MORGANTOWN, West Virginia — It’s still difficult to process what happened last night, as the West Virginia Mountaineers came back from 11 points down to take the lead with 12 seconds remaining against the Houston Cougars. Following Garrett Greene’s 50 yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Hudson Clement, he took his helmet off to celebrate the comeback and mockingly waved good bye to the few Houston fans who showed up for the game.
Greene was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, which cost the Mountaineers 15 yards on the ensuing kickoff. Absolute terrible decision. Neal Brown called the mistake “asinine” and he was absolutely right. “He was special tonight,” Brown said. “I told you I thought he was going to have a breakout performance and he did. You just can’t get the penalty, man. He’s got to grow up. He’s got to mature, but who was better on the field tonight? Who was better?”
Greene, who was 20/38 on the day, passed for for a career-high 391 yards and 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. He added 12 carries for 47 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. In other words, he was absolutely sensational. He as the very reason that the Mountaineers were even in the game to begin with. His grit and competitiveness and desire to win are the reason that West Virginia was in position to beat Houston.
After the game, many fans and critics blamed Greene for the loss, pointing at his unfortunate and awful decision to take his helmet off on the field to celebrate as the reason that West Virginia lost. The reality of the situation is that although that unsportsmanlike penalty certainly didn’t help the team, it wasn’t the actual reason that Mountaineers left Houston with a loss. It was, of course, an overall lack of discipline and an inability to close out a game that they should have won.
We didn’t lose the game on the last play of the game,” Brown said following the game. “We had multiple chances to win the game, and we didn’t do it. We had multiple chances to take control of the game in the second and third quarter, and we didn’t do it.
The celebration penalty after the last touchdown is kind of a microcosm to me of the game. We don’t get that celebration, which is completely asinine for us to take our helmets off. I don’t understand it. They don’t want to call that. They’re going to give you the benefit of the doubt, but if you take your helmet off it’s pretty clear. I don’t understand that. That gave them the opportunity to get into scoring position. The rule is clear. It’s not hard. Just keep your helmet on. We can celebrate all you want on the sideline. It’s ridiculous! There’s probably nothing I’m more upset about than that.”
No one has been a more harsh critic of Neal Brown than I have been over the years, but Brown was absolutely right. Neal Brown had a game plan in place to win last night and the team didn’t execute. Neal Brown didn’t lose the game. Garrett Greene’s idiotic penalty at the end of the game didn’t lose the game. It was a culmination of a lack of discipline and overall poor execution throughout the game.