Touchdown twins

Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey are West Virginia University’s “Touchdown Twins.” Fraternal twins that is because Austin stands only 5-foot-9 and is listed at 174 pounds and Bailey is 5-foot-10 and a weightier 188 pounds.

Both the wide receivers have left opponents wondering how to best deal with their dizzying statistics and touchdown exploits.

Bailey, the junior from Miramar, Florida, has been widely acknowledged as one of the best wide receivers in the nation. And that recognition came when he was listed as one of only three candidates for the Fred Biletnikoff Award, emblematic of the top outside receiver in college football.

Tavon Austin had 17 TDs this season.

Tavon Austin had 17 TDs this season.

With 106 catches, Bailey has staggered the opposition with his 23 touchdowns, and 1,501 receiving yards. He averages 14.2 yards per catch and his longest score came on an 87-yard pass/run reception from prolific Mountaineer quarterback Geno Smith.

Stedman Bailey scored 23 TDs.

Stedman Bailey scored 23 TDs.

Even when West Virginia went through the throes of a five-game losing skid, Bailey was having games with 10 receptions or more and 125 yards or more. He just kept on scoring in a 50-49 loss to Oklahoma.

His free-wheeling exploits were recognized by not only the Big 12 Conference but also around the country because he has been a first-team All-America pick on every such team revealed to date.

Bailey is not the fastest runner nor is he the shiftiest route runner. But he doesn’t drop many passes thrown in his direction, and he is adept at piling up important yardage after his catches.

He was also injured midway through at least two games and missed series of plays in two of the five losses the Mountaineers had. But he came back on field to play in those games.

Austin has more make-them-miss moves than Bailey. And once out in an open field, he is next-to-impossible to overhaul. Opponents attempting to down him in the open often tackle nothing but air as he flashes past them.

While Bailey had 23 touchdowns, Austin has scored 17 times and done it four different ways.

The waterbug senior from Baltimore’s Dunbar High School has 12 touchdown receptions on passes from Smith. He also has rushed for three scores, the longest a 74-yard jaunt. As a return man, Austin has another score by punt return and his last six-pointer came on a kickoff return.

The All-Big 12 team had him on the first-team as an “all purpose” player.

His receptions number 110. The yardage he piled up was 1,259. Austin catches many more short Smith passes designed specifically for him to gain yardage or score after the grab.

In 61 carries, he has rushed for 598 yards or a eye-catching 9.8 yards per try. His long carry went for 74 yards and a score.

He had 15 punt returns, the longest was a 75-yard touchdown romp. Austin returned 28 kickoffs for 738 yards, including one that went for a 100-yard score.

Of the 490 pass completions Smith had, the combination of Bailey & Austin hauled in 216 of them. Over half (2,760 yards) of Smith’s 4,004 passing yards went to the All-America twosome of Bailey & Austin.

Both of the receivers have now earned their share of one-season and career records. And if Bailey stays in school and plays his senior season, he will be passing Austin in several categories next year.

When the Mountaineers see Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl later this month, it’s certain that Orange head coach Doug Marrone and his defensive coaches will have spent long sessions planning to at least keep Bailey and Austin from beating the Orange by themselves.

Austin has one more college game to play.

He wears No. 1 on his uniform. And he’s been No. 1 in the hearts of some Mountaineer fans for more than just this season.

Bailey will take his place on more All-America teams than his smaller teammate. He wears No. 3 on his uniform. But he’s been No. 1 in the hearts of some Mountaineer fans for more than just this season.

The Touchdown Twins.

Forty touchdowns between Austin and Bailey.

Now they are the Orange’s problems.

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