Texas Tech's second-half rally wasn't enough to overcome early deficit

The Red Raiders lose their first Big 12 game in a resilient matchup against the Mountaineers.

Coming off of a big win against then-ranked Oklahoma State last week, this game against West Virginia seemed like it was going to be in favor of the Red Raiders. With an improving defense for Texas Tech, who didn’t allow any third down conversions or points in the second half of the game against the Cowboys, many thought this game would pan out the same way.

In a sense, it did, because the defense didn’t allow any second-half points.

However, the first half of the game was too much for the Red Raiders to overcome, even after a resilient effort in the second half, and West Virginia escaped with a 42-34 victory over Texas Tech on Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium.

The Red Raiders started off the game completely flat on both sides of the ball. By the end of the first quarter, West Virginia already had a 28-7 lead and Mountaineers quarterback Will Grier was living up to all the Heisman hype.

In addition to things not going Texas Tech’s way, Red Raider quarterback Alan Bowman was sandwiched by cornerback Keith Washington and defensive linemen Ezekiel Rose and taken out of the game. He didn’t return to the contest and the extent of his injury is still unknown. With dropped passes, missed tackles, and almost 400 yards of total offense by West Virginia accumulating throughout the first half, the game seemed over before it even began.

That is, until Jett Duffey came in for Bowman. Duffey’s first drive started off strong with a couple of completions and a quick 6-yard run, but promptly ended with an interception before the second half began. Duffey picked it up in the third quarter, completing 4 of 9 passes for 79 yards and a touchdown. By the end of the fourth quarter, Duffey helped the Texas Tech offense come within eight points of West Virginia. Highlighted by dynamic runs, including a 27-yard fourth-down scramble, Duffey went 16 of 27 for 172 yards and ran for 86 yards.

“He competed hard,” Texas Tech Coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “We would like to have a couple throws back obviously, but he’s a great competitor. He fought hard for his teammates. I thought he made some plays, but we have to hang in there and make some other plays. But, he kept competing, kept fighting.”

Texas Tech started to gain momentum after an incredible throw and even more incredible 35-yard catch by junior receiver Antoine Wesley, who brought the team down to the West Virginia 3-yard line and helped set up a score a play later. Tech closed the gap here making the score 35-27.

The Red Raider defense continued to show out in the fourth quarter, killing West Virginia’s drive to increase its lead by two touchdowns. Sophomore defensive lineman Eli Howard sacked Grier for a loss of nine yards, and then tackled West Virginia running back Kennedy McKoy with the help of linebacker Dakota Allen for another loss of yardage. A delay of game penalty on West Virginia brought them to a long third down, which they couldn’t convert, bringing out Texas Tech’s offense to try and tie the game.

Unfortunately, this didn’t happen. Duffey was looking for Wesley when West Virginia cornerback Washington stepped in front and took it 51 yards for a pick 6 to put the Mountaineers up 42-27.

Freshman running back Ta’Zhawn Henry ran one yard for a touchdown with 38 seconds left in the game. But the ensuing onside kick went out of bounds and West Virginia ran out the clock.

The Red Raiders have an off week, and then travel to TCU on Oct. 11 for their third conference game of the season.