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West Virginia wins record-breaking shootout over Baylor

The SportsXchange

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- It didn't take West Virginia long to adapt to the Big 12 style of football.

With quarterback Geno Smith putting together a day unlike any other signal caller in WVU history, the Mountaineers went over and through Baylor for 70-63 victory in their first Big 12 game.

Smith continued to inscribe his name on the Heisman Trophy as he broke school records for completions (45), yards (656) and touchdowns (eight). He completed 45 of 51 passes.

"Statistically, it was my best game ever but I think I've had better games," Smith said.

Receiver Stedman Bailey caught 13 passes, breaking the record for yardage with 303 and scoring five touchdowns. Tavon Austin also caught a school record 14 passes for 215 yards with two touchdowns while J.D. Woods caught also tied the mark with 13 for 114 yards with one touchdown.

Nick Florence broke the Baylor school record, set by last year's Heisman winner Robert Griffin III, for yardage with 581 with five touchdowns.

"I thought Nick Florence had a great game," coach Art Briles said. "I thought he really handled himself well. He stayed in control of his emotions very well."

Baylor also had three 100-yard receivers as Terrance Williams broke Baylor records with 17 receptions for 314 yards with two touchdowns. Tevin Reese caught passes for 120 yards and Lanear Sampson 109.

The Bears gained 700 yards and could not win, while WVU gained 807 and had to struggle to win as Baylor kept coming at them.

"Our attitude was keep fighting. Keep charging and keep believing. It certainly wasn't a surrender attitude," Briles said.

WVU took a 56-35 lead only to have Baylor score consecutive touchdowns and turn the game back into a shootout unlike any that had ever been seen at Milan Puskar Stadium's Mountaineer Field.

"Not every Big 12 game is like this," said WVU Coach Dana Holgorsen. "Not every Big 12 offense is like this. I've been in this league going on 10 years now. It's the culture of the Big 12. I told everyone it was going to be different (in the Big 12). It's a very up-tempo league and we understand it is going to be a very up-tempo league."

Perhaps WVU center Joey Madsen summed up the Mountaineers' Big 12 debut the best.

"They wanted to introduce us to the Big 12. I think we introduced them to Mountaineer football," he said.

Still, it came down to one final drive for the Mountaineers, who needed to run out the clock. With about 2:30 left, Smith was faced with a second and 10 and threw maybe his only bad pass of the day.

"It was a terrible pass," he said. "Someone flashed right in front of my face as I threw it. The defensive back was in position to pick it and go in for a score."

But Woods reached out with one hand and grabbed the ball, making the first down.

"I love the fact that we always persevere," Smith said. "We played a tough Baylor team that had won nine in a row."

That came after an unbelievable first half before 60,012 fans, many of whom were here in the days when there once was an "Up-The-Middle Meter" in the Don Nehlen days of rock 'em, sock 'em running football.

But on Saturday, the two teams combined for 711 yards in the first half alone. Smith completed 26 of 28 passes for 288 yards with four touchdowns and could not get the lead because Florence threw for 296 yards. Sixty-seven of them came on the final play of the half, an incredible touchdown pass to Lanear Sampson as the clock expired.

Florence hit Sampson on the sideline and he slipped a tackle, broke clear and, as defenders closed in on him, they collided and went down in a heap. Sampson then ran into the end zone with the most improbable touchdown of the year.

WVU had worked hard to gain the 35-28 lead it could not protect by halftime, with Bailey catching three TD passes from Smith to give him 24 for his career, a school record. By the half, Austin had nine receptions for 107 yards, J.D. Woods eight for 72 and Bailey 7 for 93 as the game was tied 35-35.

Notes: Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby attended WVU's first conference game and served as Grand Marshal of the Homecoming parade on Friday night. ... WVU linebacker Jared Barber missed his second straight game with an unannounced injury while running back Ryan Clarke was out with an ankle injury from the Maryland game. ... Baylor has lost 26 consecutive games to ranked Big 12 teams on the road. ... West Virginia had not given up 50 points to an opponent in 22 years, since losing to Penn State in 1991. ... The 133 combined points were a WVU school record and the 1,507 combined yards of offense were a Milan Puskar Stadium record.
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