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Texas can't stop W.Va.'s Smith in 48-45 loss

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The No. 11 Texas Longhorns came in determined to knock Geno Smith around and force West Virginia to run the ball.

They did both and still lost.

Texas sacked Smith four times, forced two fumbles and even recovered one for a touchdown.

But it wasn't enough to stop the Mountaineers' quarterback from carving up the Longhorns' defense for 268 yards and four touchdowns in a rollicking 48-45 West Virginia win Saturday night.

Andrew Buie rushed for 207 yards and two touchdowns for No. 8 West Virginia (5-0, 2-0 Big 12)

``You look over the course of the game, we got what we wanted,'' Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. ``We turned them into a running team.''

Smith's third touchdown pass to Stedman Bailey with 10:50 to play put West Virginia ahead and Buie's second touchdown in the final two minutes gave the Mountaineers a 10-point lead.

West Virginia didn't seal the victory until the Mountaineers recovered an onside kick after Texas (4-1, 1-1) quarterback David Ash passed to Marquise Goodwin for the last touchdown.

``We knew it was going to be a dogfight,'' Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro said. ``It is frustrating and we left a lot on the table.''

Joe Bergeron scored four touchdowns, all on short runs, for Texas which is 2-7 at home in conference games the since 2010 and has lost seven in a row to ranked teams.

Smith was 25-of-35 passing for 268 yards in a game he had to be sharp. Texas' aggressive defense hit him early and often and forced a second quarter fumble that the Longhorns recovered for a touchdown.

But just as he did when West Virginia ran up 70 points on Baylor a week earlier, Smith made all the big throws when the Mountaineers needed them in a game where every possession was key.

West Virginia went 5 for 5 on fourth downs. Smith has 24 touchdown passes this season without an interception.

Buie was just as important to West Virginia's ability to handle the Texas defense. He averaged 6.7 yards.

``We were very surprised because they didn't run the ball much coming into the game. We got gassed on a couple of runs,'' Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat said.

Jeffcoat's recovery of a Smith fumble for a touchdown sparked a first-half rally that brought the Longhorns back from a 21-7 deficit to a 28-27 halftime lead.

The Longhorns forced another fumble by Smith in the fourth. But Texas couldn't capitalize on the turnover when an errant snap sailed past Ash, leading to a 16-yard loss before Anthony Fera missed a 41-yard field goal attempt that would have tied the score at 41-41.

Fera, who transferred from Penn State, missed the first four games with a groin injury. Nick Jordan kicked the first four games and Texas is just 4 of 9 on field goals this season.

Ash, the No. 2-rated passer in the nation behind Smith, was 22 of 29 for 269 yards and one touchdown. He took the blame for the miscue on the snap.

``That was my fault. I let the play clock bleed down too low. I should have caught it,'' Ash said.

Bergeron scored on runs of 2, 2, 1 and 4 yards. His last score gave Texas a 38-34 lead with 29 seconds left in the third quarter before Smith and Buie marched the Mountaineers right back down the field.

Smith threw touchdown passes of 8 yards to Bailey and 40 yards to Tavon Austin in the first quarter and West Virginia led 21-7 after Buie's first touchdown run.

Texas turned the momentum and awoke the record home crowd of 101,851 when Alex Okafor sacked Smith and Jeffcoat recovered in the end zone to tie the game.

Texas chewed up nine minutes on its first drive of the third quarter, moving to a 38-yard field goal by Fera. But Smith simply worker faster and West Virginia's drives resulted in touchdowns.

Smith's second touchdown pass to Bailey put the Mountaineers up 34-31 and the teams traded the lead two more times before it was all over.

``At the end of the day, it's just game, but it's Texas, too,'' Austin said. ``They've won championships. When I was little, I wanted to play a team like this and when I finally did, I got a win.''

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2016
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

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