By Greg DeVries
After just one play from scrimmage, the West Virginia defense intercepted senior quarterback Nick Florence’s pass over the middle. The ball hit junior inside receiver Tevin Reese in the hands, but landed in the hands of the Mountaineer secondary.
Mountaineer quarterback Geno Smith moved the ball well until the Baylor defense sacked him on third down, forcing a 50-yard field goal attempt.
West Virginia kicker Tyle Bitancurt missed on what would have been the longest field goal of his career, and the Baylor offense took over.
Florence completed a 50-yard pass to senior wide receiver Terrence Williams to set up a senior runningback Jared Salubi 1-yard touchdown run.
Smith responded by completing six passes and earning a 15-yard pass interference penalty to move the ball into the red zone.
West Virginia running back Andrew Buie capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run of his own.
But Baylor kept the offense hot. Nine plays after the kickoff, junior running back Glasco Martin rushed for 7 yards and dove into the end zone to give Baylor the 14-7 lead.
As expected, Smith countered with the first touchdown pass of the game. Smith found J.D. Woods in the middle of the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown pass.
The first quarter ended square at 14.
On third and 11, Florence delivered a 27-yard pass to senior wide receiver Lanear Sampson. The drive ended on a junior kicker Aaron Jones 33-yard missed field goal, and West Virginia took over at its own 20-yard line.
The Baylor defense forced a three-and-out, and West Virginia was forced to punt. Norwood returned the punt 45 yards down to the West Virginia 23-yard line.
Terrence Williams caught a pass from Florence. After evading his defender, Williams tiptoed the sideline before diving for the pylon. Williams was ruled out of bounds two yards from the end zone.
Glasco Martin punched the ball in for his second score of the day.
Smith responded with a 47-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Stedman Bailey. Smith took the ball deep and took the top off of the defense to find Bailey in the end zone.
Florence answered with a 65-yard touchdown pass to Reese over the top of the Mountaineer defense. Baylor regained the lead 28-21.
Five plays later, Smith found Bailey in the back of the end zone for the equalizer.
West Virginia forced Baylor into their first punt of the day with 2:34 remaining in the first half. The Mountaineers took over at their own 13-yard line.
Smith marched his team down the field. With 29 seconds left, Smith threw a fade rout to Bailey and connected on Bailey’s third touchdown catch of the half.
With zeros on the clock, Florence scrambled and found Sampson on the sideline. Sampson accelerated quickly and outran the defense. The played was reviewed because Florence’s pass looked like it may have been a forward lateral, but the play stood as called on the field: touchdown.
The teams went into halftime tied at 35. The teams combined to gain 710 yards in the first half.
West Virginia received the ball to start the second half. Seven plays later, wide receiver Tavon Austin was streaking down the field and into the end zone to put the Mountaineers ahead 42-35.
A few plays after Austin had to leave the field because of a cramp in his calf, Smith found him on a 52-yard touchdown pass to put the Mountaineers up 49-35.
Baylor moved the ball into West Virginia territory. The Bears lined up for a 46-yard field goal, but Jones missed it to the right.
West Virginia took over, and Smith found Austin deep for a 47-yard gain. A few plays later, West Virginia was in the end zone to take a 21-point lead, 56-35.
After failing to score on their first few drives of the half, Florence lobbed the ball to the end zone and hit Williams for 37 yards. Baylor cut the lead to 14 points, 56-42.
The Bears forced West Virginia into anther three-and-out, and Baylor started their drive at their own 37-yard line.
Baylor took advantage of the opportunity, but they did so on the ground. Florence punched the ball in on a quarterback sneak to bring the score to 49-56.
On the next play from scrimmage, Smith threw an 87-yard touchdown pass to Bailey. This pushed West Virginia’s lead to 63-49.
Florence answered by marching the Bears down the field. On third and goal, Florence threw a fade to sophomore wide receiver Antwan Goodley.
With a one-score deficit, the Bears’ defense took the field again. But West Virginia’s offense couldn’t be stopped. Smith found Bailey in the end zone for the fifth time, this time for 39 yards.
With just over three minutes remaining, Florence hit Williams on a fade to cut the lead back to one score, 63-70.
Head coach Art Briles elected to trust his defense instead of kicking the onside kick. The Mountaineers ate the rest of the clock and won 70-63.
Smith finished 45-51, threw for 656 yards and 8 touchdowns. Florence threw for 581 yards and 5 touchdowns.