Year one of Neal Brown era ends with clutch win over TCU

WVU Football

The first year of the Neal Brown era ends on a high note as the West Virginia Mountaineers held on for a 20-17 road win over the TCU Horned Frogs.

West Virginia deferred after winning the coin toss, but they were the first on the board — and quickly. Tykee Smith grabbed his second interception of the season of Max Duggan and brought it into the red zone. Soon enough, Jarret Doege would find Leddie Brown for the 3-yard touchdown pass.

The Horned Frogs would answer a few tries later with a quick drive of their own, set up by a 68-yard run from Taye Barber. Seno Olonilua would finish it off on the ground.

The two squads traded field goals before halftime to tie the game up at 10.

WVU had the ball as the clock wound down in the first half, and had a good drive going. With under a minute to play, Jarret Doege dropped back and tried to find Sam James on a seam route — but Ar’Darius Washington swooped in and high-pointed the interception to turn it over before halftime. That turnover would be Doege’s second interception of the game.

Offensively, the first half belonged to TCU. They outgained the Mountaineers 188 to 105, with a considerable advantage on the ground (124 yards to 31).

Doege’s woes would come back out with him to start the second half. West Virginia’s first drive would end quickly when the quarterback would throw his third interception of the game, once again unable to squeeze the double coverage.

The following West Virginia drive would also end in disaster, when TCU’s Jalen Reagor would take a Josh Growden punt 70 yards for a go-ahead touchdown — the first such score allowed by the Mountaineers all season. TCU went up 17-10 on the play with 10:32 on the clock in the 3rd quarter.

Later in the quarter, Sean Mahone gave the Mountaineers a chance when he would nab Max Duggan’s second pick of the game, setting WVU up in TCU territory. They would get into the red zone, but settle for an Evan Staley field goal.

It would all come down to the last few minutes of play. West Virginia got the ball with 4:47 on the clock, hoping to put together a game-winning drive. It was a struggle at first, but quick passes and a targeting penalty would help move WVU down the field. Jarret Doege would eventually find Isaiah Esdale on a dime for a go-ahead 30-yard touchdown.

TCU was fortunate, getting two drives to steal the win. WVU happened to be a little more “fortunate,” though, as Nicktroy Fortune would make a clutch 4th down pass breakup to turn the ball over on the first try, followed by another turnover on downs on the second.

Doege would finish with 158 yards on top of the 3 interceptions and 2 touchdowns. He outplayed Duggan, who tossed for 144 yards and a pair of picks.

“Jarret didn’t have his A-game today. He wasn’t sharp,” Brown said.

However, Brown still had good things to say about his signal caller.

“But Jarret’s a football guy,” he added. “He stayed up on the sideline, and he’s got good courage. He got hit quite a bit, and we’ve had some issues with some blitzing in the last two ballgames, and he stood in there.”

Kennedy McKoy closed out his WVU career with 51 yards on 9 carries. Leddie Brown chipped in 88 all-purpose yards with a receiving touchdown, leading the team.

With the win, the Mountaineers finish their season with a 5-7 record, with a 3-6 record in the Big 12. On top of the loss for TCU, they finish with the same record as their opponents.

“I’m proud of these guys, proud of how we competed,” Brown said. “I felt like we were about the right things, but until you go out and do it in a game like this, you never know. So I think it says a lot about our buy in, I think it’s really positive about the future of where we’re going.”

West Virginia returns to the field on Sept. 5, 2020 against Florida State in Atlanta for the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game.

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