WVU downs Iowa State to snap 5-game losing streak
College Football Videos
AMES, Iowa — A week earlier, Tavon Austin scored what appeared to be the game-winning touchdown for West Virginia, only to be betrayed by his defense.
Given a second chance against Iowa State on Friday, the Mountaineers' defense came up big.
WVU backed up Austin's 75-yard touchdown catch at the 6:31 mark in the fourth quarter with a goal-line stop to preserve a much-needed 31-24 win in front of 53,792 fans at Jack Trice Stadium.
Safety Darwin Cook's hit on Iowa State running back Jeff Woody caused a fumble that was recovered by fellow safety Karl Joseph in the end zone for a touchback with less than four minutes remaining.
“I was thinking, ‘This can't happen again,'” Joseph said. “Cook just made a great play, and I recovered the fumble.”
The win snapped a five-game losing streak — WVU's longest since 1986 — and helped the Mountaineers regain confidence after suffering two losses during the streak in the closing minutes.
West Virginia (6-5, 3-5 Big 12) also became bowl eligible.
“There were plenty of opportunities to say enough's enough and quit fighting. I'm proud of our guys. We hung in there and made enough plays to win the game,” coach Dana Holgorsen said.
Heavy, swirling winds and Iowa State's defense stifled WVU's passing attack early. Quarterback Geno Smith was held to 36 passing yards in the first quarter, but the Mountaineers countered with a strong running game.
Senior Shawne Alston rushed for a career-high 130 yards and a touchdown, while Alston added 74 yards rushing.
Smith completed 22 of 31 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns.
Tyler Bitancurt's 40-yard field goal gave WVU a 3-0 lead early in the first quarter. The Mountaineers maintained the lead after one quarter as their defense held Iowa State without a score on its first three possessions.
Navigating the wind better in the second quarter, Smith connected on his first two passes for 50 yards, both to Stedman Bailey. One play later, Alston scored on a 1-yard run to make it 10-0.
Iowa State (6-6, 3-6) answered. Redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Richardson directed the Cyclones 69 yards in 10 plays. Richardson's 11-yard touchdown pass to Jerome Tiller in the corner of the end zone sliced WVU's led to 10-7.
The Mountaineers' offense, however, was on a roll. Alston rushed for 25 yards on two carries, and Andrew Buie gained 15 more yards on a pair of rushes. An offsides penalty against Iowa State gave the Mountaineers first-and-5 at the 15. Two plays later, Smith's 6-yard pass to Bailey made it 17-7 with 4:10 remaining before intermission.
Iowa State scored its second consecutive touchdown, driving 71 yards in nine plays. Richardson's 18-yard touchdown strike to Josh Lenz made it 17-14 with 18 seconds left before halftime.
Bitancurt's 44-yard field goal extended WVU's lead to 20-14 in the third quarter.
Iowa State took its first lead of the game on its next possession. Mixing the run with the pass, Richardson capped a seven-play, 62-yard drive with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Quenton Bundrage that made it 21-20.
Thanks to a suddenly stubborn defense, WVU regained the lead at 23-21 on Bitancurt's 35-yard field goal that bounced off the upright and went through.
The Mountaineers got the ball when their defense held on downs. Austin's 42-yard punt return set up WVU in good field position.
Iowa State, though, answered with a field goal of its own to take a 24-23 lead.
That set up Austin's late-game heroics. Fielding a short pass from Smith, Austin sprinted down the sideline to score untouched.
“Coach called a nice play,” Austin said, “our guys made nice blocks downfield, and it just felt good.”
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- West Virginia’s Riddick looking to build on Baylor performance
- West Virginia football notebook: Trickett wins game amid difficult day
- West Virginia notebook: Reserve RBs step up after injury to Shell