The 4th quarter started in eventful fashion as the Rutgers passing game kept the Mountaineer defense on its heels and the Knights drove effortlessly down the field. Once stopped inside the twenty yard line, Rutgers set up a fake field goal which was almost executed perfectly, but was broken up at the last instant by Darwin Cook.
The Mountaineers moved the ball convincingly on the next drive behind big rushes from Dustin Garrison and Shawn Alston and a long reception by Stedman Bailey, his second big catch of the game. The drive ground its way down to the one yard line where Shawn Alston was stopped on 3rd and goal. Dana Holgorsen elected to go for it, and Geno Smith scrambled out of a broken play for a one yard touchdown dive. WVU kicker Tyler Bitancurt then bounced the point after off of an upright, to give the Mountaineers a 34-31 lead.
After playing an impressive half already the defense came up with another big play. Julian Miller opportunistically jumped on a Gary Nova fumble which slipped out of his hands, presumably an effect of the wet weather.
Tavon Austin single handedly made Rutgers pay for their costly mistake, first scampering for 16 yards on another toss play. Austin followed that up one play later with a 20 yard touchdown reception where he made one man miss and then accelerated towards the endzone. The Mountaineers struggled on both sides of the ball in the first half, but came up strong in the second, scoring 20 consecutive unanswered points to take a 41-31 lead.
The Mountaineers held on to defeat Rutgers for the 17th consecutive time. The first half was ugly, but the second featured some impressive displays from the Blue and Gold. While the offense still wasn’t as explosive as many would like, Alston, Bailey and Austin all showed great resolved and helped will the Mountaineers back into the ballgame. The defense, which surrendered a whopping 31 first half points, threw a shut out in the second frame.
As WVU returns home next week to face Louisville, a myriad of questions remain about this Mountaineer team. Its hard to say how the final five Big East games will play out, but it’s safe to say that they won’t be boring.