WVU Roars Back, Beats No. 24 Texas Tech
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – It’s not how you start, but how you finish.
West Virginia roared back from down 35-17, scoring 29 consecutive points in knocking off No. 24 Texas Tech 46-35 here Saturday in a wild, wonderful win.
Will Grier threw for five touchdowns, including three to David Sills, and the Mountaineer defense awakened from a first half slumber to hold the Raiders to one touchdown in the second half in the comeback victory. It was as impressive a rally as has been seen in sometime for the program, which snapped a nine-game losing streak to rated teams and kept itself in the Big 12 race.
Down 18 points with little momentum, West Virginia (4-2, 2-1) started the comeback late in the third quarter when Grier hit Sills on an eight-yard scoring pass. After the defense – which completely failed to remotely slow TTU in the first two quarters – got a stop, the offense hit again on a deep throw from Grier to KaRaun White to get within 35-20.
The senior made a fantastic grab of the ball in the corner of the end zone, attacking the pigskin at its highest point and pulling in the score. Down five, WVU chose to go for two and pulled within a field goal when Grier faked an end around and bootlegged right before finding Sills along the back of the end zone.
The conversion sent what was left of the crowd of 60,928 into a frenzy and set-up the final 13 minutes, ones in which WVU would score twice more, getting the winning points on Grier’s 17-yarder to White and the clincher when Grier hit Sills inside the red zone. The latter made it 46-35, and Texas Tech was out of chances when Kyzir White made an interception on the final Raider series.
That set-up the final few runs, and the Mountaineers had a shocking victory after what transpired in the initial 30 minutes.
West Virginia gave up four touchdowns and 338 yards in the first half alone. TTU’s TJ Vasher hit WVU for scores of 60 and 53 yards as quarterback Nik Shimonek hit 17 of 24 throws with all four touchdowns. The Mountaineers struggled to tackle, and often allowed Tech ball carriers into the second level before initial contact. Tech’s wideouts, meanwhile, won the individual battles on the outside, particularly Dylan Cantrell, who was matched up against Elijah Battle.
West Virginia switched out Battle midway through the half, turning to freshman Kenny Robinson. But with the offense struggling on third downs and Tech rolling, the deficit continued to balloon as the Raiders traded a pair of scores around a Mike Molina field goal for a 21-10 lead. WVU got within 21-17 on Crawford’s five-yard run with 7:44 left in the half, and it seemed as though the Mountaineers were building momentum when it seemingly got a stop on the ensuing series.
A fake punt by Texas Tech extended the drive, however, and Shimonek found Vasher deep on the next play for the 28-17 edge. It looked as though WVU would be down by more at the break before a late TTU field goal attempt hit the left upright.