Discover Orange Bowl
January 5, 2012 by staff
Geno Smith threw six touchdown passes, West Virginia broke multiple scoring records and the Mountaineers defeated Clemson 70-33 in the Discover Orange Bowl on Wednesday night at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL.
The 70 points scored by the Mountaineers was the most ever in an NCAA bowl game.
Yeah, that’s exactly how we draw it up, right,” said West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen. “There was a snowball effect at one point in the game, and the only way that can happen is if you’ve got three sides of the ball playing together.”
The game was West Virginia’s third BCS bowl appearance in the last seven seasons.
The Mountaineers have now won all three of their BCS appearances.
“It’s a great thing for the program,” said West Virginia running back Shawne Alston. “We’re already a major program, but it puts us on the map a little bit more to let people know we’re a force to be reckoned with.”
The win also gave West Virginia its first 10-win season since 2007
“It’s so special, I can’t even put it in words the type of feeling I’m feeling right now,” said West Virginia senior defensive lineman Julian Miller. “It has hit me, but it still hasn’t even hit me yet.”
With over 500 total yards of offense on Wednesday night, the Mountaineers took control of the game late in the second quarter and never looked back.
After being forced to begin a drive inside its own five-yard line, Clemson drove 96 yards on its second possession of the game to take an early 7-0 lead.
Tigers’ running back Andre Ellington ran 68 yards for a score less than six minutes into the game.
However, the Mountaineers responded. West Virginia had a 76-yard scoring drive capped off by a 4-yard rushing touchdown by running back Shawne Alston. Alston started for injured running back Dustin Garrison.
“The run game helped out a lot,” Smith said. “Shawne Alston and Andrew Buie stepped up big tonight, and we just continued to believe and continued to trust our coaching and execute the game plan.”
Both defenses continued to struggle to generate stops. Clemson held a 17-14 advantage at the end of the first quarter. The 31 combined first-quarter points was an Orange Bowl record.
West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin, who scored earlier in the game, managed to stay inbounds for a 27-yard touchdown reception to give the Mountaineers their first lead of the game, 21-17, early in the second quarter.
With Clemson set to take the lead back, West Virginia safety Darwin Cook returned a Tiger fumbled 99 yards for a touchdown. And, suddenly, the Mountaineers led 28-17 midway through the second quarter.
The play proved to be the difference maker.
The Clemson defense couldn’t find an answer for the West Virginia offense. And, late in the second half, the Clemson offense couldn’t find an answer for the West Virginia defense. The Mountaineers forced two turnovers late in the first half and turned both into touchdowns.
West Virginia out-scored Clemson 35-3 in the second quarter and led 49-20 at the half. The 49 points from West Virginia in the first half marked the most points in any bowl game ever.
“Anything that could have happened, happened,” said West Virginia center Joe Madsen. “We just came out there and did what we had to do. We respected our opponent and we gave it them.”
The Mountaineers weren’t finished yet. West Virginia scored two touchdowns less than five minutes into the second half.
West Virginia led 63-20 with eight minutes left to play in the third quarter.
The Mountaineers added a late touchdown for an exclamation point on an impressive BCS bowl victory.
Austin became the first player in school history with 100 receptions in a single season.
Clemson committed four turnovers.
Geno Smith had his best game of the season.
Smith completed 31 of 42 passes for 401 yards with six passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdowns.
“The receivers came up with some great catches. I can’t say it was all on me,” Smith said. “I did the least amount of work.
Tavon Austin didn’t disappoint, either. He had 117 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns.
Shawne Alston had an impressive game while being forced into the starter’s role. Alston had 20 carries for 77 yards.
Smith was named Orange Bowl Most Valuable Player.
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