Without Grier, WVU Takes Texas-Sized Stumble
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Sans starting quarterback Will Grier, West Virginia took a Texas-sized stumble, losing 28-14 to the Longhorns at home on Senior Day.
Grier was injured on a quarterback run with 3:12 left in the first quarter. The junior kept the ball on a sprint out off a fake handoff from the one-yard line. As Grier dove for the end zone, he was hit by a pair of Texas defenders. The ball popped loose from Grier’s grasp short of the goal, rolling through the end zone and resulting in a touchback and Texas possession at the 20-yard line.
Grier immediately got up from the hit, but held up his right (throwing) hand, showing a dislocated middle finger. Grier left the field immediately and was shortly escorted to the locker room for x-rays. The play loomed large, not only for having a potential score taken off the board, but because Grier missed the remainder of the game.
Chris Chugunov entered, but West Virginia’s offense was stagnant throughout most of the final three quarters and managed a season-low 295 total yards – the fifth-fewest in the Dana Holgorsen tenure. Chugunov completed 14-of-26 passes for 189 yards and the touchdown to Ka’Raun White that pulled WVU within 21-14 with nine minutes left. He also fumbled deep in WVU’s end, setting up Texas’ final score.
Grier played just three drives totaling 16 snaps. He completed 6-of-8 passes for 50 yards, and had the offense in position to score twice early on. His status remains in question for the regular season finale at Oklahoma.
West Virginia pieced together a valiant effort despite the setback. Texas took a 14-0 lead in the second quarter on a pair of scoring passes from quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who came off the bench to replace starter Shane Buechele. The touchdowns came off methodical marches, Texas moving 91 yards in 11 plays and 87 yards on 10 plays as the Mountaineers struggled to tackle at times, and couldn’t contain the mix of power run and steady passing.
With WVU’s offense largely lethargic, the defense provided a boost when Kenny Robinson came up with another huge interception, picking off Ehlinger and returning 94 yards for a score to cut the deficit in half. It was Robinson’s third career interception – and his second for a touchdown – and it thwarted what would have been a dagger of a drive by the Longhorns. The pick was the fourth-longest in school history, and the longest in the last 23 years, and it put the freshman in rarefied air as one of four West Virginia players to return an interception more than 90 yards.
The pick six sparked some energy in the Mountaineer sideline, and WVU forced a three-and-out on the next series. But with the offense again unable to move, Texas assumed possession again after another three-and-out. It took UT just two plays to go 46 yards, the drive capped by Kyle Porter’s 10-yard scoring to boost the lead to 21-7 with 1:23 left in the third quarter.
Two possessions later the Mountaineers answered with White’s touchdown catch on fourth and five from the Texas 12-yard line with nine minutes to play. The score was Chugunov’s second touchdown of the season (Delaware State) and pulled WVU within 21-14.
West Virginia was unsuccessful on the onside kick, but forced a three-and-out. But the resulting field position pinned the offense at the four-yard line, and Chugunov fumbled on a third down passing play. UT recovered, and sealed the game with Daniel Young’s one-yard touchdown run two plays later.