West Virginia Falls to Texas Tech
The Mountaineer offense went three and out to start the game as wide receiver Sean Ryan dropped a wide open pass down the field for what would have been a first down.
It didn't take long for new Texas Tech starting quarterback Henry Colombi to find his groove as he guided the Red Raiders right down the field for a touchdown on a drive that went 69 yards on 10 plays. Colombi went 5/5 for 53 yards passing on the drive but it was him using his legs on the score rushing it in from one yard out on 4th and goal.
West Virginia answered quickly on the ensuing drive as Jarret Doege hit Sam James up the sideline for a 32-yard catch, which was a beautifully delivered ball. Neal Brown followed that play call up with some trickeration that sucked the Texas Tech defense in on the run. Doege handed the ball to Leddie Brown who pitched it to freshman receiver Reese Smith who was coming back toward the middle of the field and pitched it back to Doege who found tight end Mike O'Laughlin wide open, hitting for 34 yards. A couple of plays later, West Virginia went back to its bread and butter by handing it off to Leddie Brown for a three-yard touchdown.
Near the end of the first quarter, Texas Tech regained the lead, this time on a 48-yard gash up the middle by SaRodorick Thompson. The PAT was no good as Trey Wolff's kick didn't get above his line up front on what was a shaky hold.
West Virginia's defense took a huge blow at the end of the first quarter when linebacker Tony Fields II was ejected for targeting quarterback Henry Colombi as he was sliding to the ground, which was a questionable call to say the least. Later in the drive, Dante Stills came up with a big sack to put Texas Tech in 3rd and 14 and the Mountaineer defense would eventually get off the field on a 4th down stop.
The Mountaineer offense moved the ball into plus territory and had a touchdown on a check pass to running back Leddie Brown, but was called back as right tackle John Hughes was flagged for holding. Kicker Evan Staley chipped in three points from 41 yards out to cut the lead to 13-10.
Henry Colombi and the Red Raider offense continued to have their way with the football consistently converting on 3rd and 4th downs to move the chains. Head coach Matt Wells elected to go for it on 4th and 11 instead of attempting a field goal and it turned out to be the right decision. They converted the 4th and long on a 14-yard catch to Erik Ezukanma and then a couple of plays later, Colombi connected withe Trey Cleveland for an 11-yard touchdown pass (1st career touchdown reception for Cleveland).
With just over two and a half minutes remaining in the first half, the Mountaineers chipped their way down the field with four and five yard gains before eventually settling for a 45-yard field goal from Evan Staley as the clock hit triple zeroes. Despite a poor showing from West Virginia's defense in the first half (235 yards allowed), they find themselves trailing by only one score at the half, 20-13.
On the first play of the 2nd half, defensive end Jeffery Pooler Jr. forced a fumble and the ball was recovered by fellow defensive lineman Dante Stills at the 25-yard line.
Doege stood in the pocket, took a hit, and delivered a nice ball toward the pylon to Winston Wright Jr. who hauled it in for a 20-yard catch to put the Mountaineers on the doorstep. Neal Brown drew up a nice play from the two with a play-action fake to Brown and a pitch out to tight end T.J. Banks for the touchdown to tie up the game at 20 a piece.
The game would not be tied for long as the Red Raiders efficiently moved the ball on the ground, which ended in a five-yard touchdown rush by true freshman Tahj Brooks. By this point in the game, West Virginia had allowed 138 yards on the ground.
The Mountaineers, now trailing by a touchdown, felt like it needed to keep the ball in their hands so instead of punting the ball back to a hot Red Raider offense, Neal Brown called for a fake punt in which wide receiver Winston Wright Jr. came in motion and took the direct snap and moved the chains. On the very next play, Doege went right back to Wright for 38 yards to get the ball deep into Texas Tech territory. The drive was capped off by yet another rushing touchdown by Leddie Brown from one yard out to tie the game back up.
West Virginia followed up the touchdown with a quick defensive stop in what looked like the Mountaineers were about to get really good field position. That was until punter Austin McNamara booted a 87-yard punt (school record) that rolled into the end zone for a touchback. Yes, 87 yards.
The Mountaineer defense started getting back to the defense we are accustomed to seeing and strung together a three consecutive stops to hold the Red Raiders to 27 points. On the third stop, West Virginia got terrific starting field position in plus territory, but wide receiver Sam James continued his struggles and put the ball on the turf as Texas Tech picked it up and returned it for a 56-yard touchdown to give Texas Tech the lead back.
West Virginia got one last chance at the end but didn't have much time to work with and had to chuck a hail mary to the end zone with one second left, which fell incomplete.
West Virginia falls to 3-2 overall and 2-2 in Big 12 conference play.
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