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2016 Russell Athletic Bowl

S E A S O N I N R E V I E W WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY OKLAHOMA WINS BATTLE OF TOP 10 TEAMS Game 10 • Nov. 19, 2016 • Oklahoma 56, West Virginia 28 • Morgantown, WV A cold, snowy November evening was the setting at Milan Puskar Stadium as No. 8/8 Oklahoma defeated No. 10/9 West Virginia, 56-28, in front of 57,645 fans. It was the first matchup of two Top 10 ranked teams in Morgantown since 1993, and it was Oklahoma that handled the weather conditions and the football better. Four West Virginia turnovers resulted in 21 points for the Sooners, who jumped out to a 34-0 first-half lead and never looked back. The loss overshadowed an impressive performance from West Virginia tailback Justin Crawford, who rushed for a career-high 331 yards on 24 carries. He sprung for runs of 36, 36, 45, 45, and 61 yards on his way to the third-best rushing performance in Mountaineer football history. Oklahoma countered with the strong running of Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon, combining for 307 yards and three touchdowns in the Sooner victory. Final numbers showed West Virginia clearly in the lead, but turnovers definitely took a toll. The Mountaineers rushed for 388 yards and passed for 191 to total 579 yards. The Sooners collected 316 yards on the ground and 169 through the air for 485 total yards. MOUNTAINEERS PICK UP NINTH WIN, STING IOWA STATE Game 11 • November 26, 2016 • West Virginia 49, Iowa State 19 • Ames, IA West Virginia took advantage of Iowa State mistakes to chalk up its third straight victory over the Cyclones, 49- 19, on Thanksgiving weekend at Jack Trice Stadium. The Mountaineers scored 21 points off Iowa State turnovers, and made the Cyclones pay even more by scoring seven points off an unsuccessful onside kick in the first quarter and another 14 points from stopping ISU on two first-half fourth down plays from near midfield. Between turnovers and missed ISU opportunities, the Mountaineers pounced for 35 points to break open the game. Quarterback Skyler Howard threw for five touchdown passes, including a 71-yard scoring play to Shelton Gibson in the third quarter, which was WVU’s longest play from scrimmage of the season. The performance marked Howard’s third career game of throwing five touchdown passes. Injuries to three tailbacks forced the WVU coaching staff to burn the redshirt of Martell Pettaway, and the true freshman running back responded with 181 yards rushing, one score and a 6.0 yards per carry average. The win improved West Virginia’s record to 9-2 overall and 6-2 in the Big 12. The nine wins marked the 18th time in school history that football has achieved at least a nine-win season. Iowa State finished its 2016 campaign, its first under head coach Matt Campbell, at 3-9. MOUNTAINEERS TOP BAYLOR FOR 10TH WIN Game 12 • Dec. 3, 2016 • West Virginia 24 • Baylor 21 • Morgantown, WV West Virginia sent off 21 seniors victorious in their final home game at Milan Puskar Stadium by defeating Baylor, 24-21, on a chilly December afternoon in Morgantown. Both teams seemed to struggle a bit in the early going with the wind and temperatures. However, it was the running of junior tailback Justin Crawford that ignited the Mountaineer offense as he rushed for 209 yards on 28 carries for a 7.5 yards per rush average. It marked the second time in 2016 that Crawford rushed for more than 200 yards in a game, becoming the first Mountaineer since 2006 to pull off the feat twice in a season. The Mountaineer defense had a good day against the potent Baylor offense, holding the Bears scoreless in two of the four quarters, while coming up with two interceptions and four sacks. Finally, West Virginia took its first lead in the game with 1:58 left in the third quarter, when senior quarterback Skyler Howard went deep and connected on a 58-yard touchdown strike to Gary Jennings for a 17-14 West Virginia advantage. The 80-yard scoring drive proved to be West Virginia’s longest of the game. The Mountaineers then made Baylor pay for a late third-quarter fumble by Smith on BU’s 12-yard line. Marvin Gross Jr. forced the fumble and Darrien Howard recovered.Four plays later, and the first of the fourth quarter, Howard rushed in from one yard, giving West Virginia what would be a commanding 24-14 lead with 14:57 left in the game. Justin Crawford Martell Pettaway Marvin Gross Jr. 2 0 1 6 R U S S E L L AT H L E T I C B O W L 9 3


2016 Russell Athletic Bowl
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