The West Virginia Mountaineers grabbed an early 14-0 lead and went on to handle the Texas Christian Horned Frogs 24-6 Saturday afternoon.
“Huge win for us. Really proud of our players and staff,” said West Virginia head coach Neal Brown. “We talked about it this week, but it matters how you play. I’m not talking about outcomes all the time. When you go out, and you play this game that we are extremely blessed to have the opportunity (to play), especially with all that’s going on pandemic wise and everything, it matters what you put on tape.
“It matters how you play. When end results aren’t always what you want, we can find solace in understanding that what’s really important is the effort and physicality that you play with. I thought what we put on tape today was West Virginia football. Individually and collectively, I thought our guys laid it on the line. I thought the coaches put them in a really good position to be successful.”
On the game's opening drive and facing a third and ten, TCU quarterback Max Duggan hit the tight end, Pro Wells, down the seam for 17 yards that ignited and drove the offense down inside West Virginia territory. The defense walled up and forced a punt. However, Jordy Sandy pinned the Mountaineers inside their own one-yard line.
West Virginia masterfully drove the length of the field with Leddie Brown giving the Mountaineers some breathing room with a six-yard burst up the middle before Sean Ryan got them outside of the 20 with a 15-yard reception.
Quarterback Jarret Doege went 7-8 on the drive hitting four different receivers before finding the endzone on a quarterback sneak from the inch-line to give the Mountaineers the early 7-0 advantage.
"Offensively, I thought that was as efficient as we’ve played. (We) controlled the clock. (We) didn’t have to be very flashy. I thought we set the tone early. We started fast, which is something we’ve been working on. We’ve been better, but to go 99 yards right out of the gate meant that we took control of the game right then and there.”
The West Virginia defense clamped down and held TCU to a three and out on the ensuing possession, and the Mountaineers smelled blood in the water and went after the punt, but a roughing the punter kept the drive alive, and the Horned Frogs put three points on the board.
Leddie Brown started to stack up yards on the Mountaineers next possession ripping off a 39-yard run off the left side. Four plays later, West Virginia struck paydirt after receiver TJ Simmons hauled a 26-yard touchdown pass over two TCU defenders.
West Virginia extended its lead on the opening drive of the second half off the foot of Casey Legg, hitting a 42-yard field goal.
The Mountaineers found the end zone early in the fourth, and again, T.J. Simmons came up with a big play, fighting off safety La’Kendrick Van Zandt and bullied his way for a touchdown.
The Mountaineer defense remained stingy all afternoon, holding the Horned Frogs just 295 yards of total offense, held TCU to 6-14 on third down, and kept them out of the end zone. Tykee Smith put a stamp on the defense’s performance with an interception in the end zone late in the fourth quarter as TCU was knocking on the door for their first touchdown of the game.
Tony Fields led the Mountaineers with 14 tackles and Exree Loe, who started for an injured Josh Chandler-Semedo, had 12 tackles on the day.
“Really good on third downs, especially in the first half. Our red zone defense holding them to two field goals and getting an interception down, there was huge. (Senior linebacker) Tony Fields (II) continues to make play after play. (Sophomore spear) Tykee Smith is a guy who was a captain for us today, and I don’t think he’s getting talked about enough. I think he potentially could be as good at his position as anybody in our league. (Redshirt junior linebacker) Exree Loe stepped in for (junior linebacker) Josh Chandler (Semedo) today, and he took a huge advantage of his opportunity. He played well on the run and the pass game. Then, (redshirt senior safety) Sean Mahone is quietly putting together a really strong year.”
West Virginia comfortably won the game 24-6 by taking care of the ball and feeding their workhorse Leddie Brown. The offensive line created big holes as Brown patiently picked his spots and gashed the TCU defense for 156 yards on the ground after being doubtful at the beginning of the week following an injury on the first series of last week's matchup versus Texas, although he would finish the game.
“We converted several third downs. (We had) zero turnovers in the game. I thought we improved on third down, then (we had) 180 rushing yards,” said West Virginia head coach Neal Brown. “If you look at us, we held them below their average rushing, and we went for 180, while (junior running back) Leddie (Brown) went for his fifth time over 100. He didn’t practice all week and got minimal reps, but he went in there and did a nice job. I thought our offensive line was much improved. We did a good job, especially on the interior.
“T.J. Simmons was big too, with two highly contested catches. The receivers have been beaten up a little bit, and they’ve really put in some consecutive games where they’ve played better, and to make two huge and contested catches, TJ for touchdowns, those were big.”
West Virginia gets a much-needed bye week before welcoming in the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday, November 14.
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