WVU football: Mountaineers lose another lead, another game
MORGANTOWN -- West Virginia let a fourth straight opponent rally in the second half and couldn't win a second straight overtime game.
Texas converted a pair of third downs in overtime, including a 2-yard play action touchdown pass from Case McCoy to fullback Alex De La Torre for a 47-40 overtime win. The Mountaineers had first-and-goal at the 6-yard line in overtime, but turned the ball over with an interception on fourth down to move to the brink of bowl eligibility.
WVU (4-6, 2-5 Big 12) needs to win its final two games of the season, though they are against the league's two worst teams who have a combined zero conference wins. The Mountaineers play at Kansas next week and then have an open week before playing host to Iowa State Nov. 30.
Backup quarterback Paul Millard came off the bench in the first half and completed 16 of 32 passes for 259 yards. Charles Sims ran for 93 yards and three touchdowns and caught five passes for 42 yards. Mario Alford had 97 yards receiving and one touchdown and Kevin White added 89 yards receiving.
The Longhorns (7-2, 6-0) won their sixth straight game and haven't lost since Sept 14. McCoy was 27-for-49 for 283 yards and three scores. Jaxon Shipley caught seven passes for 82 yards and one score and Mike Davis added 91 yards receiving while Malcolm Brown scored once and ran for 89 yards.
A Mountaineer Field crowd of 58,570 witnessed a special teams rarity, six fumbles, five turnovers and Millard rally the Mountaineers after Clint Trickett was injured in the first quarter.
The Mountaineers seemed to finally take control in the middle of the fourth quarter. Alford's 72-yard touchdown reception gave them a 40-37 lead and the defense forced a rare second-half stop. Texas had converted its first seven third downs of the half on three straight touchdown drives, but an eighth conversion fell to the ground when McCoy's pass was behind Davis, who had plenty of room to work with after the catch.
WVU took 3:59 off the clock, but Nick O'Toole's 30-yard punt set Texas up at its 36 with 2:35 remaining. The Longhorns had first-and-10 at WVU's 11-yardline after Brown's 27-yard run, but they settled for a 24-yard field goal with 14 seconds left in regulation.
WVU found itself in what's become familiar territory in conference play. Sims' third touchdown run of the game put them ahead 26-16 in the third quarter. Texas was in trouble with just 158 yards of offense and only one conversion on 11 third downs.
Yet WVU continued its habit of letting opposing offenses do what they want in the second half. Texas Tech trailed 27-16 last month, but won 37-27. WVU led Kansas State 12-7, but lost 35-12. Even in last week's win against TCU, WVU was ahead 10 points with seven minutes left, but needed overtime to win.
The Longhorns quickly rattled off 14 unanswered points and three straight touchdown drives by converting eight third downs in a row.
The first score came when Davis got behind freshman cornerback Daryl Worley for a 49-yard touchdown with 4:15 left in the quarter.
Texas blitzed on first down and Millard overthrew Sims, who was wide open in the middle just past the line of scrimmage and could only jump and tip the pass. Millard was sacked on third-and-11 and fumbled, WVU's sixth fumble of the game. Sims recovered and WVU was fortunate to punt.
The Longhorns converted a third-and-1 with a 29-yard pass to Davis and then scored on Bergeron's 8-yard run to go ahead 30-26.
It didn't last long, though. Millard completed a 31-yard pass to White on third-and-5 from the Texas 47 and Smith finished the drive 59 seconds into the final quarter with an 8-yard touchdown run around a creative block by Sims. Texas defensive coordinator Greg Robinson was adamant Sims should have been called for holding.
Texas then converted three third downs, including a 36-yard pass to Shipley on third-and-14. A 10-yard touchdown reception by Shipley on third and goal put the Longhorns up 37-33 with 8:57 to go.
On the third play of the next possession, Alford slipped inside cornerback Duke Thomas and caught a quick slant and won the race to the end zone. It's WVU's longest pass play of the season just 82 seconds after Shipley's score.
Texas had another third down conversion lined up, but McCoy's pass was behind Davis, who had plenty or room to run.
Trickett didn't last through the first quarter and left the game with an undisclosed injury after he was sacked for the fourth time and lost a fumble at his 26. His defense held, dropping Brown for a loss of a yard on third-and-2 to set up a 37-yard field goal.
That cut WVU's lead to 9-3 following an inspired start by the special teams. After WVU punted following its first possession, linebacker Jewone Snow raced untouched through the Texas punt protection and blocked the punt through the end zone. It was WVU's first punt block safety since 2000.
Alford returned the safety kick from his 15 to the Texas 42 - a season-high 43-yard kickoff return - and Trickett completed a 14-yard pass to Sims and a 17-yard pass to White to set up first-and-goal. Sims scored on third-and-goal from the 3 to go up 9-0.
The Texas defensive line took over to end the quarter, though. WVU had 19 yards on 19 plays in the first quarter and lost 20 yards on its final 10 plays.
Millard threw short to White on back-to-back downs on his first possession and was then sacked and lost a fumble at his 27 on the next possession. The Longhorns took a 10-9 lead when Brown scored on third-and-1 from the 2.
Millard then went 0-for-2 again and WVU punted having lost five yards on his first nine plays, which included five incomplete passes. Will Clarke sacked McCoy to set up third-and-19 and the Mountaineers took over after a punt at their 49. Millard was 3-for-3 for 42 yards on the drive and WVU went back up 16-10 when Sims scored on a 3-yard run.
Texas punted back to WVU and Millard was sacked again and lost a fumble again, this time at his 9. The Longhorns gained just one yard and settled for a 25-yard field goal.
Millard then completed 5 of 7 passes for 56 yards on a 15-pplay, 76-yard drive that ended with WVU running on third-and-goal from the 14 to set up a 30-yard field goal as the first half ended with WVU ahead 19-13 at the half and Millard ended the half completing 8 of his final 11 passes for 98 yards.