Smith keeps WVU perfect in win over Texas
AUSTIN, Texas — West Virginia's biggest challenge this season required another big effort from quarterback Geno Smith.
Smith tossed four touchdown passes against the best defense he faced this year, as No. 8 West Virginia held on for a 48-45 win over No. 11 Texas on Saturday night in front of a record 101,851 fans at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
Considered the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, Smith overcame two lost fumbles, including one that resulted in a Texas touchdown, to guide the Mountaineers (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) to their first road win in their new conference.
“A lot of things worked for us,” Smith said. “We won as a team.
“I have some great teammates and great coaches.”
With the Longhorns concentrating on stopping Smith, running back Andrew Buie carried 31 times for a career-high 207 yards. His 5-yard touchdown run gave the Mountaineers a 10-point lead with 1:18 to play.
Smith, held under 300 yards passing for the first time this season, completed 25 of 35 for 268 yards and four TDs. He has not thrown an interception.
After building a 14-point lead, West Virginia's pass defense fell apart as Texas (4-1, 1-1) took a 28-27 halftime lead.
It was the first time this year the Mountaineers trailed at the half.
West Virginia got off to a fast start, making it 7-0 on the game's opening drive when Smith passed to Stedman Bailey for an 8-yard touchdown.
Texas answered to make it 7-7, but the Mountaineers regained the lead at 14-7 on Smith's 40-yard scoring toss to Tavon Austin. Austin caught a short fourth-down pass across the middle and ran away from defenders to score untouched.
The Mountaineers extended their lead to 21-7 on Buie's 4-yard scoring run early in the second quarter.
Texas, however, scored 14 unanswered points to make 21-21. Included was a Longhorns fumble recovery in the end zone following a sack of Smith.
West Virginia appeared to be poised to strike again, but J.D. Woods dropped a slant pass before reaching the end zone. The Mountaineers settled for a 37-yard Tyler Bitancurt field goal to make it 24-21.
Running back Joe Bergeron scored his third touchdown of the game late in the first half, giving Texas a 28-24 lead.
Smith again led the Mountaineers into scoring range when another one of his receivers betrayed him.
This time, a wide-open Buie stumbled and fell on his way to the end zone. Bitancurt's 41-yard field goal on the final play of the half made it 28-27.
Texas kicker Anthony Fera, who transferred from Penn State, missed a field goal in the fourth that would have tied the score 41-41.
After scoring a late touchdown to make it 48-45 in the final seconds, Texas failed to recover an onside kick, and West Virginia was able to run out the clock.
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.