West Virginia victory a month in the making

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It took a full month and a flight to Fort Worth, Texas, for the clouds to break and for good fortune to finally shine on the West Virginia football team.

The Mountaineers defeated TCU, 30-27, on an overtime field goal by redshirt freshman Josh Lambert Saturday to secure West Virginia's first road win of the season and bring an end to a three-game losing streak.

"We needed that win," coach Dana Holgorsen said, "and I was proud of the way our guys didn't quit."

The Mountaineers (4-5, 2-4 Big 12) needed that win to put the past month behind them. The drought began with a 73-42 loss to Baylor (the most points allowed by West Virginia since 1904) and included consecutive second-half collapses.

West Virginia won the game but not before falling behind, 17-3, in the first half. The Mountaineers went on a 21-point run to take the lead, but allowed 10 points in the final three minutes to send the game into overtime.

The teams went into overtime a year ago, too, when the Horned Frogs came away with a 39-38 double-overtime victory. This time, the battle of 3-5 teams swung toward the Mountaineers on the strength of Lambert's right leg.

"I was just proud of how we hung in there," Holgorsen said. "That's all we talked about all week was getting to the fourth quarter and doing your job, trying to find a way to win. We did, at the end of the day, we did."

Finished, outlasted, survived -- take your pick.

"Anytime you can win in college football it's not easy," defensive coordinator Keith Patterson said. "You want to celebrate every victory because they're hard to come by. Good programs and good teams are not just going to lay down and let you win -- they're competitive."

The first of many turning points Saturday came midway through the second quarter when West Virginia running back Charles Sims, the steadiest offensive performer this season, got loose twice on the same drive, rushing for 29 and 31 yards and waltzing into the end zone for West Virginia's first touchdown.

In the third quarter, quarterback Clint Trickett found fullback Cody Clay and Sims for touchdown receptions on back-to-back drives, another sign of progress in the passing game.

"I was beginning to wonder what touchdowns looked like, then we got two on consecutive drives which was -- wow," Holgorsen said.

Sims finished with a season-high 154 rushing yards, 35 receiving yards and two touchdowns. The only thing he didn't get was the winner.

West Virginia plays host to Texas (6-2, 5-0 Big 12) Saturday for a prime-time matchup at Milan Puskar Stadium. The Mountaineers need wins in two of their final three games to be bowl-eligible.


Stephen J. Nesbitt: snesbitt@post-gazette.com, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.

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