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The Press Box Sports

WVU Rallies to Take Down No. 24 Texas Tech

NCAA Football WVU Mountaineers Texas Tech Red Raiders

The West Virginia Mountaineers rallied from 18 points down in the third quarter to win 46-35 against the No. 24 Texas Tech Red Raiders. Dana Holgorsen has to be pleased with how his team responded in the second half after a slow start. The Red Raiders scored on all but two possessions in the first half. Those two that they didn’t score on were missed field goals. The Mountaineers didn’t do too bad to start the game, but they couldn’t match Texas Tech offensively. WVU had trouble establishing the running game, but had no issues through the air. The Mountaineers scored 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter in what was the second largest comeback in history at Milan Puskar Stadium.

WVU Football Milan Puskar Stadium

Mountaineer Fans Striped the Stadium in Blue and Gold against Texas Tech.

Quarterback, Nic Shimonek, got the Red Raiders off to a hot start. He completed a 60-yard touchdown reception to freshman T.J. Vasher on the first drive for Texas Tech. Shimonek threw four touchdown passes in the first half including another long 53-yard pass to Vasher. For the game, the senior went 24-39, 325 yards, 4 touchdowns and a costly interception near the end of the game. For the Mountaineers, Will Grier got off to his usual slow start before picking up the pace later in the game. After a 31-yard touchdown pass to David Sills in the first quarter, Grier struggled to get things going on offense until the third quarter. He found Sills again for an 8-yard touchdown pass in the third and then went red-hot in the fourth quarter. Grier hit Ka’Raun White twice in the fourth quarter for scores and David Sills again for the third time. Grier finished the day 32-41, 352 yards, 5 touchdowns and an interception.

The Red Raiders field one of the best receiving units in college football, but it was the Mountaineers that had the upper hand today. Ka’Raun White led the way for WVU with 8 catches, 114 yards, and 2 touchdowns. David Sills added to his NCAA touchdown reception lead. Sills had 6 catches, 89 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Gary Jennings added 9 catches for 68 yards, while Marcus Simms had 6 catches and 72 yards. T.J. Vasher averaged 56.5 yards per reception on his two, deep receptions for Texas Tech. Dylan Cantrell led the Red Raiders with 8 receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown. Keke Coutee is one of the best receivers in NCAA football and added 6 receptions for 86 yards, including a touchdown.

Texas Tech surprisingly had better success in the running game than WVU. The Red Raiders outgained the Mountaineers 190-44 yards on the ground. Justin Stockton had 96 yards on 16 carries and Tre King added 8 carries for 67 yards and a touchdown. For a team that averages 163 rushing yards per game, Texas Tech did an outstanding job over WVU as they rushed for 193 yards.  Justin Crawford did score a touchdown, but was held to only 47 yards on 14 carries. Sophomore Kennedy McKoy added a change of pace later in the game and was a little more effective. McKoy had 35 yards on 7 carries. This by far was the worst performance for the Mountaineers on the ground this season. They averaged 214 yards going into the game, but could only gain 44 yards on 29 carries as a team.

Game Changing Moments

Texas Tech was without starting kicker Clayton Hatfield who didn’t make the trip and it proved to be a huge impact on the outcome of the game. Junior, Michael Barden was 0-3 on field goal attempts. Fortunately for the Red Raiders, WVU wouldn’t score on the following drive of all three misses. Besides the kicking game, penalties were another crucial area in the outcome. Texas Tech was penalized 16 times for 159 yards. They also had three pass interference calls on a drive in the third quarter which led to a Mountaineer touchdown. While the defense held WVU to under 500 yards of total offense for the first time this season, they shot themselves in the foot in the second half due to a lot of mental errors.

Even though the Mountaineers couldn’t capitalize off the missed field goals, they were able to find their grove with the game still within reach. Holgorsen called a timeout to discuss a 4th and 1 early in the fourth and the offense wasn’t going to let him tie the game. Contemplating on going for a field goal, the offense talked the coach into going for it. Grier got the first down on a 1-yard qb sneak and capped off the drive with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Ka’Raun White. The Mountaineers took the lead and kept it as the defense finally woke up. They were able to force a three-and-out on the Red Raiders which resulted in another touchdown and Kyzir White ended the last drive for Texas Tech with an interception with under two minutes left in the game.

The Mountaineers recorded their first victory against a top-25 team this season in front of a sold-out crowd at Milan Puskar Stadium. WVU fans “Striped the Stadium” for homecoming in a beautiful site of gold and blue. The win puts the Mountaineers at 4-2 on the season and 2-1 in the Big 12. WVU travels to Waco next week to play the Baylor Bears. Texas Tech falls to 4-2 and 1-2 in conference play. The Red Raiders will play another tough conference opponent next week as they host the Iowa State Cyclones.

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