Trailing by four points at the opposing eight-yard line with 4:44 left on the clock, the West Virginia Mountaineers were in a prime position to score the go-ahead touchdown against No. 22 Texas.
It was fourth down and WVU coach Neal Brown has not been shy about going for it on fourth down, even as deep in opponent territory as the Mountaineers were. In fact, Brown and WVU had just gone for a fourth down from Texas’ 16-yard line on the previous drive. That attempt failed, with WVU quarterback Jarret Doege throwing just late to tight end Mike O’Laughling in the endzone.
The Mountaineer defense did its job, however, and gave the offense another shot to take the lead. The situation was fourth and one from the Texas eight-yard line, 4:44 left to play, trailing by only four points.
Offensive coordinator Gerad Parker, who handles play calling in the redzone, called for a run-pass-option. Doege pulled the ball back from running back Leddie Brown and threw to receiver Ali Jennings, who ran a post route into the endzone. The pass, however, fell incomplete. Texas senior defensive back Chris Brown had his hands all over Jennings as he ran his route in the endzone. There was contact seemingly well beyond what could constitute a defensive pass interference penalty, but no flag was ever thrown.
Texas (5-2, 4-2 Big 12) took over possession and was able to run the remaining clock out to pull out a narrow, 17-13 victory over the Mountaineers (4-3, 3-3).
Both offenses started the game on the right foot. Texas took the opening drive of the game 75 yards into West Virginia’s endzone. The Mountaineers returned the favor with a 75-yard touchdown drive of their own to tie the game at 7-7.
From then on, however, the defenses took over. For the rest of the first half, WVU gained just 72 more yards, punted four times and did not score again. Texas gained 160 more yards but was only able to tack on a field goal, missed a second field goal, punted three times and turned the ball over on downs.
The second half started similarly to the first with both teams scoring points. WVU took the opening drive 66 yards, ending in a 25-yard Casey Legg field goal. The Longhorns went 65 yards for a Sam Ehlinger touchdown pass to Jake Smith in response. After those first two drives of the second half, again the defenses took over.
After trading punts, West Virginia looked to have tied the game on an eight-yard touchdown pass to Winston Wright, but Wright had bobbled the ball before he secured it and the pass was ruled incomplete. On the ensuing play, Doege was sacked by DeMarvion Overshown and the Mountaineers had to settle for a field goal to cut the lead to 17-13. WVU’s next two drives were the two failed fourth-down conversions that ultimately allowed Texas to win the game.
Doege completed 35-50 passes for 317 yards, his fourth-consecutive 300-yard game. Leddie Brown ran 15 times for 47 yards and a touchdown. Four WVU receivers went over 50 yards, with senior T.J. Simmons leading the way with 71.
Ehlinger threw for 184 yards and two touchdowns. UT’s leading rusher was true freshman Bijan Robinson, who ran 12 times for 113 yards. Jake Smith and Brennan Eagles caught Ehlinger’s touchdown passes.