MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - In a game with 115 points and 1,372 combined yards of total offense, two plays turned the tide in No. 13 West Virginia’s clash with No. 6 Oklahoma.
With WVU trailing 52-49 early in the fourth, Kennedy McKoy ripped off a long run to open a possession, but after a personal foul on T.J. Simmons, the Mountaineers found themselves at their own 43 instead of inside the enemy 5.
Three plays later, quarterback Will Grier fumbled for the second time in the game – and for the second time, the Sooners returned the fumble for a touchdown.
Instead of potentially tying the score or pulling back ahead after the McKoy run, the Mountaineers trailed by 10, and wound up losing 59-56 in a battle for a spot in the Big 12 Championship.
“As well as we played offensively, giving them 14 points is inexcusable,” said head coach Dana Holgorsen. “It’s the difference in the game.”
The Mountaineers racked up 704 yards of offense in the loss, third most in their history, but two costly penalties on offense kept them off the scoreboard on two separate occasions.
The latter of those two moments was the Simmons penalty that negated McKoy’s long fourth quarter run. The first sequence came early in the second quarter, when a touchdown pass to Gary Jennings was called back after David Sills was flagged for offensive pass interference. That drive later ended with an incompletion in the endzone on a fourth-and-6 from the OU 10.
“I don’t understand, in a game like this, how you take those off the board,” said Holgorsen. “I don’t get it. I don’t understand it, I don’t get it and I never will.”
West Virginia was 2-3 on fourth down tries, while Oklahoma was 2-2, including a touchdown and a game-sealing conversion in the final moments.
Grier threw for a career-high 539 yards on 32-49 passing. He hit Jennings seven times for 225 yards and Sills eight times for 131 yards.
But fumbles returned for scores by the Sooners in the second and fourth quarters overshadowed an otherwise potent performance from the WVU offense.
“Offensively, we played as good as I’ve seen,” said Holgorsen. “Can’t give them 14 points. It’s a shame that we played so good on offense and gave them 14 points, but I was proud of the way our guys battled.”
With the win, Oklahoma earns a rematch with Texas Saturday in the Big 12 Championship, while the Mountaineers will wait to learn their bowl fate.
The loss also marked the final home contest for 18 WVU seniors.