The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

November 6, 2011

Special teams woes doom WVU, lead to home loss

MORGANTOWN — VIDEO: West Virginia vs Louisville football

Somewhere the sun is shining

Somewhere the sky is blue

Somewhere the silver lining is shining for me and you


— “Somewhere the Sun is Shining,” lyrics by Jason Harwell

It was a dark and dreary sunlit day at Milan Puskar Stadium Saturday, a day sick in disbelief and sicker still in the way West Virginia University lost another football game.

The story the scoreboard told was 38-35 in favor of Louisville over the West Virginia Mountaineers, a story that left WVU 2-2 in the Big East Conference.

But that was not the story at all.

“We lost the turnover battle, couldn’t punt and couldn’t kick. It’s pretty easy to figure out what happened,” coach Dana Holgorsen said.

That is saying a mouthful.

And it doesn’t tell half the story.

This is another of those games West Virginia coulda and shoulda won, but didn’t, and it had no one to blame but itself, not even Louisville, which now is 5-4 overall and 3-1 in the Big East. WVU fell to 6-3 and 2-2 in the Big East.

Oh, Louisville played a good game, better offensively than anyone expected. It unveiled a freshman quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater who is going to be a star for the next four years, hitting 21 of 27 passes for 246 yards and making some spectacular plays while under pressure.

But Louisville doesn’t win the game if WVU has any clue on how to kick the ball.

A week earlier, at Rutgers, punter Michael Molinari was a key element of the victory with some spectacular punting.

For all intents and purposes, WVU’s season-long punting problems seemed solved.

So what does he do as Louisville pressures him? Gets off consecutive punts of 12 and 11 yards. The 12-yard punt did not hurt WVU other than in field position. The 11-yard punt wound up in a Louisville touchdown that tied the game at 21.

“When you shank two punts and it doesn’t flip the field and puts us in a bad situation, you still have to go out and play defense,” Holgorsen said.

That, obviously, was costly, but that gets multiplied a hundred fold by the trials and tribulations of placekicker Tyler Bitancurt, who missed one field goal of 32 yards and had another blocked and returned for a touchdown from the Louisville 6.

This is the same Tyler Bitancurt who three weeks back was nominated as a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award, presented to the best placekicker in the nation. Since then he has missed two extra points, a 32-yard field goal and had another blocked and returned for a touchdown.

Suffice it to say he need not clear out space in his trophy case for the award.

“When you move down the field and are in position to knock the ball through and you have to make it, you do the job up front,” Holgorsen said. “That’s a 10-point swing. It’s obvious to figure out what the difference in the game was.”

This killer of a play came on the first play of the fourth quarter, WVU trailing, 24-21, but sitting on the Louisville 6 with fourth and two, about to tie the score. Defensive back Adrian Bushell came roaring around from the right side, laid out in front of Bitancurt and knocked the ball sideways.

There to scoop it up was fleet defensive back Andrew Johnson at the 18-yard line, and he ran 82 yards for the touchdown, entering the end zone blowing kisses to the WVU cheerleaders, a display that got Louisville a 15-yard penalty on a play that changed the game.

The day turned dark, right there.

Text Only
WVU Sports
  • Arrest warrant out for WVU recruit

    West Virginia University’s newest men’s basketball recruit, Tarik Phillip, has an order out for his arrest in North Carolina, according to a story in The Dominion-Post, which said three Gaston County Magistrate office spokespersons confirmed.

    April 20, 2014

  • WVU baseball powers past Oklahoma, 9-5

    The WVU baseball team tied a season high with 18 hits to defeat Oklahoma, 9-5, on Saturday afternoon at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The win gives the Mountaineers their second Big 12 series win of the season and improves the overall record to 19-16 and 4-7 in conference play. Oklahoma drops to 25-16 overall and 5-7 in Big 12 play.

    April 20, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma

    Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 2014

  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

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