MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - When Dana Holgorsen stood behind the podium Saturday afternoon and tried to explain away a loss for the 10th time in his past 15 postgame press conferences, the West Virginia coach said the sort of thing that grows out of the most desperate, most frustrating times.
"It's a game we should have won," he said following a double-digit loss to a Texas Tech team that is now ranked No. 10 in the country and one of just 10 unbeaten teams left in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Certainly Holgorsen believed that, and such bravado is neither new to Holgorsen nor any other coach who's down on his luck and confident in his schemes. The thing about that statement on that that day, though, is many of the 54,084 in attendance at Mountaineer field, be they in gold and blue on Homecoming or red and black on Texas Tech's first regular-season game in the Eastern Time Zone since 2003, probably agreed.
Punchless so often this season, the Mountaineers were landing blows with regularity in the second half.
They scored on five straight possession, turning a 13-0 deficit into a 27-16 lead in the middle of the third quarter, and it was as stunning as it was emphatic.
WVU (3-4, 1-3 Big 12) had only scored on successive possessions four times this season. Two were against Georgia State.
Only once had the offense scored touchdowns on back-to-back possessions. That was against Georgia State.
Only once had WVU scored on more than two straight possessions. That was also against Georgia State.
The opposition matters, and WVU had only five scoring drives combined against William & Mary, Oklahoma and Maryland. In the best performance of the season, there were only five scoring drives in an upset at home against Oklahoma State.
Yet against a Red Raiders defense that entered ranked No. 15 in scoring defense and No. 11 in third down defense, the Mountaineers pieced together four long drives and one short one, that after forcing and recovering a fumble on a kickoff late in the first half.
"Our tempo was the best it's been all year," said Holgorsen, who this week readies WVU for Saturday's 3:45 p.m. game at Kansas State (2-4, 0-3).
It began with an 11-play 73-yard drive for a field goal before nine plays traveled 99 yards for a touchdown and the fumble-aided field goal ended the half and somehow tied the score 13-13.
The Mountaineers began the second half with a 13-play, 74-yard drive that lasted 5:28. WVU hadn't used as many plays or as much time on a touchdown drive all season. It was followed by a seven-play, 72-yard touchdown drive to make it 27-16.