Darwin Cook Turns Over Clemson, Turns Around Game - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Darwin Cook Turns Over Clemson, Turns Around Game

MIAMI, Fla. -

No one in orange was safe Wednesday night from what the Mountaineers had set out to accomplish – not even an orange.

Darwin Cook – you know, the other safety – snatched the ball from Andre Ellington as he was reaching for the end zone in an effort to pull ahead of West Virginia in a 21-17 game.

He says he believes linebacker Doug Rigg jarred it loose and he just plucked it away from there, but the result was a 99-yard dash to the opposite end zone with a convoy that consisted of no one other than his teammate, Keith Tandy.

"I grabbed the ball and I tried to sneak out of there so people wouldn't see I had the ball at first and then I took off," says Cook. "That was just the best moment of my life. I couldn't believe it. It felt like high school."

Cook, scoring his first collegiate touchdown, ran right through the end zone and looked as though he were headed through the wall. But Obie, the Orange Bowl mascot, was there to greet him.

Obie outstretched its nubby little arms for some sort of embrace, but Cook simply wrapped his arm around the orange and clotheslined it into the ground. Apparently he felt threatened.

"Obie doubted us, too, so I had to tackle him," he said, before being informed that under the costume, Obie was actually a she. "I found out at the end. I apologize to her."

That little orange took the throw down in stride and jumped back on the pile to celebrate with the Mountaineers. Had Obie been a doubter before that moment, he – she – was all in after it.

And don't worry, I spoke with Obie just after the hit and she gave me a big hug before telling me she was fine. She played it up the rest of the game, flexing any time she faced a camera.

But the moment, the one that pushed WVU out to a two-possession lead, was much more than just a touchdown. To that point, neither team had really done much to stop the other from putting points on the board. Cook's play gave the Mountaineers faith that they could turn the game around and keep Clemson off the board.

"I think that just changed momentum," said WVU defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel. "I think they settled in and made enough plays and the ones at the end of the half really kind of blew the game open."

Blowing the game open behind a Pat Miller interception and a Bruce Irvin forced fumble that each resulted in a short field and subsequent touchdown for the Mountaineers, putting the team up 29 at the half and all but sealing the game with 30 minutes still remaining on the clock.

The 70 points – a bowl game record – will reflect well on the offense, and rightfully so, but the defense's effort was what sparked the shift of momentum and confidence while destroying any that Clemson may have still had.

A Tigers offense that had seen real success in its ground game could no longer afford to use it if it were to score quickly enough to make some sort of comeback effort and quarterback Tajh Boyd was only able to muster a 7-of-18 performance in the second half, finishing the game with two interceptions.

Ellington, who had 10 rushes for 116 yards and a touchdown in the first half, finished with the exact same stat line.

Much of the talk throughout the weeks leading up to the game surrounding the spur safety position and how the Mountaineers could replace the production left behind by Terence Garvin's injury. On Wednesday, the play from the bandit and free safety positions was enough to carry the load.

In addition to Cook's 99-yard forced fumble, recovery and return (when he was informed of that stat in the locker room, he squealed for joy), he posted four tackles. Eain Smith led the team with 12, including 11 of the solo variety.

Jeff Casteel's defense, which had been getting stronger by the game ever since allowing Syracuse to tear it to pieces, posted exactly the sort of results it was hoping for to close out the season. Maybe not the 33 points allowed, but when you've racked up 70 of your own, it's difficult to give that much thought.  

It was a complete dismantling of the ACC champion Clemson Tigers and it really all swung in the Big East champs' direction when Cook snuck away from his own goal line and sprinted head on toward that pesky Obie.

Oh, and at the end, the players and coaches and staff members from WVU maliciously tore into fresh oranges that were flung around without a second thought.

Nothing in orange was safe Wednesday night in Miami.

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