MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The idea went through Joe DeForest's head as quickly and as easily as a pass has gone through the defensive coordinator's secondary in most games this season - except Friday's, of course.
West Virginia needed only 11 seconds to answer an Iowa State score with one of its own and Tavon Austin's 75-yard touchdown reception put the Mountaineers ahead 31-24 in a game they would win by the same score.
There were 6 minutes, 31 seconds to go and DeForest was thinking what so many others were thinking.
"I thought we scored too quickly," DeForest said, first with a straight face and then with a laugh.
Five times already in the season he'd seen his defense give up a touchdown with fewer than 75 seconds left in the first half, including against Iowa State. Twice in the five-game losing streak, the Mountaineers lost because of one late, decisive play the opposing offense made that the WVU defense couldn't stop.
Iowa State started at its 35-yard line, but was quickly in trouble when quarterback Sam Richardson ran for two yards on third-and-8. With two timeouts remaining, the Cyclones had to make a decision: Punt, play defense and use the timeouts or go for the first down?
Linebacker Josh Francis let them off the hook. He was penalized 15 yards for grabbing Richardson's facemask after Francis made the tackle.
"Not again," DeForest thought.
The defense, which allowed just 396 yards, its best work in Big 12 play, let Iowa State inside the 20 to the 14, but forced a third-and-10. Richardson's pass was incomplete, but defensive end Will Clarke had a penalty flag thrown at him for illegal use of hands to the face of an opponent.
The Cyclones had first-and-goal at the 7. WVU had that familiar feeling.
"In the back of your mind, you're like, 'Oh, no. Really? We just stopped them and now we're going to get a person foul?' " DeForest said.
Suddenly, the Mountaineers were defending a small space and the shrinking chance they'd end the longest losing streak since 1986.
They were again confronted with the proposition of making a play or facing the most significant consequences.
"I'm not going to lie," cornerback Pat Miller said, "it does go through your head, like, 'Come on, man. We can't give it up again.' "
Against TCU, WVU was ahead by a touchdown late and then allowed a 96-yard touchdown to tie the score with 1:28 to go and force overtime, where the Horned Frogs won on a trick play touchdown and then a deciding two-point conversion