Lot Of Fun Late For WVU & Dana Holgorsen
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Dana Holgorsen’s first sentence nicely surmised West Virginia win over Texas Tech.
“Well, that was a lot of fun,” he said. At least for a half. The Mountaineers, down 18 points against a top 25 opponent, scored the final 29 of the game and rallied past the Red Raiders 46-35 here Saturday. The deficit was the second-largest in program history ever overcome in the second half, and it spared WVU from a two-game losing streak while keeping it amidst the second-place teams in the Big 12.
“Give Texas Tech a ton of credit,” Holgorsen said. “That is the best Texas Tech team, top to bottom, that I have seen since I have been here. Things weren’t going great, as we all know, but our guys kept fighting and kept hanging in there. We finished. We finished for the first time this year in a close game.
Early on the contest appeared as though it was a little more than a hangover left from the disappointing defeat at TCU. West Virginia failed to find a rhythm offensively and couldn’t slow the Red Raiders, who rolled to 28 points and 338 yards by the break. West Virginia scrapped certain segments of its game plan, trimming the offensive packages and backing off pressure defensively. That, in turn, built momentum and the Mountaineers rode that wave to the final 29 points of the game turning a 35-17 deficit into the 46-35 victory.
“I always have hope and remain optimistic,” said Holgorsen, whose team snapped a nine-game losing streak to Top 25 teams. “We were down 18. That’s pretty good. I guess I should make a big deal out of it. You can’t get caught up in how much you are down. You just get caught up in the flow of the game and you encourage guys to keep playing. When the momentum comes your way, you deal with it.”
That happened when the defense, tired of being gashed by Tech’s running game, limited the gains on first down and focused less on blitzing and more on base execution. That segued into an offensive explosion as quarterback Will Grier threw for a career-high tying five touchdowns – four in the last quarter – as he finished with 352 yards, which made up the majority of WVU’s 396-yard team effort.
Grier threw three scoring passes to David Sils, who now leads the nation with 13 touchdown catches, and found Ka’Raun White for two more, including the game-winner on a leaping 32-yarder early in the fourth quarter. The catch and resulting two-point conversion from Grier to Sills put the Mountaineers head 35-32, and Tech never truly threatened again as WVU dominated the final quarter.
The comeback is the largest since West Virginia rallied from down 33-14 to beat Maryland 34-33 in a driving rain in 1992.
I thought for the last quarter we were obviously much better than they were,” Holgorsen said. “That was about the only quarter we were better, but that’s besides the point. I give our players a ton of credit. I challenged them at halftime.There was a point in the third quarter where I didn’t think they had it in them because it wasn’t happening. Then all the sudden it happened, and our players hung in there and seized that opportunity. They played really god team football for a quarter and won by 11.”