Better late than never. Heading into Saturday’s contest, West Virginia was a field goal favorite against the No. 24 ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders.
For about three quarters, you couldn’t tell that was the case. The Mountaineers would flip a switch late, however, and score on three of their four possessions to beat the Red Raiders 46-35.
The game began with an early Red Raider score. On their second play from scrimmage, Nic Shimonek hit T.J. Vasher on a screen pass that turned into a 60 yard touchdown run.
It would take Will Grier and West Virginia only three plays to respond in kind. Explosive pass plays got the Mountaineers in Red Raider territory and then Grier found Sills for 31 yards and the score to tie it up, 7-7.
Again Texas Tech responded, with Shimonek finding Dylan Cantrell from six yards out. Grier would find holes the Red Raider coverage, however, and set up the Mike Molina 43 yard field goal to close the lead at 14-10.
A few series later, Texas Tech got the ball in Mountaineer territory off a short punt. Shimonek went to Keke Coutee multiple times on the next drive, leading to a six yard touchdown catch to make it 21-10 in favor of the Red Raiders.
The ‘Eers would show that they weren’t going away, as West Virginia marched the ball down the field and Justin Crawford ran it in from five yards out to close the gap to 21-17.
The Mountaineers looked to be getting some momentum when they got the Red Raiders to fourth down, but Dominic Panazzolo picked up the first down on a fake punt. A 53 yard touchdown pass on the next play to Vasher put Texas Tech up 28-17.
That score would hold to halftime, as kicker Michael Barden would miss his second field goal of the day to end the second quarter.
The second half started out with less scoring. Texas Tech used their running game to get down the field, an effort that would pay off for six points. The score came when Tre King got loose on a 30 yard run into the end zone and put the Red Raiders up 35-17.
West Virginia was determined to show that they weren’t just going to go away, however, and aided by some Texas Tech defensive penalties the Mountaineers got inside the Red Raider 20 yard line. David Sills V would grab the fade in the end zone to make it a two score game, 35-24.
After a missed Red Raider field goal, the defense for the Mountaineers began to step up and force multiple three-and-outs.
That would allow West Virginia to start getting the ball into the end zone. Marching the ball downfield, Will Grier would hit Ka’Ruan White for a 32 yard touchdown pass to the corner of the end zone. After getting the two point conversion, West Virginia would close the distance to 35-32.
Marching down the field, Grier would manage to get the ‘Eers again inside the redzone. He connected with White as he streaked across the field for the 17 yard score, putting West Virginia up, 39-32.
Then, for the first time all game, the Mountaineers began to get the ball moving on the ground consistently. That helped get West Virginia to the Texas Tech 11 yard line, where Grier connected with Sills for another touchdown to give West Virginia a two score lead.
Texas Tech looked to rally with a late game drive, but a Nic Shimonek pass was intercepted with a little over two minutes to play. West Virginia would run out the clock to get the win, 46-35.
|3rd Down Eff||5-14||4-13|
|4th Down Eff||2-2||1-1|
|Yards Per Pass||8.3||8.6|
|Yards Per Rush||5.8||1.5|
|TTU – N. Shimonek||24/39||323||8.3||4||1||70.8|
|WVU – W. Grier||32/41||352||8.6||5||1||83.9|
|TTU – J. Stockton||15||96||6.4||0||29|
|WVU – J. Crawford||14||47||3.4||1||19|
|TTU – T.J. Vasher||2||113||56.5||2||60|
|WVU – K. White||8||114||14.3||2||32|
EMPTYING THE NOTEBOOK
For both teams, this was a sloppy game. That was particularly evidenced by the fact that there were fifteen penalties in the first half. Many of those were of the late hit variety and those kinds of defensive penalties assisted both offenses in being able to drive down the field. In a game that was defined by scoring and offensive playmaking, penalties undeniably made a difference in gifting yards to the opposing team. Both squads will hopefully look to clean that up as they head into practice this week.
Of particular note was West Virginia’s big play passing game. On a day when the Mountaineers were not able to get any kind of meaningful running game going, West Virginia’s ability to make big plays through the air helped them pick up yardage in this one. That big play ability often helped them both when they connected downfield and when they were able to draw pass interference penalties to keep the chains moving.
Texas Tech’s offense looked balanced on the day, but stalling late in the game really hurt them. The Red Raiders were unable to pick up even a first down, though, for three possessions in a row. That gave West Virginia enough time on the clock to be able to march the ball down the field and flip the game. Had Texas Tech found some ways to even pick up a first down before their last series of the game, they might have been able to possess the ball longer and hold off West Virginia’s late surge.
Likewise, West Virginia’s defense was victimized for most of three quarters, but they managed to harass Shimonek in the backfield and contain the Red Raider running game late in order to get the ball back to their offense. The defense showcased the ability to close out the game late, but after giving up 28 points in the first quarter, Tony Gibson will certainly have some work to do.
Texas Tech’s Michael Barden had an undeniably bad day kicking field goals. He missed all three field goals he tried on the day in a game that was decided by nine points. The game wasn’t lost because of the kicker, but had just one of those field goals been made Texas Tech might have been able to hold off West Virginia. When getting points on the road is at a premium, moving forward Texas Tech will need Barden to have a more reliable leg.