Football, Sports, WVU Sports

WVU gashed in 4th quarter, Gordon’s 282 rushing yards the 2nd-most ever against the Mountaineers

MORGANTOWN — Oklahoma State running back Ollie Gordon looked unstoppable on Saturday night, and with the way West Virginia was trying to defend him, he was. 

Gordon racked up the second-most rushing yards WVU has ever allowed to a single player, running for 282 yards and four touchdowns as the Cowboys rode him to a 48-34 win.

Only Kansas’ Khalil Herbert ever had more rushing yards against the Mountaineers,  291 during a game in 2017.

The majority of Gordon’s production came in the fourth quarter when the sophomre ran for 149 yards and three touchdowns on just nine carries.

“We didn’t fit the runs, they didn’t do anything special, there weren’t any surprises,” WVU head coach Neal Brown said. “We just missed a bunch of tackles and ran by the ball. That’s what it looked like from the sideline. We ran right by the ball and missed tackles.”

Brown was adamant after the game that Gordon’s fourth-quarter success wasn’t due to his defense fatiguing late in the game.

“He didn’t get fatigued, that’s the way I think about it,” Brown said. “It’s a hell of a lot harder to run the ball 29 times than it is to stand back and tackle. Was fatigue a factor? Maybe. As much as we train and prepare, I have a really hard time saying fatigue got us.”

Gordon had eight runs of more than 10 yards, including five over 25 yards.

“We hurt ourselves a lot in that fourth quarter,” said safety Anthony Wilson. “It was really just self-inflicted things we know we could’ve done better. We’ve got to clean up, that’s the biggest thing.”

Fourth Down Failure

West Virginia had a chance to get back into the game late. Trailing by seven, WVU faced fourth and two at midfield. Brown called a zone read where quarterback Garrett Greene kept the ball and was tackled for a four-yard loss. OSU went on to score a touchdown, effectively putting the game away.

“We should’ve handed it off,” Brown said. “Garrett played his tail off, he gave us a chance to win. Sometimes he thinks he’s Superman and can make all the plays, but that read told him to give it and he’s got to give it.”

Greene threw for 249 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 117 yards, but admitted he made the wrong mistake on that fourth down.

“It’s just a complete and total misread by me,” Greene said. “I try to be Superman sometimes and it bites me in the ass. That was one of those instances.”

Running back CJ Donaldson, who had just 39 yards on 13 carries, was the other option on the play and Brown thought the ball should’ve gone to him.

“My hunch is (Greene) just tried to make a play,” Brown said. “He said ‘I’m going to make a play’ and the (defensive) end got upfield and he should’ve handed it.”

Special Teams Mistake

WVU led 24-20 going into the fourth quarter, and was going to get the ball back following a defensive stop. But the game flipped when cornerback Andrew Wilson-Lamp ran into returner Preston Fox on the ensuing punt, allowing Oklahoma State to recover in plus territory.

“We were going to get the ball back up four with 14 minutes to go,” Brown lamented. “I can’t explain it, I can’t explain that one. We work that twice a week, that very situation. That’s a hard one for me to explain.”

Oklahoma State converted that into a touchdown to take a 27-24 lead and while WVU tied the game 27-27, the Mountaineers never led for the remainder of the contest.

“We’re sitting there with a chance to win in the fourth quarter,” Brown said. “If this was a game that we were never in or if it wasn’t competitive, then you go ‘how do we get them ready?’ That wasn’t the case. We were right there in the fourth quarter with a chance to win and we didn’t get it done.”

Slow Starts

West Virginia’s first three possessions of the game were a three-and-out, a fumble on a completed catch and an interception, which allowed Oklahoma State to build a 10-0 lead in the first quarter.

WVU eventually battled back and led 17-13 at halftime. 

“We’re down 10-0 and I thought we showed some real determination to get back into it and take the lead going into half,” Brown said. “We overcame that slow start, we just need to finish better.”

WVU had a similarly slow start to the second half, beginning with two three-and-outs that allowed OSU to take a 20-17 lead.

“Coming off a loss like that to Houston, we were itching to get back,” Greene said. “We had some things go our way and some things not go our way in the first half. Eventually, we kind of got going.”