Justin K. Aller
West Virginia snapped its five-game losing streak with a win over Iowa State.
The West Virginia Mountaineers defeated the Iowa State Cyclones, 31-24, to finally reach bowl eligibility on Saturday night. The Mountaineers got a 75-yard touchdown from Tavon Austin to win the game in the fourth quarter.
West Virginia jumped out to an early 10-0 lead when Shawne Alston punced it in from a yard out with 10:34 to go in the second quarter. That capped a quick-strike 70-yard drive that took covered just 1:34. Geno Smith hit Stedman Bailey twice for a combined 50 yards to set up the score.
Iowa State would not go away, as they clawed back to pull within three at 17-14 on a, 18-yard touchdown pass from Sam B. Richardson to Josh Lenz with just 18 seconds left in the half.
The Mountaineers went on a long drive to start the second half, chewing up 7:34 off the clock. However, the Cyclones defense held ground eventually and limited West Virginia to a field goal. That would allow them to take the lead on the next possession.
That go-ahead score would come with 4:56 remaining in the third quarter as Richardson connected with Quenton Bundrage on a 35-yards strike. The extra point would give ISU a 21-20 lead heading in the fourth.
WVU would capitalize on good field position to recapture the lead. The Mountaineers moved 18 yards from the Iowa State 36, resulting in a lead-changing field goal. The lead would continue to exchange hands as Iowa State got a field goal of their own on ensuing possession.
The decisive score would come with 6:31 to go, and the Mountaineers would hold on for the win.
Box Score Hero: Shawne Alston rushed for 130 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.
Rankings Ramifications: Both teams came into the game with five losses, and neither had a shot at being ranked.
But Did They Cover? West Virginia was three-point favorites, so they covered.
For more on Clones football, visit Iowa State blog Wide Right & Natty Lite.
Next Week's Schedule: West Virginia faces Kansas. Iowa State waits for bowl season.