A dreary day in Morgantown ended in heartbreak for the Mountaineers, as Texas Tech advanced to 7-0, 4-0 in conference with a win over West Virginia, 37-27. West Virginia falls to 3-4 on the season, and 1-3 in conference play.
The story line was not about the Red Raiders, but rather the Mountaineers, as they let an 11 point lead slip through their hands late in the game.
Texas Tech got on the board first just four minutes into the game on a 10 yard touchdown pass from Davis Webb to tight end Jace Amaro. The early score led to momentum for the Red Raiders, as they would force a fumble by Mountaineer running back Charles Sims on the following possession for West Virginia.
Davis Webb and the Red Raider offense got the ball back, and needed just four plays to reach the redzone for the second time in the game. The Mountaineer defense would respond in a big way, forcing Texas Tech to kick a field goal with 6:09 to go in the first quarter. West Virginia moved the ball well on their next possession, pushing it all the way to the Texas Tech 26 yard line, but came up empty after Coach Holgorsen decided to go for it on fourth down. After the game, Holgorsen regretted the decision.
"I thought we were moving the ball well," said Holgorsen. "Looking back on it, I regret that decision."
Things wouldn't get any better for the Mountaineers as Texas Tech was able to get another field goal a couple minutes into the second quarter, making it 13-0. Just when it looked like Texas Tech would put West Virginia away early, the Mountaineers responded. Clint Trickett led the offense down the field again, this time on an 11 play, 73 yard drive. Kicker Josh Lambert would get the first points of the day for West Virginia, putting a 33 yard attempt through the uprights for three points, making the score 13-3 Texas Tech.
The Red Raider offense would return to the redzone, getting the ball to the West Virginia one yard line. Despite getting to the one yard line, Texas Tech was unable to come away with points. Isaiah Bruce forced a fumble by quarterback Davis Webb to give the ball back to the Mountaineer offense.
The West Virginia offense would put together a game changing 99 yard drive when Dreamius Smith scored from 34 yards out, cutting the Texas Tech lead to 13-10.
On the following kickoff, Terrell Chestnut fumbled the ball for the Red Raiders, and Brandon Napoleon recovered for West Virginia. Just 23 seconds before halftime, Josh Lambert made his second field goal of the game, making it a 13-13 game at the half.
The momentum carried over to the second half for the Mountaineers. Coming out of the locker room, West Virginia pieced together a 13 play, 74 yard drive that led to seven points on a Charles Sims four yard touchdown run. The Mountaineers would take a 20-13 lead.
Just five short plays later, Texas Tech responded with points. A 24 yard pass play to tight end Jace Amaro set up the Red Raiders deep in West Virginia territory. The Mountaineer defense would rise to the occasion once again, and force Tech to a field goal. The three points would make it a four point game, 20-16.
Clint Trickett and the Mountaineer offense did not let up on the throttle, as they continued to move the ball on a winded Texas Tech defense. A 22 yard pass play from Trickett to Shorts got the Mountaineers to midfield. Trickett would then hook up with receiver Kevin White two plays later for another first down. The Mountaineer would cap off another scoring drive with a 12 yard run by running back Dreamius Smith. With 4:31 to go in the third quarter, West Virginia led 27-16.
From this point on, the game belonged to Texas Tech. The No. 16 Red Raiders did not hit the panic button. Tech quarterback Davis Webb found his tight end Jace Amaro once again, this time for a 32 yard completion. The Red Raiders capped off their eight play, 80 yard drive with a one yard run by Kenny Williams, cutting the Mountaineer lead to 27-23.
The West Virginia offense was held in check for the rest of the game, and that did not sit well with Head Coach Dana Holgorsen.
"They forced us to five straight three-and-outs to end the game," said Holgorsen. "That was just awful."
Despite the struggles on the offense, the West Virginia defense kept the game close until the fourth quarter. The Texas Tech offense found a way to keep drives alive in the fourth quarter, and according to Defensive Coordinator Keith Patterson, that was the difference in the game.
"We couldn't get off the field on third down," said Patterson. "That was the key to the game."
Davis Webb would lead his offense to another two scores before the day was over. Another touchdown pass to Jace Amaro with 1:01 left in the ball game would seal the deal, as the Red Raiders would come back to defeat the Mountaineers 37-27. For the day, Webb finished 36 of 50 for 462 yards and two touchdowns against the West Virginia defense.
After the game, Holgorsen was disappointed by his team's will to win late in the game.
"We played a terrible first quarter, a good second and third, and then an awful fourth," said Holgorsen. "We played well for two and a half quarters. In the second half, they made more plays than we did, and we just didn't finish them off. I think we lacked the will to knock them out, and that will be addressed."
The difference in the game was the play of Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro. Amaro ended the day with nine reception for 136 yards and two touchdowns. After the game, he had West Virginia coaches Dana Holgorsen and Keith Patterson speechless.
"You can't cover him," said Holgorsen. "Even when you cover him he still makes plays."
Keith Patterson called Amaro a nightmare to defend.
"He's a matchup nightmare," said Patterson. "No matter what you do he still catches the ball. He's a great player."
It was a tough loss for the Mountaineers, and to put it quite bluntly, they let it slip away. After the game, receiver Kevin White says that he and his team should have won.
"We had it in the bag," said White. "We were up, all we had to do was finish."
Finding a positive is tough after such a heartbreaking loss, but the Mountaineers walk away from today's game with a couple. One of those was the success of the run game, and the play of quarterback Clint Trickett. The Mountaineers ended the day with 183 rushing yards on 39 carries. The offensive line did a good job blocking early according to Dreamius Smith.
"They gave me some good holes," said Smith. "I just took what they gave me."
Quarterback Clint Trickett finished the day 27 of 43 for 254 yards and one touchdown. Despite the statistics not being flashy, Holgorsen was pleased with Trickett's execution of the offense.
"Our tempo was the best of the year," said Holgorsen. "We started to get in a rhythm, and we had a lot of plays. Up until the five three-and-outs, I was pleased with Clint and our offense."
It's a final from Milan Puskar Stadium, as the Mountaineers fall 37-27 at the hands of the Red Raiders.
The Mountaineers now head to Manhattan, Kan. next weekend to meet up with the Kansas State Wildcats.