NORMAN, Okla. - Brennan Clay rushed for 170 yards and Mike Hunnicutt kicked three field goals to lead 16th-ranked Oklahoma to a 16-7 victory over West Virginia Saturday night at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla.
The Sooners (2-0, 1-0) ran for 316 yards and limited West Virginia to its lowest scoring output in coach Dana Holgorsen’s three-plus-season coaching tenure at WVU. OU’s 316 yards were the second time in three games that the West Virginia defense has allowed more than 300 yards rushing in a game (the Mountaineers surrendered 369 yards rushing against Syracuse in the 2012 Pinstripe Bowl).
“Obviously disappointed with the loss, but I was proud of how our guys fought. We played hard," said Holgorsen. "I think each and every guy that went out there played, coaches and players, I think, played with a lot of effort and I am proud of that. We want to continue to get better on all three sides of the ball."
WVU also had plenty of special teams difficulties, as 10 of Oklahoma’s 13 first-half points were the direct result of miscues by that unit. True freshman Daryl Worley
was called for roughing the kicker during Jed Barnett’s 46-yard punt to give the Sooners a first and 10 at the 43. Oklahoma was able to turn that into a 44-yard Hunnicutt field goal.
Then, Mario Alford
mishandled a punt at the West Virginia 34 and Trey Franks recovered the loose ball at the 32. The Sooners were able to turn that into points when Trevor Knight rolled to his right and found Trey Millard in the corner of the end zone.
West Virginia, which finished the first half with just five first downs, got on the scoreboard first with 8:54 left in the first quarter when running back Dreamius Smith
got into the Sooner secondary and used a great block from wide receiver Ivan McCartney
to spring him for a 75-yard touchdown run.
The Mountaineers’ only other big offensive play of the first half was a 33-yard Paul Millard
pass play to the Oklahoma 49. However, later in that drive, Millard had the ball knocked out of his hand by Oklahoma’s Kass Everett and his fumble was recovered by Sooner defensive tackle Chuka Ndule at the 49.
West Virginia’s defense also came up with a pair of second-quarter turnovers, both coming on passing plays. Trailing linebacker Isaiah Bruce
knocked the ball out of Oklahoma wide receiver LaColton Bester’s arms at the WVU 18, where Darwin Cook
recovered it, and Brandon Golson
made a blindside hit on Knight and Will Clarke
recovered his fumble at the 38.
The turnovers continued in the third quarter. Knight made two poor passes that resulted in West Virginia picks - the first by Cook
in the end zone when he underthrew an open Bester and the other by Karl Joseph
at the WVU 4 that he was able to return to the 15. True freshman linebacker Marvin Gross
got a hand on the ball, leading to the pick.
Millard, too, had a pass picked off when he tried to hit Daikiel Shorts
over the middle but linebacker Gabe Lynn was back in coverage to intercept his pass at the OU 37 and return it to the 43.
West Virginia’s second turnover killed its best offensive possession of the third quarter when Kevin White
was stripped by Quentin Hayes at the Sooner 14 on what was going to be a first down catch. Lynn picked up White’s fumble and returned it to the 41.
Oklahoma backup quarterback Blake Bell entered the game on OU’s first possession of the fourth quarter and directed a nine-play, 45-yard drive that burned 4:34 off the clock and resulted in Hunnicutt’s third field goal, a 32-yarder, giving the Sooners a 16-7 lead.
The Sooner defense then was able to get the ball back on downs at the 49, and Bell drove Oklahoma into position for Hunnicutt’s fourth field goal attempt, a 35-yarder, but his kick hit the left upright with 1:01 left.
West Virginia drove the ball to the Sooner 3, but Wendell Smallwood
was dropped at the 6 to end the game.
Knight completed 10-of-20 passes for 119 yards for the Sooners before giving way to Bell, who ran for 21 yards and failed to complete a pass.
Millard, making his first career road start, played the entire game for West Virginia and completed 21-of-41 passes for 218 yards. White led all receivers with seven catches for 80 yards, while Smith added 77 yards rushing on three carries.
"Give Oklahoma a lot of credit, they don’t lose very many games here. Like in 15 years here they have lost five games or something like that," said Holgorsen. "They are obviously a great program, great players, well coached, that sort of thing, so congratulations to them. We will learn a lot from this and we will get better. I’m looking forward to playing next week.”
A hush came over the stadium with 5:42 left in the fourth quarter when WVU linebacker Doug Rigg
was transported off the field and taken to a local hospital.
"He was out cold," said Holgorsen. "He was moving his hands and his feet, so, that is obviously scary. He collided with one of our own guys and was out cold. He started responding and was moving his hands and feet, so that was a good sign. I haven’t heard anything since then.”
Tonight's game represented a stark contrast to last year's shootout at Milan Puskar Stadium when the team's combined for 99 points and 1,440 yards of total offense in a 50-49 Oklahoma win.
The Mountaineers (1-1, 0-1) return to Milan Puskar Stadium next Saturday to face Georgia State, while Oklahoma remains in Norman to face Tulsa.