Petteway Shows His Skills

MORGANTOWN – Steubenville’s Shaq Petteway did this regularly in high school.

On Saturday, he introduced his game to West Virginia fans.

Petteway led the Mountaineers with 10 tackles and was in on 1.5 sacks, including one for a 10-yard loss on a third-and-6 play late in the first quarter. It was the first sack of his career.

Defensive coordinator Joe DeForest suspected a guy like Petteway was well-suited to make plays against TCU because of what it does on offense, so he unleashed his sophomore.

“We were counting on Shaq versus what they did offensively. We needed him on the field more,” DeForest said. “We gave him an opportunity to play. We’ve moved him around from Star to Buck to Will linebacker and he did a good job of adjusting.”

At times, Petteway looked like he was playing against Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

“The coaches came to me and they challenged me so I took advantage of my opportunity I was given,” Petteway said. “I just went out there and tried to make plays. I think I did that.”

Still, it wasn’t enough, as the Mountaineers lost their third in a row, this one on a two-point conversion play in overtime.

“It’s a hard one to swallow,” Petteway said. “I feel like we should have won it multiple times throughout the game. I’d rather get blown out than lose like that.”

A special teams mixed bag

Tavon Austin’s second kick return for a touchdown in two games, this one a 76-yard punt return (WVU’s first punt return for a score since Vaughn Rivers in 2006) showed continued progress in the special teams.

That unit, too, had taken its share of criticism in recent weeks, but head coach Dana Holgorsen said he has seen more positives than a lot of untrained eyes and felt a lot of it was unjust.

Then he added a little more.

“On special teams, we played well other than the people who were snapping it and kicking it,” he said.

Placekicker Tyler Bitancurt did hit a career-long 52-yard field goal early in the third quarter, but he missed four others, including a 36-yarder in overtime that was blocked but would have won the game had it been good.

He also missed from 50, 43, and 55 yards. He’s 4 of 9 for the season (the block is credited to team).

The two attempts of 50-plus yards Saturday were one more than he’d even attempted from that distance in his four-year career.

With eight points, Bitancurt passed Jay Taylor into third place on the WVU kick-scoring list with 316 points.

Other highlights

Shifting through the rubble of West Virginia’s first three-game losing streak since 2004, there were some highlights.

With 101 yards, Austin upped his school-record 100-yard receiving games to 12, and he had his seventh double-figure game in terms of catches this season (he had 11 against the Frogs). Quarterback Geno Smith, whose day was termed “very average” by Holgorsen, threw a pair of touchdown passes and has 35 in his last nine games.

With a 25-yard TD catch in overtime, Stedman Bailey upped his single-season school record to 15 of those.