"I thought he was hurt,'' said Tavon Austin, who was the secondary receiver on the play in the middle of the field. "I just wanted him to get up so we could spike the ball. If not, we might still be out there.''
That's when Shawne Alston made perhaps the biggest play of the season with the clock stopped. He was the blocking back for Smith on the play, 30 yards up the field.
"When I saw the ball leave Geno's hands, I just ran down the field,'' Alston said. "I knew if he caught it we had to hurry up and get to the line.
"I got down there and it looked like he'd hurt his shoulder or something. But we didn't have time to figure out what was going on. So I was just trying to pick him up and get him on the line real fast. He weighs a little bit more than it looks like.''
Alston literally picked up Bailey and pushed him into position to line up in a legal formation to spike the ball. It worked, and Smith's spike came with three seconds to go.
"Shawne's a smart player,'' Holgorsen said. "And Stedman was just dead. He was tired. You could see it two or three plays before that. I was yelling at him, but you couldn't hear. I mean, 'Get up,' that only goes so far.''
So then it was up to Bitancurt and the field goal team. USF was whistled for having 12 men in the huddle and got him 5 yards closer, then the Bulls burned a timeout to ice the kicker.
Holgorsen was asked if he said anything to Bitancurt.
"No, I ignore those guys,'' Holgorsen said. "The more you talk to them the more you screw them up. So I ignored him. I stayed completely away from him.''
Bitancurt was grateful.
"He did the right thing. That's the way I want it,'' Bitancurt said. "Kickers don't want a bunch of people talking to us. We know what we have to do.''
The kick went through on the final play and West Virginia won a share of the Big East title and kept its BCS bowl hopes alive for at least a few more days.
"We knew he was going to make the field goal. We had no doubt,'' said cornerback Pat Miller, who returned an interception 52 yards for a score in the first half. "There was no overtime. We knew we were going to win right then and there.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.