Best & Worst: Season finale in Morgantown

Saturday’s crowd of 33,735 was the third-smallest in the history of Mountaineer Field.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Let’s sample the superlatives from West Virginia’s 52-44 triple-overtime loss to Iowa State in Saturday’s season finale:

Worst draw: The 33,735 announced attendance was West Virginia’s lowest since 1992’s game against Louisiana Tech and the third-smallest crowd in the history of Mountaineer Field. (It also marked the third-worst attendance in the Big 12 this season edging only the 30,807 Kansas drew for WVU two weeks ago and the 32,264 Kansas drew for Baylor on Oct. 26.) Said coach Dana Holgorsen: “I appreciate the crowd that was there today. It’s tough when you don’t have the students and school isn’t in session.”

Best benchmark: Charles Sims needed 54 yards to reach 1,000 this season and he wound up with 149 yards on 24 carries. His season-long 76-yard touchdown in the third quarter pushed him over the line.

Worst absentee: Even after a bye week, Bandit safety Darwin Cook’s injured groin prevented him from playing on Senior Day. With WVU shuffling Daryl Worley to free safety and Karl Joseph to Cook’s spot, Iowa State freshman quarterback Grant Rohach capitalized in a huge way—331 yards passing and a career-best four touchdowns.

Best late-blooming receiver: West Virginia’s Mario Alford caught eight passes for 215 yards, both season highs. He made 20 of his 27 catches in the final four games.

Worst time to sacrifice 5 yards: WVU was at the 50-yard line with five seconds left and somehow was penalized for delay of game after Iowa State took back-to-back timeouts. That cost the Mountaineers a chance to throw a quick out and set up a Josh Lambert field-goal try. “I can’t explain the delay,” Holgorsen said. “You get a call in there and we just didn’t snap it quick enough. Can’t explain that … it’s on me.”

Best gamble: On fourth-and-17 from Iowa State’s 21 early in the fourth quarter, Paul Rhoads unleashed a fake punt and punter Kirby Van Der Kamp gashed WVU for 21 yards up the middle. The play sparked the Cyclones to a touchdown that cut the deficit to 38-28. “It was a fake all the way,” said ISU coach Paul Rhoads. “It was time. Our backs were against the wall a little bit. We pulled the trigger and Kirby Van Der Camp’s a man. He’s a man.”

Best play by punter NOT involving a fake: Nick O’Toole boomed a 68-yard punt in the first half and averaged 56 on three punts.

Worst overtime offense: WVU ranks next-to-last in the Big 12 in red-zone touchdown percentage, so the overtime format of starting at the opposing team’s 25 doesn’t figure to suit the Mountaineers. And in five overtime possessions this season, West Virginia didn’t score a single TD.

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