Rowell on defense: ‘Hardest we played since I’ve been here’

Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Trevor Knight (9) scrambles against West Virginia linebacker Brandon Golson (2) in the second quarter.


NORMAN, Okla. — Creating four turnovers and rattling Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight seemed like sure-fire omens of a West Virginia upset. Thus defensive coordinator Keith Patterson was having a hard time processing how the Mountaineers delivered so many big blows only to lose 16-7.

“If we forced four turnovers, I thought there’s no way we’d lose the game,” said Patterson, whose defense allowed 435 yards but repeatedly turned away Sooners scoring threats.

Safety Darwin Cook grabbed one of West Virginia’s interceptions and also recovered a fumble. Yet the senior blamed himself for dropping another potential interception—one he felt he could have returned for a pick-six.

“Could’ve had five turnovers and a touchdown,” Cook said. “I don’t even think about the interception I caught. I should’ve caught the first one and scored, and it would have been a different game.”

Oklahoma piled up 316 yards rushing, but its only touchdown drive covered 32 yards and was set up by Mario Alford’s fumbled punt. Otherwise, the Sooners managed only three Mike Hunnicutt field goals and went 5-of-17 on third downs.

“We responded well, but a loss is a loss,” said inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski. “If we would have won, I think we would have proved something.”

West Virginia finished the game with three key defensive players sidelined by injuries. Spur linebacker Isaiah Bruce left in the second quarter with an apparent right leg injury, nickelback K.J. Dillon limped off in the third quarter, and inside linebacker Doug Rigg was carted away in the fourth after temporarily being knocked unconscious.

Nose tackle Shaq Rowell also missed a series after a teammate rolled up his knee, but the senior later returned and felt West Virginia’s defense made a statement in defeat.

“I feel like that’s the hardest we played since I’ve been here,” Rowell said. “We had four turnovers, and usually if you get three you win. I told these guys to hold your heads high. (Oklahoma) scored one touchdown and three field goals.

“That was Oklahoma. They’ve lost what, five games here in the last 15 years? … That’s a great team, Oklahoma. Seven national championships, 44 conference championships—ain’t that what the (signs) say? Let’s be real. We gave them a run for their money. That’s a great team we lost to today.”

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