By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
If you want it easy, go be a chemist or a doctor or a coal miner.
Football coaching isn’t for you.
Certainly it hasn’t been easy for West Virginia University’s Dana Holgorsen. His team had lost three in a row, two of them crushing defeats in the fourth quarter; he was playing on the road as a two-touchdown underdog where his team had not won a game.
While a victory didn’t assure him a trip to a bowl game, it would make it far more feasible, just as it made more feasible his return as coach of the Mountaineers next season.
He was certainly facing a must-win situation, fell behind early to a team that normally plays better late in a game than early, found a way to overcome mistakes, take advantage of probably more breaks than any team deserves to get and beat TCU, 30-27, in overtime.
WVU’s fourth victory in nine games – they need to win two of their final three to become bowl eligible – erased the bad memories left from last year’s 39-38 double-overtime home defeat put on the Mountaineers by TCU.
“This is the same exact game as last year but we had a chance to put it away in overtime,” Holgorsen said as he was walking off the field.
The hero was a redshirt freshman placekicker, Josh Lambert.
Bothered by some painful muscles in his butt, he proved to be a bigger pain in the butt to the Horned Frogs as his overtime field goal from 34 yards out was true, his third field goal of the game.
“I couldn’t watch it. I was down on my knees with my eyes closed,” defensive tackle Shaq Rowell admitted.
It came after Rowell and the WVU defense had stuffed TCU on its overtime possession. Helped by a foolish penalty, the Mountaineers put quarterback Casey Pachall in a fourth-and-30 hole from which all they could do was ask Jaden Oberkrom to attempt a 62-yard field goal.
“He’s a great kicker. His school is not far from mine,” said Lambert, also a Texan, “and there was no doubt in my mind he had the leg for it. The kick missed left. It was far enough. It would have been good from 68 or 70 yards.”
That’s like a 400-yard drive in golf … out of bounds. Might make you feel macho, but you don’t get anything for it.
Lambert hit his field goal despite battling injuries, including groin issues and problems with those muscles in his butt. Still, three of his four misses this year have been from beyond 50 yards and he’s hit 13 of 17 for the season.
How West Virginia and TCU got to the moment of his field goal was filled with so many twists and turns that it could have been made into one of those ESPN 30 for 30 movies.
Charles Sims was good for the Mountaineers, Clint Trickett was good … and bad.
The defense was outstanding and the pressure put on quarterback Casey Pachall was spectacular, pounding him over and over, unrelenting even as he threw for 394 yards and 3 touchdowns.
What can you say about Sims, who finally reached the heights he’d been advertised as being capable of reaching, rushing for 154 yards and a touchdown and catching three passes for 35 yards and a score.
“I can’t say enough about that kid right there,” offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said, pointing to Sims. “That doesn’t happen a lot against coach Patterson.”
Trickett threw two interceptions and threw two other passes that should have been interceptions, one dropped and one run back for TD only to be nullified by a penalty on All-American cornerback Jason Verrett.
One of the two interceptions that counted didn’t hurt, either, even though it was brought back to the 2. With a chance to put the game pretty much away, Trevone Boykin fumbled at the WVU 2, giving the ball back to the Mountaineers and igniting them on a streak where they scored on three straight possessions.
The first score was a 42-yard field by Lambert.
One play later WVU had the ball again, cornerback Icky Banks making up for blowing a coverage that resulted in a 94-yard TD that forced last year’s game into overtime, with a spectacular interception that led to Trickett hitting Cody Clay with a swing pass that he took tiptoeing down the sideline and diving into the end zone for a go-ahead TD.
Next came another drive that ended with a swing pass to Sims for a score and a 27-17 lead with 7:11 left, but Pachall courageously led his team back, rallying as they did last year to force overtime.
TCU had the ball first in overtime but Kyle Rose made a huge play to throw Waymon James for a 6-yard loss which was followed by a dead-ball foul that pushed them back 15 more yards, setting the stage for the dramatic ending with the first game-winning field goal Lambert had ever kicked at any level.
NOTES: WR Ronald Carswell was sent home for breaking team rules and his status with the team is unknown. … CB Daryl Worley, injured last week, played well in the game coming off the bench and LB Doug Rigg dressed and made the trip. … TCU QB Casey Pachall was starting for the first time since Sept. 7, when he broke his non-throwing arm. He passed for 394 yards and 3 TDs in this game but was pounded by the defense. … TCU’s No. 2 receiver, Brandon Carter, was a scratch against WVU because of family issues … This is the first time TCU Coach Gary Patterson has ever lost three straight games in his 13 years at the school.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.