The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

January 5, 2012

Beaten to a pulp

Mountaineers shred record books in Orange Bowl rout

MIAMI — The West Virginia Mountaineers were tough to slow down, and only the Orange Bowl mascot could stop Darwin Cook.

Geno Smith tied the record for any bowl game with six touchdown passes, and the No. 23-ranked Mountaineers set a bowl scoring record Wednesday night with their high-powered offense. But safety Cook made the pivotal play by returning a fumble 99 yards for a touchdown to break the game open and help rout No. 14 Clemson 70-33.

Cook collided comically with mascot Obie after scoring one of the Mountaineers’ five TDs in the second quarter, including three in the final 2:29 for a 49-20 lead. It was the highest-scoring half by a team in a bowl game.

“I always envisioned making great plays,” Cook said. “If you think it will happen, it will happen.”

Tavon Austin tied a record for any bowl game with four touchdown catches. Smith went 31 for 42, and had 401 yards passing to break Tom Brady’s Orange Bowl record. Smith also ran for a score, helping West Virginia break the bowl record for points established six nights earlier when Baylor beat Washington 67-56 in the Alamo Bowl.

“Never could we imagine we’d put up 70 points,” Smith said.

The Mountaineers (10-3) won in their first Orange Bowl appearance and improved to 3-0 in Bowl Championship Series games.

“The guys wanted to come in and make a statement, and the only way you can do that is if you play well on all three sides of the ball,” coach Dana Holgorsen said.

Clemson (10-4) lost playing in its first major bowl in 30 years.

“We’re a better team than we played tonight,” coach Dabo Swinney said. “Just too many mistakes. But we’ll be back.”

The offensive showcase was the latest in a succession this bowl season, and perhaps the last. Defense is expected to dominate in the final BCS game Monday night when Louisiana State faces Alabama for the national title.

Tacklers had their hands full — or rather, they didn’t — on a chilly night in Miami. Smith and Austin combined on scoring passes of 8, 27, 3 and 37 yards, and Shawne Alston scored on two short runs for West Virginia, which totaled 589 yards and 31 first downs. Smith was chosen the game’s outstanding player.

Even when Clemson managed to corral the Mountaineers, the play wasn’t always over. Andrew Buie rolled over a defender but was never downed, so he got up and ran for an additional 18 yards.

Clemson couldn’t keep up, although Andre Ellington did score the game’s first points on a 68-yard run. First-team All-Americans Sammy Watkins and Dwayne Allen combined for only seven catches for 87 yards.

Amid the flurry of points, it was a defender who came up with second-longest scoring play in Orange Bowl history.

Clemson was on the verge of taking the lead in the second quarter when Ellington ran up the middle and disappeared into a heap at the 1. A teammate signaled touchdown, but the ball came loose and Cook grabbed it, then took off with nothing but the end zone in front of him.

“I saw the ball come loose,” he said. “I grabbed it. I didn’t hear a whistle, so I ran.”

After Cook crossed the goal line, he gleefully leaped on mascot Obie, a smiling orange, and they both tumbled to the turf. Obie rose unhurt and resumed her duties.

Cook and Obie met on the field after the game and shared a hug.

“I didn’t know you were a girl,” he told the mascot. “I apologize.”

The potential 14-point swing seemed to deflect the Tigers, who had moved the ball almost at will to that point.

“It was a pretty big moment,” Swinney said. “They hadn’t really stopped us. That was huge. Then it snowballed quickly.”

The Tigers were doomed when quarterback Tajh Boyd committed subsequent turnovers on consecutive Clemson plays.

After Smith ran 7 yards on a keeper for a 35-20 lead, Pat Miller intercepted Boyd’s pass. Smith flipped a 1-yard touchdown pass to Austin and, on the next play, a call was overturned, with the replay official determining Boyd had lost a fumble.

Alston then ran for a 1-yard touchdown with 4 seconds left in the half.

Defensive woes were nothing new for the Tigers, who won their first Atlantic Coast Conference title in 20 years but gave up at least 30 points in six regular-season games.

Clemson kept pace for a while, leading 17-14 after one period. It was the highest-scoring first quarter and first half in Orange Bowl history.

West Virginia went ahead for the first time early in the second period on an 80-yard touchdown drive capped by Austin’s 27-yard catch, making the score 21-17. Cook’s takeaway touchdown came next, and the Mountaineers were off to the races.

“You don’t score 70 points by being good on offense,” Holgorsen said. “You score 70 points by being good on all three sides of the ball.”

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • WVU, Tennessee finalize 2018 meeting

    West Virginia University and Tennessee have finalized their season-opening, Sept. 1, 2018, meeting in Charlotte, N.C., at Bank of America Stadium.
    Both teams will receive $2.5 million for the game and have a chance to earn up to $3.2 million with ticket incentives.
    Each team will buy 12,500 tickets and set aside 2,000 of its allotment for students.
    The game, played on the home field of the Carolina Panthers of the NFL, is being put on by the Charlotte Sports Federation.

    July 23, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Fleming, Billy.jpg WVU’s Fleming signs contract with Yankees

     Second baseman Billy Fleming of the West Virginia University baseball team has signed a professional contract with the New York Yankees, foregoing his upcoming senior season.
    “Ever since I was a little kid, it’s been my dream to play professional baseball,” Fleming said. “It is still surreal that I get to chase my dream, but I am ready to get after it. I loved my three years at WVU and want to thank all the coaches that made it possible for me to achieve my dream.”

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Growing demands on college athletes concerns Wyant

    Fred Wyant, one of the greatest quarterbacks in West Virginia University’s history, has lashed out at today’s growing demands on college athletes.
    The 80-year-old Star City resident led the Mountaineers to a 30-4 record as the starter from 1952-1955. Percentage-wise, it’s clearly the best-ever record by a QB in school annals.
    Wyant, a member of the WVU Sports Hall of Fame, came here after graduating with honors from Weston High School. That’s where WVU coach Art “Pappy” Lewis signed him to a four-year scholarship.

    July 23, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 22, 2014

  • Growing demands on college athletes concerns Wyant

    Fred Wyant, one of the greatest quarterbacks in West Virginia University’s history, has lashed out at today’s growing demands on college athletes.

    July 22, 2014

  • WVU’s Fleming signs with Yankees

    Second baseman Billy Fleming of the West Virginia University baseball team has signed a professional contract with the New York Yankees, foregoing his upcoming senior season.

    July 22, 2014

  • Quarterback front and center for WVU

    In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.

    July 22, 2014

  • WVU, Tennessee finalize 2018 meeting

    West Virginia University and Tennessee have finalized their season-opening, Sept. 1, 2018, meeting in Charlotte, N.C., at Bank of America Stadium.

    July 22, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos