By Krista Pirtle
Who would have thought that scoring 63 points, aka nine touchdowns, in a single football game would not win?
That happens when the other team, West Virginia in this circumstance, scores 70.
The game featured 1,507 yards and 133 points before a packed house of 60,012 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va.
The combined 19 touchdowns tied a Football Bowl Subdivision mark, last reached when Navy beat North Texas 74-62 in 2007. That matchup set the FBS record for most points in a regulation game at 136.
“The goal is to score more than the opponent,” senior quarterback Nick Florence said. “And we didn’t do that today.”
West Virginia senior quarterback and Heisman hopeful Geno Smith amazed everyone, completing 45 of 51 total passes for 656 yards and a Big 12 record-tying eight touchdowns.
“Geno was exceptional, and he’s been that way for the last couple of years,” Baylor head coach Art Briles said. “Today he certainly didn’t hurt his cause for postseason awards. We kept fighting, believing and charging. We fought hard but didn’t respond well enough to win the game.”
Smith, the early Heisman front-runner, had more TD passes than incompletions (six). He finished 45 of 51 and still doesn’t have an interception this season.
“I don’t know how you can improve on that,” West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “He was 45-of-51 for 656 yards, eight touchdowns and zero interceptions. Can you please tell me how you improve on that?”
Baylor’s quarterback, Florence, set records himself with 581 yards and five touchdowns, breaking Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III’s total yard record of 471 against Oklahoma last season.
“Geno [Smith] was dang near perfect,” Baylor senior wide receiver Terrance Williams said. “But Nick [Florence] played a great game. They might have a Heisman person, but I wouldn’t take anybody but Nick. I’ll take him over any quarterback in the country.”
Williams set a Big 12 record with 314 yards receiving. The old mark was set minutes earlier by West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey, who had 303 yards and a school-record five TDs.
He also set Baylor single-game records with 17 receptions and 314 receiving yards. The previous records were 12 receptions (six times) and 208 receiving yards set by Kendall Wright against Oklahoma.
“Terrance caught deep balls and made plays,” junior inside receiver Tevin Reese said. “In my opinion, he’s the No. 1 receiver in the nation.”
Reese ended the game with four catches for 120 yards and a touchdown, and senior wide receiver Lanear Sampson made four catches for 109 yards and a touchdown of his own.
For the Baylor offense, the game did not start out as quickly as possible, as the second play from scrimmage featured a pass that hit Reese in the hands but ended up in the possession of a Mountaineer defenseman.
The Bears’ defense would then stop the Mountaineers and force a 50-yard field goal that was missed.
Baylor found the end zone first after a fifty-yard reception by Williams was capped off by a one-yard rush by senior running back Jarred Salubi.
As expected, West Virginia answered with a one-yard run of its own.
Smith’s fourth TD pass came with 29 seconds left until halftime, but that was more than enough time for Florence. On the second down he threw down the left sideline to Sampson, who juked two defenders and went 67 yards untouched to tie the score at 35-35.
The third quarter was the time that the Mountaineers pulled ahead.
West Virginia senior receiver Tavon Austin made two long touchdown receptions three minutes apart, but Baylor could not answer, punting on fourth and long and missing a field goal.
The teams scored on ten of their final 13 possessions of the first half. Seven of those drives lasted under two minutes. West Virginia put a cap on the game, picking up two first downs and running out the clock after an 8-yard touchdown reception by Williams with 3:08 remaining. Briles said he considered the onside kick but decided to trust his defense to stop the firing Mountaineers.
“It [the onside kick] entered my mind,” Briles said. “But if you kick it down there deep and get them at the 25 and get a stop with three timeouts, you have a good chance to score and tie it up. We played percentages there, and it didn’t work out.”