PITTSBURGH - West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin could serve as the poster child in these times of economic fastidiousness.
On Friday, in the 103rd edition of the Backyard Brawl, Austin did a lot with a little in WVU's 35-10 decision over Pittsburgh at Heinz Field.
Austin had possession of the ball just three times for the Mountaineers, but he racked up 95 yards and scored two touchdowns with those chances.
"He's good," said WVU offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen. "We gave him the right number: No. 1."
Indeed, Austin almost single-handedly broke the game open in the second half. With the Mountaineers holding a slim 14-7 halftime lead, the 5-foot-9, 173-pound sophomore gave the visitors breathing room.
West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith dropped back, looked left, then right and heaved the ball downfield to Austin. Both Austin and fellow wideout Brad Starks were running post patterns. Pitt defensive back Antwuan Reed fell trying to cover. Austin caught the ball and breezed in for a 71-yard score.
"I really was watching Bradley Starks from the sideline,'' said WVU coach Bill Stewart. "I thought he was going to run the post to Bradley. All of a sudden, there comes this flash. I said, 'Ah man, he's got his eyes on Tavon.' ''
"We were in a bunch situation,'' Austin said. "The cornerback was kind of playing outside, so I slipped him and ran a post route. Geno made a good pass and I made a good catch. Just tried to run for the touchdown."
After showing off his speed, Austin later flashed his impressive vertical leap. With 1:29 left in the third quarter, he ran what looked to be a short curl, then simply out-jumped Panther cornerback Ricky Gary. Twelve-yard score. WVU up 28-10. The Mountaineers were never headed afterward.
"I just ran a little stick route,'' Austin said. "Geno scrambled and I just broke up the field. The defensive back's back was toward Geno. He couldn't see the ball so I jumped over top of him and made a good play.''
It's becoming a habit for Austin.
"Tavon is just a guy who, out in space, he's tough," Stewart said. "He's a space guy. He's difficult to get the handcuffs on, to corral, in the open field.
"You can't tackle him in a phone booth. He's just the quickest little guy."