AMES, Iowa — Tavon Austin turned a touch pass from Geno Smith into a 75-yard touchdown with 6:31 left and West Virginia held on to beat Iowa State 31-24 Friday to break a five-game losing streak.
In the first game between the two schools, the Mountaineers (6-5, 3-5 Big 12) trailed 24-23 when they took over on their own 25 after Iowa State’s Edwin Arceo kicked a 49-yard field goal.
Smith took the snap in shotgun formation and immediately flicked the ball to Austin cutting in front of him. Austin, who had been held in check until then, turned the corner and easily outran the pursuit down the left sideline.
Iowa State (6-6, 4-5) then drove to the West Virginia 7, but Jeff Woody fumbled into the end zone and Karl Joseph recovered for the Mountaineers, which ran out the clock.
West Virginia became bowl eligible for the 11th straight season with the victory and could enhance its postseason position with a victory over Kansas at home in its regular-season finale next Saturday. The Mountaineers’ losing streak had been their longest since dropping six in a row in 1986.
Iowa State played its regular-season finale and will await its third bowl bid in coach Paul Rhoads’ four seasons.
Both teams put up decent numbers despite raw, blustery conditions. The wind blew at a steady 15 mph out of the northwest and the wind chill was 21 degrees at kickoff.
Smith fell well short of his 336-yard passing average, but still completed 22 of 31 for 236 yards and two touchdowns. He worked against an Iowa State secondary missing injured starters Jansen Watson and Durrell Givens, the national leader in takeaways.
Austin was held to 74 yards rushing in 14 carries after gashing Texas for a school record 344 yards last week. But the power running of 5-foot-11, 235-pound Shawne Alston helped keep the Mountaineers moving.
Alston carried 19 times for a career-best 130 yards and a touchdown.