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Austin’s Effort Not Enough For WVU

Receiver churns out near-record for all-purpose yards in game

November 18, 2012
By JIM ELLIOTT - Staff Writer (elliott@theintelligencer.net) , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

MORGANTOWN - He juked with his hips and shoulders, accelerated with his legs, and set up blocks by with pointed fingers.

In short, Tavon Austin put everything into this one.

Austin obliterated a 12-year-old Big 12 record by turning in 572 all-purpose yards - six shy of the FBS record - and scored a pair of touchdowns, but his effort wasn't enough West Virginia dropped another one-point, last-minute decision at home, 50-49 to Oklahoma on Saturday night.

The Mountaineers defense still was unable to make critical stops, but neither could the Sooners' defense, especially when Austin had the ball.

And he had it often.

He rushed 21 times for 344 yards, breaking Kay-Jay Harris' 337-yard record for most yards in a game, set against East Carolina in 2004.

If that sounds odd, considering Austin is the nation's leading receiver in terms of catches per game, well, oops on the coaches, who moved him to the backfield only last week because they were unhappy with the production they were getting from the position.

''He goes for 344 yards; we probably should have done it four years ago,'' WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said. ''Tremendous football player, best guy on the field. Hindsight, we probably should have done it prior to this.''

Permanent move?

''Sure,'' Holgorsen said. ''Why not?''

Austin still found time to catch four passes for 82 yards and return eight kickoffs for 146.

Add that all up and it's 572, 6 off the record set by Utah State's Emmett White against New Mexico in 2004.

''He's as good as I've seen. He just plays on a different speed than anyone else," WVU offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. ''Great vision."

Austin really had no idea of what he was doing.

''I don't worry about that during the game,'' Austin said. ''They told me I had about 400 or something like that. At the end of the day, we still lost. It was a good thing for me, but I'm still worrying about the loss.''

It was a marvel nonetheless. After all, this wasn't New Mexico's defense. This came against the 20th-ranked defense in the land, one that normally yields 325 yards per game, period, much less 344 on the ground.

Quarterback Geno Smith became the first passer to throw for 300-plus yards against it this season, as he completed 20 of 35 passes for 320 yards and four touchdowns, or one more passing TD than the Sooners had given up all season.

In the end, all of it - 778 total yards, second-most in school history behind the Baylor game earlier this season - wasn't enough.

But you've got to give the coaches credit for trying.

''They definitely told me it was going to be quite a bit, but I didn't think it was going to be 21 times,'' Austin said of his number of carries.

''Back there, it's like home,'' Austin said of the running back position, where he starred in high school in Maryland.

He said he had two things going for him. It came back to him fairly quickly. And he didn't have to learn a bunch of new stuff.

"Two plays - to the left and to the right," Austin said. ''I will be back there next week after the performance (Saturday).''

With two rushing touchdowns, Austin became the first Mountaineer in history to score a touchdown four different ways- rushing, receiving, kick, and punt return - in one season.

Austin's season all-purpose yardage stands at 2,313, as he jumped from No. 6 to No. 2 on the WVU list. He set the record at 2,574 last season.

 
 

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