AUSTIN, Texas -- West Virginia's acclaimed offense nearly met its match Saturday night deep in the heart of Texas.
But quarterback Geno Smith and his No. 8 Mountaineers found a way to get it done, beating No. 11 Texas, 48-45, to climb to 5-0, and 2-0 in the Big 12 Conference.
The win silenced the largest crowd at Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium of 101,851.
"Great team win," West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. "I've never seen this place like that ... but it was loud. It was real loud.
"For us, trying to overcome that was something. That was pretty cool. I can't say enough about the team. It was a great team win."
West Virginia got a career game from sophomore running back Andrew Buie, who slashed his way through the Texas defense for 207 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries. He was key in multiple scoring drives, including the final one which ate up time and sealed the win.
"He carried us," said Smith, who was 25 for 35 for 268 yards and threw four touchdown passes but was sacked four times for 38 yards of losses.
"The offensive line did everything for me, for real," Buie said. "All I had to do was just trust them."
Holgorsen said the pressure Texas brought forced his offense to commit to the run early.
"If we would've dropped back to pass, drop back to pass, they would've had 12 sacks, maybe 20," Holgorsen said. "We felt it was going to be in the best interest of our football team to commit to the run. Those guys did a great job of executing."
But it never was easy.
A potentially disastrous turnover late in the fourth quarter nearly handed the game back to the Longhorns.
Smith was sacked deep in his own territory, fumbled, and Texas recovered at the Mountaineers 12.
A bad snap three plays later helped the West Virginia defense make a key stand before the Mountaineers offense started to move the chains again. Eventually, the drive resulted in a 5-yard touchdown run by Buie.
"We knew it would come down to who made the most critical plays," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "You've got to give them credit. They made critical plays."
Texas was not done, and the Longhorns managed another touchdown with 15 seconds left on an 8-yard pass from David Ash to Marquise Goodwin.
The Longhorns' onside kick was recovered by West Virginia, sealing the victory at last.
A strange turn of events left West Virginia trailing for the first time this season at halftime, 28-27.
The Mountaineers burst to a 21-7 lead in the first half and had a chance to stretch that lead to three scores with a fumble recovery at their own 38. But, after a loss of 4 yards on the first play, West Virginia ran a flea-flicker, Smith was sacked for a loss of 13 yards, then Buie easily was hauled down on third-and-27.
Holgorsen chose to send in place-kicker Tyler Bitancurt to punt for the first time this year.
That punt was deflected, and Texas started at midfield. And then, just like that, the Mountaineers' commanding lead spiraled away.
Texas needed three plays to cut the lead to 21-14 on Joe Bergeron's 2-yard run, then tied it thanks to a sterling defensive play.
On West Virginia's next possession, Alex Okafor sacked Smith, forcing a fumble at the 1. End Jackson Jeffcoat recovered it in the end zone, and it was 21-21.
The Mountaineers were held to a field goal with 4:51 left in the half, then Texas took a 28-24 lead on Bergeron's 1-yard touchdown run.
But, starting with 1:09 left in the half, Smith drove the Mountaineers into field-goal range. Bitancurt made that pay off, nailing a 41-yarder to make it 28-27.
Texas scored first in the second half on a 38-yard field goal, but Smith found a diving Stedman Bailey for a 9-yard touchdown pass and a 34-31 lead with 4:32 remaining in the third quarter.
Texas drove for another touchdown, this time on Bergeron's 4-yard run with 29 seconds left in the third. That made it 38-34 and set up a wild fourth quarter.
Jenn Menendez: firstname.lastname@example.org
First Published October 7, 2012 4:45 AM