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WVU Football Series History: Texas Longhorns



While very few games have been contested between WVU and Texas, many of them have been heated and a sense of resentment has arisen between the two fanbases. With just one meeting before WVU joined the conference, this is a series that has been defined by Big 12 play and has affected the final standings throughout its history.

The only non conference game between the Mountaineers and Longhorns took place in 1956 and was scheduled in response to criticism of WVU’s scheduling. At the time, the Mountaineers often played what are now Division III programs in non conference and then competed in a weak Southern Conference to earn perennial bowl bids. After calls for stronger scheduling after the 1954 Sugar Bowl, coach Art Lewis began scheduling major power programs for non conference away games, including this one with Texas. The Longhorns did not have one of their better teams of the decade but it was still in important games in terms of name value. The game itself was not much to write home about, a defensive struggle in Austin that was defined by the play of WVU fullback/linebacker Larry Krutko. The powerful ballcarrier tallied 69 yards on 15 carries and scored the Mountaineers’ only touchdown of the day, a 15-yard tote on an off-guard run. Texas was a passing team in an era of the power run and quarterbacks Joe Clements and Vance Matthews combined to go 16/25 for 205 yards, attempting, 16 more throws than WVU’s Mickey Trimarki. However, the WVU defense held up, keeping the Longhorns to just one score and, after a missed extra point, pulled out an ugly 7-6 win over one of the perennial powerhouses of the 1950s on the road.

The series would end there until WVU joined the Big 12 Conference ahead of the 2012 season. The first game in the renewed series would take place in Austin between two very talented teams. Each team entered with a 4-0 record and WVU was coming off its impressive Orange Bowl win over Clemson the prior year. Texas was led by sophomore quarterback David Ash who had seized the starting job from fellow newcomer Case McCoy the prior year and helped force the transfer of former starter Garrett Gilbert. The Mountaineers marched in ranked eighth in the nation while their hosts stood at eleventh. Geno Smith led a high powered offense and threw for 268 yards and four scores on the night, three of which went to Stedman Bailey. However, the key to the WVU offense that night was sophomore running back Andrew Buie. Buie had the best game of his career, running for 207 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries while also catching three passes for 66 yards. Texas running back Joe Bergeron ran for four scores himself while Ash matched Smith with 269 yards of his own butt was not enough as the Mountaineers held on in the fourth quarter for a 48-45 shootout win in Austin.

The following year, the Mountaineers hosted the Longhorns for the first time, but this time it was with on of the weaker teams in recent memory. Gone was Smith, replaced by Paul Millard, the injured Ford Childress, and Clint Trickett who engineered an upset in his first start but was himself injured. Dana Holgerson then turned back to Millard while Mack Brown was forced to put Case McCoy under center due to a season-ending injury to Ash. It was WVU vs. Texas so what else would happen in this game but a shootout. Millard threw for 259 yards and a touchdown but also tossed two costly interceptions. His counterpart in burnt orange went for 283 and three scores while getting picked off once. Grad transfer running back Charles Sims once again keyed the offense, rolling for 93 yards and three touchdowns on the ground while hauling in five passes for 42 yards. The game was tight throughout and Anthony Fera’s 24-yard field goal with 13 seconds in the fourth forced overtime. The Longhorns drove down quickly and McCoy found a receiver for his third score of the game and forced a do or die situation for WVU. The offense reached down inside the five yard line but Millard was picked off in the end zone, sealing a 47-40 win for Texas.

The 2014 game between WVU and Texas was, to say in a word, ugly. Tyrone Swoopes was the new starter for the Longhorns while Trickett was now under center full-time for the Mountaineers. He was more impressive than Swoopes, throwing for 248 yards but was unable to get into the end zone. Running back Dreamius Smith was impressive, putting up 100 yards and a touchdown on just 10 carries. However, Jonathan Gray of Texas equaled those numbers but put up three scores. Kevin White had one of the most impressive receiving performances in school history with 16 catches for 132 yards on the day. However, those stat lines were the only positives to come out of the game as Texas rolled to a 33-16 home win, their first victory against the Mountaineers in Austin.

A year later, the Mountaineers finally got back in the win column in Skyler Howard’s first game against Texas. He was extremely efficient, going 10/12 for 122 yards and two touchdowns while scoring again on the ground. Wendell Smallwood put up big numbers in the run game as well, going for 165 yards to outpace Texas’ D’Onta Foreman’s 147. WVU held the Longhorns scoreless in the second quarter while scoring 14 points of their own to take control of the game, shutting down dual-threat QB Jerrod Heard and forcing three turnovers on the day. One of those was a tone-setting first quarter, 42-yard fumble return by linebacker Jared Barber to get WVU on the board for the first time. Big plays from Jovon Durante and Daniel Shorts helped the pass game get going and WVU got back on track in the series with an easy 38-20 win.

In 2016, things got even uglier than 2014, despite WVU coming in ranked sixteenth in the country. The two teams combined for seven turnovers including three picks thrown by Skyler Howard on the day. However, it was freshman running back Kennedy McCoy stepping up huge to run for 73 yards and two touchdowns while Ka’Raun White emerged with six catches for 82 yards and the only scoring catch of the day for WVU. Shane Buechele had a big day for the hosts, throwing for 318 yards and a score while Foreman had another great performance with 167 yards on the ground. However, the WVU defense held on, capping off the game with three straight stops. The Mountaineers stayed on track, moving to 8-1 with their 24-20 win in Austin.

The 2017 Texas game is definitely one to forget for the Mountaineer faithful. It will always be best remembered for Will Grier suffering a broken finger on a rushing attempt early in the game and being ruled out for the remainder of the season. Backup Chris Chugunov entered and performed admirably with 189 yards and a touchdown but the Grier injury sucked the wind out of the stadium and took the dynamic ability out of the offense. Sam Ehlinger was outstanding threw the air and on the ground with 204 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Daniel Young ran for a robust 85 yards on just 12 carries, powering the Longhorns offense to a strong performance. WVU could not overcome the loss of their quarterback, dropping the game 28-14 as the season started to go sideways.

Ladies and gentlemen, here it is. The one you’ve all been waiting for: The Horns Down Game. Last year, WVU trekked into Austin, Texas and completed one of the most memorable wins in recent school history. Grier and Ehlinger dueled all day long with the Florida transfer putting up 346 yards and three touchdowns while the Longhorn signal caller tallied 354 yards and three scores of his own. However, it was the Mountaineer run game that kept the score close with Martell Pettaway and Kennedy McKoy combining for 215 yards and two touchdowns on just 25 carries while David Sills V pulled in two of Grier’s TD tosses. However, it was the third one that made the biggest impact. With time ticking down, Grier found Gary Jennings, who had mostly been held in check that day, deep downfield, throwing on the run to hit the senior receiver in the back of the end zone to cut the Texas lead to just 41-40. Rather than play for overtime, WVU went for two and the rest was history as Grier ran it in himself, crossing the goal line with the ball outstretched over his head. After a back-and-forth game, the Horns went down and WVU picked up a huge win.

The series between WVU and Texas has been back and forth through the last few years. All but one game has been a conference contest but WVU holds the series lead five to three. This series has always been unpredictable and fans should expect no less on this Saturday in Morgantown.

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