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Turnovers Doom Mountaineers vs Texas

The Longhorns came into Morgantown on a beautiful autumn day, their burnt orange mirroring the picturesque falls colors in the surrounding mountains. Texas entered ranked eleventh in the AP Poll, looking to avenge the last second loss that Will Grier and WVU dealt them in Austin in 2018. Head Coach Neal Brown was trying to lead his team to the biggest win of his young coaching career at WVU, setting the stage for an exciting Big 12 showdown.

West Virginia’s offense would take the field first, looking for an early score. After two first downs generated by Texas penalties, Austin Kendall connected on a 44 yard bomb to Sam James to open the game with a 7-0 lead. James, despite exceptional coverage by his defender, dove and slide his hands under the ball to make a miraculous catch.

WVU’s defense would force Texas to a field goal attempt on their first position. Longhorn kicker, Cameron Dicker, an All Big 12 performer in 2018, missed the mark to the left.

A poor interception by Kendall on the following drive turned the tables and gave the Longhorns excellent field position. Texas quarterback, Sam Ehlinger, would strike quickly on a pass to Malcolm Epps, evening the score at seven a piece.

The two teams would exchange scores again early in the second quarter, Kendall scampering for a short touchdown and Ehlinger connecting with John Burt on a quick strike to the end zone.

Ehlinger would add another score, this time keeping it himself on a scramble for a 13 yard rushing score. West Virginia would get the ball back, having one more possession before the half but WVU would come up empty as Evan Staley missed wide right on a 47 yard attempt, his second miss of the first half.

The third quarter was a bend but don’t break period with little scoring for both teams. The lone points came for WVU when Keith Washington picked off Ehlinger, returning it 34 yards to set up a Staley field goal.

The Mountaineers would start the fourth, down only four points. Facing third and one, Kendall would attempt a slant route completion but Texas linebacker, B.J. Foster, would break the pass up, tipping it to himself for an acrobatic interception as he fell to his back. Three plays later Devin Duverney, would run the ball in for the Longhorns to put them up 28-17.

The following possession would end in a similar fate, a Kendall interception, followed quickly by a Texas touchdown. The two quick turnovers and scores quickly put the game out of reach for the under powered WVU offense. The West Virginia defense which had played admirably all day, couldn’t overcome the short fields it was tasked with time and again late in the game. Texas would carry the lead to the end, only a late touchdown pass from Kendall to Bryce Wheaton, tightened the game to 42-31

WVU’s offense would rack up 463 yards on the Longhorns, surprisingly beating Texas in terms of yards gained, who amassed 427 yards. The stat would turn out to be a false narrative though as turnovers and missed field goals defined the offense for the day. It handed easy points to Texas and left valuable points for themselves off the board. Austin Kendall would finish the day 31 of 46 for 367 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. The Mountaineers struggled on the ground, gaining only 96 yards as a team. Through the air they were led by T.J. Simmons, who hauled in seven passes for 135 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively the team was led by Josh Norwood, he had ten tackles to go along with a pass break up. Darius Stills had four stops, including a sack and three tackles for loss.

Sam Ehlinger completed 18 of 33 passes for 211 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. On the ground he gained an additional 45 yards and two scores. Roschon Johnson led the Longhorns ground attack with 121 yards.

The Mountaineers will be in action again next Saturday as they face off against Iowa State a 4pm. Texas will face off against Oklahoma next week in the heralded Red River Rivalry.

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