Football, Local Sports, Sports, WVU Sports

West Virginia beat Baylor 70-63 on this day in Mountaineers football history

The beginning of WVU’s Big 12 era, set to launch at high noon that Saturday afternoon, Sept. 29, 2012, at home against Baylor, had been fully hyped for a full 365 days.

Second-year head coach Dana Holgorsen had been warning anyone who’d listen that the game would be a whole lot different than the 60,012 Mountaineer fans in attendance were used to watching in the Big East.

He wasn’t kidding.

WVU 70, Baylor 63.

Madden NCAA football, anyone? How ‘bout Big 12 basketball? They had to replace the scoreboard operators at halftime due to fatigue, as well as the lights in the scoreboard from overheating. The officials chain gang lost an average of 30 pounds each trying to catch up with play, considering that 19 touchdowns were scored, and other than WVU’s first TD drive (9 plays,75 yards, 3:40) and last TD drive (10-75, 4:54) there were no scoring drives that lasted over three minutes.


Baylor opened the floodgates at the 9:12 mark of the first quarter, and then the two soon-to-be rivals traded touchdowns at a steady pace until 4:54 remained in the second quarter, when Stedman Bailey hauled in his second TD pass from his Miramar, Fla., pitch-and-catch high school teammate Geno Smith to make it 28-28.

The Mountaineer defense finally forced a punt  and Smith ran the two-minute drill to perfection, hitting Bailey from the 2 to forge a 35-28 lead after an 8-play, 87-yard drive. But the offense turned out to be too efficient, leaving 29 seconds on the clock. Bears quarterback Nick Florence was able to scramble out of pressure as time expired in the half, and launch a pass downfield that was gathered in by Lanear Sampson and converted into a 67-yard TD to knot the score at 35-35.

Both teams put down the joysticks long enough to retreat to their locker rooms, but Smith & company picked  up where they left off in the second half. It took less than 10 minutes for the Mountaineers to score three times, on a pair of Tavon Austin catch-and-runs covering 45 and 52 yards, followed by Andrew Buie’s second 1-yard rushing score of the game.

Finally, at 56-35, some breathing room.

Or maybe not so much, as Florence took a mere six minutes to get Baylor into the end zone not once but twice, making it 56-49 with almost the entire fourth quarter left to play.

Twelve seconds and 87 yards later, another Smith to Stedman connection doubled the WVU lead back to 14, 63-56. But an 11-play, 86-yard Baylor TD drive sliced just 2:59 off the clock, and the WVU lead was back down to a single possession, with 10:49 on the clock.

Can anyone say ‘ball control offense’? Yep, the Mountaineers could, as their final (and relatively long five-minute) scoring jaunt was punctuated by a 39-yard TD reception by — wait for it — Bailey, his fifth, a new school record.

The clock read 5:55, the score read 70-56, and so, of course, Baylor was able to quickly drive 75 yards in 10 plays to score again on Florence’s fifth TD pass to make it 70-63 with 3:08 remaining. And it took a clutch, one-handed, 13-yard grab by WVU wide receiver J.D. Woods on third down to finally kill the clock.

Woods went 13-144 and 1 TD — and was third best on the list for WVU. Austin set a school record with 14 catches, good for 215 yards and those 2 TDs, while Bailey’s 13 snags totaled a record 303 yards. That, however, didn’t pace the receivers on the day, as Baylor’s Terrance Williams finished with 17 catches for 317 yards and two scores. Florence’s stellar game resulted in 29-of-47 for 581 yards, but it was Geno Smith who topped the stat parade, going off for an incredible 45-of-51 for 656 yards and 8 TDs, all WVU records.

No one was sure if this was actually football or a track meet in pads, but after the game, a nonplussed Holgorsen delivered the line of day:

“I would’ve been happy with a 6-3 win.”