Incredible Game-Winning Throw And Catch By An Improbable Combination

Incredible Game-Winning Throw And Catch By An Improbable Combination

FORT WORTH, TEXAS – For most of the game – heck for most of the 2019 season – West Virginia’s offense struggled.

The Mountaineers had just 13 points on the board after the first 55 minutes Friday evening at TCU, and trailed 17-13. WVU’s defense had kept the Mountaineers close, and with 4:47 left in the season finale, West Virginia’s offense got the ball back with one last chance to end the year on a good note.

West Virginia receiver Isaiah Esdale (88) cradles the winning touchdown pass over the outstretched arem of TCU's Vernon Scott (26)
West Virginia receiver Isaiah Esdale (88) cradles the winning touchdown catch over the outstretched arm of TCU’s Vernon Scott (26)

A few completions and a couple of key penalties on the Horned Frogs set WVU up at the home team’s 35-yard line.

West Virginia quarterback Jarret Doege, in just his third start with the Mountaineers, had made some mistakes earlier in the game. He had thrown three interceptions – his first INTs at WVU – and was trying to make amends.

On second-and-10 from the 35, the junior quarterback, who transferred from Bowling Green last summer, dropped back and stood in against a heavy Horned Frog blitz. He let go on a perfectly arcing spiral that was headed for sophomore receiver Isaiah Esdale, who had just 13 catches and no touchdowns in his nine-game West Virginia career.

“I could see a little bit out of my peripheral as I was running that I should be OK,” said Esdale of trying to stay inbounds while concentrating on the ball.

“(TCU defensive back Vernon Scott) had been playing me good, but in practice, we had talked all week about using our hands, using our hands to get a defender off you,” the Elkton, Maryland, native explained. “I had my arm on him, and I was waiting for the last second to get a little separation, which I was able to do.”

Doege’s pass found that few open centimeters of space, and Esdale hauled in the precious pigskin, keeping a foot inbounds and cutting into the end zone just beyond the pylon.

“Iggy made a heck of a catch,” said Doege of Esdale. “I got hit as I threw it, so I had no idea what happened. All I saw when I got up was the ref throwing his hands up signaling touchdown. I was in shock. I was thinking no way that just happened. I was so happy. It was a heck of a catch.”

The catch, just the second of the day for Esdale, as the other was a relatively insignificant four-yarder, gave WVU a three-point lead.

The only problem for the Mountaineers? There was still 2:10 left for the Horned Frogs to respond.

West Virginia’s defense, which had been dominant throughout the game, would have none of letting this win slip away, though. It allowed TCU quarterback Max Duggan to complete just one of his final 10 passes in two possessions over that late game stretch to secure the Mountaineers’ season-ending victory.

“It was really a testament to our defense,” claimed Doege. “I had three interceptions, but I don’t think TCU scored off any of those interceptions. Our defense played a heck of a game and kept us in it until the end.”

West Virginia tasted victory for the second time in its final three games of the regular season, having also won at No. 24 Kansas State (24-20), though falling short of another upset against No. 22 Oklahoma State (20-13).

“I think we played some of our best football the past three games,” stated Doege, who completed 20-of-35 passes for 158 yards against TCU with two TDs and three interceptions. “It’s a huge momentum boost for us going into next season, and I’m really happy to send the seniors out like that, too.”

West Virginia’s late season surge was capped off with the win in Fort Worth on Friday thanks to an incredible throw and catch by a combination no one would have envisioned a few months ago.

“My first touchdown in the last game of the year, and to win the game,” beamed Esdale. “That’s one I’ll remember for a long time.”



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