Brown reflects on near-miss in Norman: “I hurt in the pit of my stomach for our players”

Gold and Blue Nation

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Head coach Neal Brown made one thing clear after Saturday’s outcome in Oklahoma: West Virginia’s three-point loss to the No. 4 Sooners stings. 

The Mountaineers took one of college football’s perennial powers to the limit on the road, but because of some miscues late in the game, they didn’t come away with a victory. Instead, the Sooners kicked a field goal on the game’s final play to win 16-13 and keep their unbeaten record in tact. 

“I hurt in the pit of my stomach for our players,” Brown said after the loss. “We came in here. We fought against a team that, year-in and year-out is at the top of the recruiting rankings, year-in and year-out they’re in the top five or ten in the country. They’ve been dominant in our league, and they’ve been dominant at home for the most part, especially since Lincoln [Riley] has been the head coach. We had an opportunity to win, and we just didn’t.”

West Virginia led Oklahoma 10-7 at halftime, but for the third time in four contests, the Mountaineer offense managed just three points in the game’s final 30 minutes. Self-inflicted wounds like penalties and a bad snap during a key sequence in the fourth quarter prevented WVU from building a lead. 

A stellar outing by the Mountaineer defense wasn’t enough to overcome those offensive woes. The Sooners managed just 16 points against WVU, well below their season average of 46.3 points per game and their lowest output as a team during head coach Lincoln Riley’s tenure.

“That was a tough, physical football game. I thought we went toe-to-toe with Oklahoma here in their backyard,” Brown said. “If you look at it, we had chances. Absolutely, we had chances. Game played out in a good way for us, and we just ran out of time. Credit to them. They did a nice job.

But Brown knows this won’t be the last close game in which the Mountaineers play. All three of their games against Power 5 opponents have been decided by one score, and other results in the Big 12, including Baylor’s upset victory over then-No. 14 Iowa State, indicate that the conference will be highly competitive this year. 

“The hope is you learn from this,” Brown said. “There’s gonna be a ton of games that go down to the end, and we gotta figure out how to win them.” 

West Virginia will return to action Saturday against Texas Tech at 3:30 p.m. at Milan Puskar Stadium. 

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