Through three and a half quarters, Saturday’s Big 12 football game between West Virginia and Texas Tech had been an even affair.
The two teams traded body blows through much of the game, with 10 points being the largest lead either team built and that only lasted for two and a half minutes. The knockout punch came midway through the fourth quarter when Red Raider defensive back Zech McPhearson returned a WVU fumble 56 yards to the end zone for a touchdown.
That defensive touchdown made the score 34-27 in favor of the Red Raiders. The Mountaineers had opportunities to go down and tie the game after that but failed.
“The fumble we had in the fourth quarter, that wasn’t the reason we lost the game, but that was the turning point,” WVU football coach Neal Brown said postgame. “We had two or three possessions where we had an opportunity to get it done and didn’t, we just didn’t get it done. We’ve got to be better, we’ve got to win these types of games.”
Brown said the teams were so even throughout the game that the outcome really came down to that fourth quarter.
“They won the fourth quarter, they won the game. We lost the fourth quarter, we lost the game,” Brown said. “Pretty much that simple.”
West Virginia outgained Texas Tech 86 to 42 in the fourth quarter, but the Red Raiders scored the only points of the period on the fumble recovered and returned for a touchdown. WVU was on the Texas Tech 46 yard line quarterback Jarret Doege completed a screen pass to receiver Sam James, but TTU linebacker Jacob Morgenstern read the play and jarred the ball out of James’ hands. The ball bounced right to McPhearson who took it 56 yards for the score.
— Texas Tech Football (@TexasTechFB) October 25, 2020
“We were in a position midway through the fourth, had the ball in great field position inside our own 50, felt good about it,” Brown said. “Missed a couple blocks, fumbled the football right there, they return it and we didn’t answer. This game’s not complicated, that was the story.”
West Virginia was only able to move the ball 21 yards on the ensuing drive and punted the ball back to the Red Raiders with five minutes left. TTU only gained 34 yards, but took 4:25 off the clock before giving it back to the Mountaineers. Doege was unable to connect on a last-second Hail Mary and WVU lost 34-27.
In four fourth-quarter drives, WVU ran 21 plays for 81 yards and no scores. They punted twice, lost a fumble and ran the clock out.
“We moved the ball up and down the field, our fourth quarter wasn’t good enough,” Brown said. “We had position to win the game and we didn’t go win the game. That’s what it was.”