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West Virginia puts up 70 points, routs Clemson in Orange Bowl

Jan 5, 2012 - 8:33 AM Miami, FL (Sports Network) - Tavon Austin's four touchdown catches spearheaded a record-setting performance, as No. 23 West Virginia overwhelmed No. 14 Clemson, 70-33, in Wednesday's Orange Bowl.

The Mountaineers (10-3), who closed the season with four straight wins, set a record for most points scored in a bowl game. Geno Smith threw for 401 yards and six touchdowns without an interception, while Shawne Alston ran for 77 yards and a pair of scores. Darwin Cook returned a fumble 99 yards for a second-quarter, game-changing touchdown.

"We're pretty tough to beat when all three sides of the ball play together," West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen said.

Tajh Boyd threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns but had two interceptions and a fumble for Clemson, which was making its first-ever BCS bowl appearance. Andre Ellington ran for 116 yards and a score and DeAndre Hopkins caught 10 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown in the loss. The Tigers (10-4) dropped four of six to end the season.

The first two drives of the game resulted in punts, betraying the matchup's true nature. Indeed, it was a shootout, as the next seven possessions ended in scores.

Ellington got things started with a 68-yard touchdown run, but Alston walked into the end zone from four yards out to tie the game, 7-7. Boyd hit Sammy Watkins for a 27-yard TD on the Tigers' next drive, but Austin responded with the first of a a string of eye-catching plays, gaining the edge and diving to the pylon for an eight-yard TD run and a 14-14 game.

Chandler Catanzaro hit a 42-yard field goal, making it 17-14 after one quarter, but the Mountaineers dominated the second, scoring 35 points en route to a first-half bowl game points record (49).

Austin opened the scoring, catching a short sideline pass and turning upfield for a 27-yard, tackle-breaking touchdown. The Tigers were poised to reclaim the lead on their next drive, moving to the WVU three, but the game turned on the ensuing play.

Ellington appeared destined the cross the goal line as he hit the pile out of the backfield, but Cook emerged from the scrum with the ball, running the other way for a 99-yard score and a 28-17 West Virginia lead.

"That was a 14-point swing," Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. "That was like a virus. Four turnovers - three of them that they got touchdowns off of. You can't give a good offense those type of opportunities."

The string of consecutive scores ended with a pair of punts before Catanzaro hit a 43-yarder to make it 28-20. But Smith answered with a seven-yard TD scamper and WVU capitalized on a pair of late Clemson turnovers to take a commanding lead into the break.

Boyd was intercepted by Pat Miller two plays into the ensuing drive. Smith took over at the Tigers 32 and immediately hit Willie Millhouse over the middle for a 30-yard gain. Austin walked into the end zone seconds later.

Boyd then fumbled at his own 18 and Alston plunged into the end zone from a yard away with four seconds remaining for a 49-20 lead.

The second half proved historic. Stedman Bailey had a six-yard touchdown run on WVU's opening drive and Austin added a 37-yard TD reception after a Clemson three-and-out for a 63-20 lead.

Later in the quarter, Rashard Hall intercepted WVU's Paul Millard, leading to Hopkins' 28-yard TD reception, making it 63-26 after a failed two-point conversion.

In the fourth, Keith Tandy intercepted Boyd. Milhouse capped the ensuing drive with a seven-yard touchdown catch to snap Baylor's bowl-game scoring record of 67 points-- set in last week's Alamo Bowl.

Clemson's Roderick McDowell tacked on a four-yard scoring run in the closing minutes to seal the final result.

Game Notes

West Virginia earned a BCS bid by winning a share of the Big East title. The Mountaineers were making their third BCS bowl appearance since 2006...Clemson earned its first-ever BCS bid by defeating Virginia Tech in the ACC championship game...The Tigers defeated the Mountaineers in the 1989 Gator Bowl -- the teams' only previous meeting on the gridiron...Clemson's 10 wins this season were the program's most since 1990.