It was a scenario West Virginia football fans had witnessed far too many times this season as their No. 22 Mountaineers turned the ball over five times in the second half in dropping a 23-7 decision to an unranked North Carolina State squad in the Champs Sports Bowl.
The old adage of "offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships" was never more true than it was for the old gold and blue in Bill Stewart's third year at the helm.
College football analysts around the country agreed that WVU had the defense to win a championship in 2010.
However, that unit, which had not allowed a team to score more than 21 points in a game until the Wolfpack accomplished the feat with 3:55 left in the game, could not overcome an offensive game plan that showed little, if any, imagination and failed to dent the goal line in the fourth quarter for an amazing sixth time this season.
Compounding those woes were a couple of costly special teams miscues and West Virginia's indecision to challenge a questionable call that could have given WVU the football inside the NC State 30 and it all adds up to the Big East's co-champion's 11th loss in 14 bowl contests against members of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
If anything the final 30 minutes of action gave credence to first year Director of Athletics Oliver Luck's decision to not bring back offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen or offensive line coach Dave Johnson while giving head coach Bill Stewart one last opportunity to lead the old gold and blue in 2011.
Even the announcing crew were left wondering if the distractions surrounding the Mountaineer program brought one team to Orlando without the drive and motivation to win a bowl game.
And, it was evident from the beginning that WVU was the team that should have stayed at its hotel or, maybe, returned to Walt Disney World to enjoy one last night of fun.
From the start, the Wolfpack took advantage of West Virginia's inability to mount a consistent pass rush as senior quarterback Russell Wilson connected on 17 of his 24 attempts for 153 yards and one touchdown in the first half alone, finishing with 276 yards and two touchdowns on 28-of-45 attempts.
Even when it appeared that WVU had survived the first half when Geno Smith's 32-yard scoring toss to Stedman Bailey knotted the game at seven, it was a false hope as the Mountaineers' kickoff coverage unit allowed a 46-yard return which N.C. State turned into a 45-yard field goal by Josh Czajkowski to take a 10-7 lead into the locker room at the intermission.
Time and time again the defense stepped up to plate and answered the call, but just as many times the offense either failed to respond or gave the ball to the opposition with only a short field between it and the end zone.
That is a recipe for disaster in any coach's book. And, an invitation for a new Director of Athletics to make a change.
Contact Jim Butta at jbutta@firstname.lastname@example.org