Houston Cougars

Dana Holgorsen After 41-39 Win: ‘I Guess The Football Gods Were on Our Side’

NCAA Football: Sam Houston State at Houston

If you weren’t tuned in for the Houston-West Virginia game on Thursday night, you missed what was one of the craziest finishes in any college football game ever played.

Down 35-24, Garrett Greene cut the lead to three with an eight-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion pass to Traylon Ray with 3:42 left in the game. The Mountaineers then forced a punt to get the ball back with 1:17 left no timeouts to spare.

After working to the 50-yard line, West Virginia’s drive stalled until they faced a 4th-and-10 when Greene found Hudson Clement streaking down the seam, and he turned the completion into a 50-yard go-ahead touchdown with just 0:12 seconds left, making it 39-35. An unsportsmanlike conduct celebration after the score forced West Virginia to kickoff from their own 20, setting up Houston with good field position.


Donovan Smith completed a pass to Dalton Carnes to get to the West Virginia 49, and then, on the very last play of the game, Smith heaved up a prayer, which found itself in the arms of Stephon Johnson to give the Cougars a 41-39 victory. It was a sequence of events that you’ll have to see to believe.

After the game, Houston head coach Dana Holgorsen couldn’t believe what had just transpired, as it was truly a roller coaster of emotions in the final 22 seconds of the game.

“That was fun,” Holgorsen said postgame. “Not exactly how we drew it up. One of the messages was I thought West Virginia was really good fundamentally blocking and tackling. It wasn’t perfect but I think we improved on it. I talked about blocking, tackling, and playing four quarters. Well, we played all four quarters. I don’t know how that happened at the end. I guess the football gods were on our side today, so we’ll take it. It’s good for our team to get that first Big 12 win.”


“I don’t think I could have been more mad and more happy in a matter of less than a minute. I mean, I was furious. I initially thought the penalty was on us and I was like they’re going to kick it out of the end zone, we’re cooked. Then I found out it was on them. How do you prevent them from having emotion? I don’t know. But you kick off from the 20, it’s a problem. That’s a part of the game, I don’t know how you coach that because the emotions are so unbelievable. But I know that gave us a chance to get the ball out.”

The win moves Houston to 3-3 (1-2) on the season and gives the school its first-ever win in Big 12 play. Now, the Cougars will reset and prepare to host the ninth-ranked Texas Longhorns next weekend. Meanwhile, West Virginia falls to 4-2 (2-1) and will head back home and prepare to host Oklahoma State next Saturday.

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