I'm rarely opposed to going for it on fourth down; actually, I'm in the camp that says coaches don't go for it enough. But I was disgusted when, with 5:45 to go in the fourth quarter and down a touchdown, Bill Stewart's Mountaineers went for it on 4th-and-9 from the 28-yard line instead of kicking the field goal.
In my mind, there's just too much time left, and too many factors opposing that decision.
First of all, from a statistical perspective, there's a big difference between 4th-and-9 and 4th-and-3. Fourth-and-3 can be picked up on a complete pass, a run, or a scramble, but the statistics definitely caution against going for it above, say, five or six yards to go.
Second, the 28-yard line is a 45-yard field goal. Tyler Bitancurt hit a 45-yarder in WVU's win over Liberty, so it wasn't out of his range.
Assuming Bitancurt makes it, a field goal would have cut Cincy's lead to four. That way, if Cincy scores a field goal on their ensuing possession (as they did) WVU could have tied the game on their touchdown instead of scoring and still being down a field goal.
If Cincy scores a touchdown on their ensuing possession, WVU would still be down two possessions, but could make it up with a touchdown, a two-point conversion, and a field goal instead of two touchdowns.
If WVU makes the field goal, they kick off instead of turning the ball over on downs, which probably favors the field goal in terms of field position.
Plus, it wasn't like WVU's passing game was getting hot. In fact, Jarrett Brown didn't throw a complete pass for the entire drive, picking up a 3rd-and-11 on a 23-yard scramble.
All Cincy had to do was spy on Brown and make sure he stayed in the pocket and the turnover was all but guaranteed.
Cincy's winning margin was Bitancurt's unattempted field goal.
And as we all know, this wasn't the first time Bill Stewart has blown late-game decisions.
It's a very good thing the focus was on the awful call that ruled a fumble as a touchdown , because there was just as much egg on Stewart's face by the end of the night.