MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — It happened again.
Two straight weeks, two straight last-second losses.
First Oklahoma, 16-13. OK, that happens.
But now Texas Tech, but a field goal again, this time 23-20.
Oklahoma was a game West Virginia could have won.
Texas Tech was a game it SHOULD HAVE won.
This season, born in hope, now is on the brink of disaster.
A Homecoming crowd of 54,090 saw the Mountaineers at their worst in the first half and at their best in the second half, right up until they couldn’t punch the ball into the end zone from the Tech four-yard line.
The worst surely was the first half that ended with Texas Tech on top 17-0.
“The way we played in the first half was inexcusable,” coach Neal Brown said.
The fans were booing and the players were embarrassed as Texas Tech, which had beaten them two straight years, was doing it again despite playing back up quarterback Henry Colombi along with a back up running back, wide receiver, center and three defensive backs.
There was dissatisfaction with the two quarterbacks and virtually anyone in a WVU uniform save for the band and the cheerleaders.
But they came out of the locker room a different group in the second half, Doege looking like Tom Brady and the offense and defense in full bloom. In fact, by the time they added up the stats for the day WVU had 424 yards to 346 for Tech, led in rushing yards, passing yards, average yards per play, time of possession, first downs, sacks, tackles for losses and average beers per fan.
Yet they lost the game.
It came down to the final minutes, first when Doege drove the team into position to win the game as part of a final 30 minutes hat saw him complete 19 of 25 second-half passes for 276 yards.
But his final throw, aimed at an open Leddie Brown in the end zone from the four, missed well wide and out of bounds, forcing a game-tying field goal from Casey Legg.
“What it came down to was we didn’t score a touchdown and had to kick a field goal. Then we weren’t good enough on the last drive,” Brown said. “We had a good play but we missed the throw,” Brown said.
He admits he considered an all-or-nothing fourth down try for the touchdown.
“Maybe we should have gone on fourth down. You always question yourself but I felt like we had really good answers and had played well in the second half,” he explained.
He got a good kickoff after the field goal, Tech taking over at its own 19. He felt good about that, the way the defense was playing.
But then came the game’s key moment, a 42-yard pass from Colombi to Kaylon Geiger on a freaky play in which the pass was underthrown badly.
“That ball bounces funny ways,” coach Neal Brown said. “It was badly thrown, probably five yards behind him and he comes back and makes the play.”
From there Texas Tech just marched into field goal range and got the winning kick that ruined what was supposed to be a festive day.
WVU was out of time outs so Texas Tech ran all but 22 seconds of the clock before kicking the field goal and giving Doege one last try at a miracle.
But he completed one long pass, then tried to get one more to get into field goal range, but he didn’t come close, throwing his last hope far out of bounds.
For the day he completed 25 of 33 for 318 yards and a touchdown. He had a pair of 100-yard receivers in Winston Wright Jr. with nine catches for 106 yards and Isaiah Esdale with six for 113 yards.
Leddie Brown rushed for 57 yards and caught four passes for 31 yards while Mike O’Laughlin caught five for 35 yards, but it wasn’t enough. Again.