Morgantown, WV - The West Virginia Mountaineers picked up a 31-23 win over the Texas Longhorns on senior day, keeping bowl hopes alive heading into the final week of the season.
West Virginia struck first finding pay dirt on the opening drive of the game. QB Jarret Doege led the charge going 6/7 for 72 yards with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Sam James.
The Texas offense couldn't find any rhythm early, starting the game with four consecutive three and outs. West Virginia's defense was very active and won the battle in the trenches, forcing Texas to throw the ball which has not been their strength.
Doege remained hot, leading West Virginia down the field for another score early in the 2nd quarter to make it a 14-0 game. It all started with a big 31-yard pass that Doege dropped in the bucket to Bryce Ford-Wheaton up the sideline on 3rd & 7. Later in the drive, Doege converted another 3rd down with a 17-yard pass to Isaiah Esdale over the middle. To top it all off, Doege then floated one to the back pylon to Winston Wright for the touchdown.
The Longhorns finally got on the scoreboard midway through the 2nd quarter thanks to a powerful run game, which was an area they struggled in on their first four possessions. Steve Sarkisian only called a pass on the first play of the drive and then turned to Roschon Johnson and Keilan Robinson the rest of the way. Robinson ripped off a 49-yard scamper to cut the lead in half.
West Virginia answered back with a 12-play, 82-yard scoring drive that ate up six minutes of clock. Doege had a pair of 20-yard gains through the air to Winston Wright Jr. and true freshman Kaden Prather. Leddie Brown capped off the drive walking into the end zone untouched for a 2-yard touchdown.
Texas moved the ball right down the field but a holding penalty stalled the drive, forcing the Longhorns to settle for a field goal. Cameron Dicker booted one through from 50 yards out, bringing the score to 21-10. With one minute left, West Virginia wanted one more crack at putting points on the board. A 13-yard run from Leddie Brown and a 19-yard reception to Sam James gave the Mountaineers an opportunity to add onto the lead. However, Casey Legg missed a 48-yard field goal, keeping the score at 21-10 at the half.
After each offense punted on their first drive of the 2nd half, both offenses got rolling. Texas benched starting quarterback Casey Thompson for Hudson Card and it provided the Longhorns with a spark that they badly needed. The Mountaineers did have a dose of bad luck when it appeared that they had Texas stopped on 3rd down. Scottie Young got a hand on the pass but deflected right into the hands of Marcus Washington for the 1st down. Just a few plays later, Card delivered a strike deep downfield to star freshman receiver Xavier Worthy for a 52-yard touchdown, drawing the Longhorns to within four, 21-17.
On the ensuing drive, Jarret Doege took back-to-back sacks which created a 3rd & 18 and an opportunity for Texas to get the ball right back. Doege found a hole in the Texas secondary and connected with Winston Wright for a gain of 19 to move the sticks. Leddie Brown carried the Mountaineers down the field with huge gains of 26 and 19 to push the ball inside the red zone. Once again, Doege made a play on 3rd down, this time finding a wide-open Sean Ryan in the back of the end zone for a touchdown.
Texas went back to the ground game and it paid off. Keilan Robinson busted loose for a 25-yard pickup and Roschon Johnson finished the drive off with a rushing score inside the five. Texas went for the two-point conversion to make it a three-point game but Hudson Card's pass was deflected by linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo, resulting in an incompletion.
Each time Texas cut into the lead, the Mountaineers continued to answer the bell. Jarret Doege threw a dart to Reese Smith on 3rd & 15 to keep the drive alive. Leddie Brown and Tony Mathis helped pick up some yardage to push the offense into field goal range which allowed Casey Legg to sail one through the uprights pushing the lead to 31-23.
Texas pushed the ball into WVU territory but a bad throw by Hudson Card was intercepted by senior safety Sean Mahone. Leddie Brown carried the ball three times to force Texas to use up all of its timeouts and on 4th down, Neal Brown left his offense on the field. Doege chucked up a pass to the end zone to Isaiah Esdale but it fell incomplete, giving Texas a chance.
The Longhorns couldn't do anything on the final drive and the Mountaineers held on to win the game, moving their record to 5-6 on the season.
West Virginia will play the final game of the regular season next week at Kansas. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
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