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Keep Away: Red Raiders DB's Have Critical Interceptions in Win Over West Virginia Mountaineers

Three different Texas Tech defensive backs had their first interceptions of 2022 in the Red Raiders' 48-10 victory over West Virginia.

Whether West Virginia wins or loses, the Mountaineers usually score points. The fewest points West Virginia had scored in any game this season was 20 in its 38-20 loss to Texas. For the season, the Mountaineers were averaging 39 points per game.

That is, of course, past tense after the Mountaineers’ 48-10 loss to the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Saturday.

After that loss, the average dropped to 34.9 points. Why?

Well, West Virginia can point its fingers at three Red Raider defenders in particular — defensive backs Rayshad Williams, Malik Dunlap, and Dadrion Taylor-Demerson. 

All three picked off West Virginia quarterback JT Daniels, and all three did so in acrobatic fashion in one-on-one matchups that the Red Raiders haven’t been winning as often as they would like.

Interceptions are an area where the Red Raiders have struggled this season. Entering the game, Texas Tech had just two, both of which were picked by Reggie Pearson. So the interceptions for Taylor-Demerson, Dunlap, and Williams, were their first of the season.

The trio also helped mollify a trend that was likely frustrating Red Raiders defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter. Tech entered the game last in the Big 12 in turnover ratio and forced four on Saturday, as the Red Raiders also forced a fumble for a turnover.

The first interception, by Taylor-Demerson, was fitting, considering it came two plays after he was called for pass interference and allowed West Virginia to get into position to take a shot at the end zone.

Daniels went for the end zone down the left side, but Taylor-Demerson had the West Virginia receiver well-covered and went up to make an interception that derailed any hopes of the Mountaineers getting a touchdown before halftime. At the time, Texas Tech was up only 17-3.

West Virginia had a chance to put points on the board as the Mountaineers took the football to start the third quarter. But, Daniels was picked again, this time by Dunlap. His interception set up a touchdown that put the Red Raiders up 24-3. And the rout was on.

The interceptions, which bookended the end of the second quarter and the start of the third quarter, proved crucial in the Red Raiders putting the game away.

The last interception was by Williams in the fourth quarter. Daniels again tried to take a shot down the sideline. And, again, the Red Raiders had the pass well-covered with Daniels making a terrific leaping grab to pick off the pass.

With the win, the Red Raiders (4-3, 2-2 in Big 12) closed in on bowl eligibility. More importantly, they remained on the periphery of the race for the Big 12 Championship Game. With two league losses, they’re still in striking distance of second place.

For that, the Red Raiders have those three defensive backs to thank.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard

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