The Red Raiders came into Morgantown on a cold fall morning. While there may have been frost covering the ground, both Texas Tech and the Mountaineers were looking to shake off the dust of their current losing streaks. Both teams were sitting at 3-5, looking to turn the table to give themselves a chance for a late push for bowl eligibility. A little more than a week ago WVU put up a valiant effort to upset nationally ranked Baylor but fell short late with a blocked field goal. With several key players injured it would take an all out team effort for the Blue and Gold to pick up a big win at home.
The Red Raiders, led by their backup quarterback, Jett Duffey, drove the field after taking the opening kickoff. The Mountaineer defense fought hard, forcing three third downs but Texas Tech’s Ta’Zhawn Henry punched in an attempt from the two yard line put them ahead 7-0.
Austin Kendall on the following possession would hit George Campbell deep for a 50 yard reception, setting up the Mountaineers for first and goal. A tackle for loss and a dropped pass forced WVU into a difficult third and down situation. Kendall was flushed out of the pocket and eventually brought down well short of the first down mark. Casey Legg, in for the injured Evan Staley, converted a 30-yard field goal to narrow the margin to four points.
Texas Tech would strike back quickly as Duffey hit Dalton Rigdon on an 81 -yard bomb to extend the lead back out to 14-7. Unfortunately for the Blue and Gold, the day would unravel from there. Attempting to make their own quick scoring play, Kendall threaded a tight pass to Campbell. The receiver dove trying and make a difficult catch but instead deflected the ball into the air where Derrick Coleman intercepted the pass for the Red Raiders. That was the eighth interception for Coleman on the season, who returned the pick 30 yards. Texas Tech would score seven plays later on a Weston Wright rush.
WVU would finally find the end zone early in the second quarter when Isaiah Esdale completed a wide receiver pass to Kennedy McKoy for a 24-yard score. Despite the trick play the Mountaineers would end the half down 35-10.
The third quarter saw both teams move the ball up and down the field without any change on the score board. Following a late interception in the third quarter, Head Coach Neal Brown would make a change at quarterback. Jarrett Doege, the transfer from Bowling Green would get his change to show what he could do leading the offense.
In the final drive of the game Doege would take the Mountaineer offense down the field on a drive that lasted seven plays and 61 yards. It was then capped off with a nine yard Tony Mathis reception for a touchdown. Doege moved in and out of the pocket well when facing pressure and made several nice touch throws over defenders.
The Mountaineer offense lacked execution all day. Despite gaining 549 yards, the team failed to take advantage of opportunities. They committed four turnovers and dropped seven passes, two of them fourth down touchdowns. Of that 549 yards a mere 51 were gained in the running game, a consistent issue for the WVU offense. Austin Kendall finished the game 26 of 43 for 355 yards and two interceptions. Freshmen Sam James had a career day with 223 yards on 14 catches. George Campbell almost broke the century mark, finishing with 95 yards on his three receptions. Jarrett Doege, who entered late in the game finished 11 of 17 for 119 yards and a touchdown.
Texas Tech thrashed the West Virginia defense, gaining 481 yards and 22 first downs. Jett Duffey finished the game 24 of 34 for 354 yards and a touchdown. Leading the Red Raiders in rushing was Ta’Zhawn Henry who gained 67 yards and two touchdowns. A series of receivers played well for the Red Raiders. Dalton Rigdon had 106 yards and a touchdown, while Erik Ezukanma added five catches for 70 yards.
Neal Brown ended his post game press conference with a strong statement, stating that this coaching staff will build a winning program at West Virginia and it will be with these players. The Mountaineers will have three more opportunities to show case their talent this season, including next Saturday in Manhattan, Kansas vs the Wildcats.