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Sooners outlast Mountaineers 50-49 in record-setting night

The SportsXchange

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Oklahoma's Landry Jones hit wide receiver Kenny Stills with his sixth touchdown pass of the game, a 5-yard strike with 24 seconds left, to lift the Sooners to a thrilling 50-49 victory over West Virginia on Saturday.

Jones broke his own Oklahoma school record with 554 passing yards. Stills made 10 receptions for 92 yards and four touchdowns.

The No. 12 Sooners overcame an huge performance by the Mountaineers' Tavon Austin, who set Big 12 and school records with 572 all-purpose yards.

The nation's leading receiver with 96 receptions entering the game, Austin was moved to running back by coach Dana Holgorsen in a surprise decision. Austin displayed an amazing array of moves that took him back to high school days at Dunbar in Baltimore, Md., when he accounted for more than 9,000 all-purpose yards.

Austin rushed 21 times for 344 yards, a West Virginia school record, while catching four passes for 82 yards and returning seven kicks for 142 yards.

"Obviously, we weren't ready for it," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said of Austin's position change. "It did really mess us up what we were doing and how we needed to play. It's something we'll have to dissect tomorrow and see what our answers could be to make improvement -- we need to."

Austin is a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, which goes to the nation's top receiver, but he agreed to move to running back.

"I had said a couple of things to Coach Holgorsen and the coaching staff about putting me back there a couple of times," Austin said. "I didn't think I was going to get it 21 times. I always told them that's what I did in high school, and I still have it a little bit."

Austin's versatility mystified Oklahoma (8-2, 6-1 Big 12), but he couldn't prevent West Virginia (5-5, 2-5) from taking its fifth loss in a row.

Mountaineers receiver Stedman Bailey wound up with 13 catches for 205 yards and four touchdowns, while quarterback Geno Smith went 20-for-35 for 320 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.

Jalen Saunders (seven catches, 123 yards, one touchdown) and Justin Brown (six catches, 112 yards) enjoyed big receiving games for the Sooners. Jones completed 38 of 51 passes. He was intercepted once.

"He made great throws at important times, and the receivers -- again, I'm so pleased about them," Stoops said.

In the end, West Virginia finished the game with 778 total yards ... and another loss.

"They made one more play than we did," a distraught Holgorsen said. "The kids played hard. How many losses like this do we have to go through? I don't know. We've got two games left. Hopefully, we can get back out there and get to work and try to come up with a couple of wins. It's a tough loss, but we have to regroup."

The game came down to the fourth quarter, a spectacular finish that saw West Virginia score 19 points but give up 12, which were just enough to lose the game.

Smith, who had his struggles early, eventually found himself, throwing touchdown passes of 4, 8 and 33 yards to Bailey in the final period.

The last one, a beautiful 40-yard strike, put West Virginia up with 2:53 to go and needing only one stop.

Fat chance.

First, the special teams melted down and allowed the Sooners to return the kickoff 46 yards to the Oklahoma 46. Jones then completed a pass to Stills for 6 yards, one to Brown for 36 and another to Brown for 10 before the game-winner to Stills.

West Virginia tried to recover, but a Hail Mary pass from Smith to Ryan Nehlen was incomplete as time ran out.

NOTES: The game marked Oklahoma's first trip to West Virginia ... Holgorsen invited a number of former players to address his slumping team before the game, including former quarterback Pat White and former defensive end Bruce Irvin, a first-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in last year's NFL draft ... Jones moved into second place in the Big 12 and fifth place in NCAA passing history as he went past 15,000 career yards .. Jones also became the third quarterback in Football Bowl Subdivision history to throw for at least 3,000 yards in four straight seasons. The others were Timmy Chang of Hawaii and Kellen Moore of Boise State.
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