For the second week in a row, West Virginia fell on a last-minute field goal as the Texas Tech Red Raiders took a 23-20 victory over the Mountaineers at Milan Puskar Stadium on Saturday.
Texas Tech opened the game on top, taking advantage of a slow Mountaineer start by scoring 17 unanswered points in the first half. The Mountaineers responded in the second half with 17 unanswered points of their own, but the final minutes turned into a back-and-forth field goal game — with the table tilted towards the Red Raiders.
The West Virginia defense seemed to start strong, stopping Texas Tech’s opening drive with an interception by Sean Mahone. The offense didn’t get moving, though, and punted the ball right back to the Red Raiders. TTU went on two straight scoring drives, punctuated by touchdowns from running back SaRoderick Thompson. That gave the Red Raiders a two-touchdown lead as the first quarter closed.
“The first half was inexcusable,” said WVU coach Neal Brown. “I apologize to the fans. (I’m) pissed with how we played in the first half. We weren’t ready to go.”
The lead grew to three possessions in the closing minutes of the first half as kicker Jonathan Garibay made his first field goal of the game. Meanwhile, the West Virginia offense had gained just 99 yards as they went without points in the first half.
WVU came out of the locker room fast, scoring on its first four drives of the second half. Leddie Brown punched the first one in from four yards out, capping off a 7-play, 75-yard drive to open the third quarter.
They added a field goal and a touchdown on the team’s subsequent drives, all while the defense held the Red Raiders to a pair of threes-and-out to open their half.
West Virginia got a massive boost from big plays in the second half, especially from the wide receiver corps. Isaiah Esdale had his best game as a Mountaineer, catching for 113 yards and a touchdown. Winston Wright added 106 yards as well, adding 36 yards on special teams.
It became a field goal game in the fourth quarter, though. Garibay ended the first drive of the fourth quarter with a 29-yard knock, then West Virginia ate seven minutes off the clock to set Casey Legg up for his own kick from 28 yards.
That left the Red Raiders with four-and-a-half minutes to mount a winning drive — unfortunately for Neal Brown and WVU, the Mountaineers had already used two of their timeouts earlier in the half, so they were only able to stop the clock once as the Red Raiders pushed the ball into field goal position. Garibay made his kick with 18 seconds left, and the Mountaineers couldn’t score as the clock moved down to zero.
After a rough first half, Jarret Doege finished strong in the second, completing 25-of-33 passes for 318 yards and a touchdown. TTU’s Henry Colombi went 23-of-34 for 266 yards.
“He played well. I mean, what is he? He’s 25-of-33 for 318 yards. Most of that was in the second half,” Brown said. “If they want to be upset with all of us in the first half, that’s fair. I thought he played well in the second half. There might have been one or two that he’d like to have back, but he played well. He gave us a chance.”
Leddie Brown added his sixth touchdown on the ground this season, on top of his 88 all-purpose yards. Thompson notched two scores and 48 rushing yards.
The Mountaineers fall to 0-2 in the Big 12 after their third straight loss to the Red Raiders, while Texas Tech breaks a six-game road losing streak and move to 1-1 in the league.
WVU is back on the field on Oct. 9 at Baylor. Kickoff is set for noon ET on Fox Sports 1.