statesman
WVU vs. Texas
The Longhorns had to go for their second straight fourth quarter comeback but ultimately fell short against the Mountaineers.
Geno Smith threw for 268 yards and four touchdowns to continue his Heisman campaign and lead No. 5 West Virginia (5-0,2-0) over No. 15 Texas (4-1,1-1) 48-45.
Smith now has 24 passing touchdowns on the season and has yet to throw an interception.
Three of those touchdown passes went to Stedman Bailey who now has 13 for the season, and finished the game with eight catches for 75 yards. The other went to Tavon Austin who had 10 catches for 102 yards, and lit up the Texas kickoff coverage.
In place of starter Shawne Alston, Andrew Buie ran the ball 31 times for 207 yards and two scores for West Virginia, including the essential nail in the coffin touchdown with 1:18 to play in the game to put the Mountaineers up 48-38.
David Ash continued his productive season throwing for 268 yards and a touchdown but may be best remembered in this game for a play where he wasn't even able to get a pass off. With the play clock winding down on 3rd and six at the WVU eight yard line, center Dominic Espinosa snapped the ball when Ash wasn't ready leading to a fumble and loss of 16 yards.
This in turn led to a missed field goal of 41 yards by Penn State transfer Anthony Fera, reinforcing that place kicking has been taken for granted by Texas fans over the past eight seasons thanks to the likes of Dusty Mangum, Ryan Bailey, Hunter Lawrence, and Justin Tucker.
Freshman Johnathan Gray had his best game as a Longhorn with 14 rushes for 87 yards in place of the injured Malcolm Brown. Joe Bergeron ran the ball 17 times for 45 yards and a career-high four touchdowns.
Texas was led in the receiving game by senior Jeremy Hills who caught six receptions for 67 yards. The lone touchdown went to senior Marquise Goodwin, who bounced back from a nasty hit to bring Texas within three with 15 seconds to play in the game.
Texas' defensive line did a good job applying pressure to Smith, with All American Alex Okafor sacking Smith twice and forcing two fumbles in the process. One of which was recovered by future first round pick Jackson Jeffcoat in the endzone for a Texas touchdown to help even the score at 21 apiece in the second quarter.
Texas was plagued by some questionable decisions to go for it on fourth down. One came on fourth down and four at the West Virginia 44 following a blocked field goal. Ash dropped back to pass but was pressured and threw a pass incomplete to Mike Davis, giving WVU a short field to score on.
The next was on 4th and 13 at the West Virginia 39 where Ash had no one open to throw the ball to so he forced it Davis' direction. Both of these resulted in turnovers on down, and gave all the momentum back to West Virginia. They are especially questionable calls considering the fact that Ash was a starting punter in high school and should have been able to easily pooch punt it in a similar fashion to how Colt McCoy did from 2007-2009.
Game Grade: B+
Texas has now lost eight straight games to ranked opponents and fell for the first time in a game within three points since 2006 (45-42 at Kansas State). This shows that while Texas isn't quite back to being a national power, it can put up the points needed to win (40 plus points in four straight games) but needs its defense to step up.
The Texas defense continued to miss tackles and let the Mountaineers' backup running back gash them at will. But there were some stretches in which the 'Horns had the momentum and forced WVU into fourth down situations. Yet West Virginia converted all five attempts after being held to 3-of-12 on third down.
The defense was missing Jordan Hicks who was out for the second straight game with an injury. His return is needed if Texas is to defeat number 13 Oklahoma (3-1, 1-1) in the Red River Rivalry in Dallas next Saturday at 11AM. The 'Horns should be confident after playing strong with perhaps the best team in the conference, but need to win next weekend if they have any hope of winning the conference title or making a BCS Bowl.