Keke Coutee

Associated Press

West Virginia closes with 29 unanswered points to rally past No. 24 Texas Tech

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One week ago, West Virginia was ranked No. 23 in the AP poll and played every bit like you’d expect the No. 23 team in the country to play in challenging but ultimately falling in a loss to No. 8 TCU. However, voters dropped the Mountaineers out of the rankings and inserted Texas Tech at No. 24, rewarding them for a win at Kansas — something everyone in the Big 12 save Charlie Strong does.

Voters will rectify that tomorrow.

West Virginia rallied from an 18-point second half deficit with 29 unanswered points to knock off the 24th-ranked Red Raiders, 46-35. The win lifted Dana Holgorsen to a 4-1 lead over his former player and colleague Kliff Kingsbury.

Texas Tech’s offense came out firing, as West Virginia did not force a punt until the Red Raiders’ seventh possession and only one boot in their first nine touches. Nic Shimonek fired four touchdown passes, two bombs to freshman T.J. Vasher and a pair of short tosses to Dylan Cantrell and Keke Coutee, but the Red Raiders built their early lead on the ground. Texas Tech harassed West Virginia quarterback Will Grier for much of the game and held Justin Crawford in check for the first two-and-a-half quarters.

Tre King 30-yard touchdown run gave the Red Raiders a 35-17 lead with 9:11 to play in the third quarter. Texas Tech (4-2, 1-2 Big 12) again moved the ball on their next possession, but Michael Barden missed a 37-yard field goal to close the drive — his third miss of the day. That would prove crucial.

Once West Virginia (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) found a way to protect Grier, Texas Tech could not stop the Mountaineers. More specifically, Texas Tech could not stop Grier.

An 8-yard strike to David Sills pulled West Virginia within 35-24 at the 5:07 mark of the third quarter, and a 32-yard rainbow to Ka'Raun White (plus a 2-point strike to Sills) pulled WVU within 35-32. Texas Tech appeared to seize back momentum after Grier was stuffed on a 4th-and-1 sneak, but an examination of the spot gave West Virginia the first down by the nose of the ball. Grier put West Virginia on top for good on a 17-yard strike to White on the next play.

Grier’s fifth touchdown pass of the day to Sills (his third scoring snag) gave West Virginia an insurance score with 3:23 to play, and Kyzir White’s interception of Shimonek sealed it with 1:49 left on the clock.

Grier closed the day hitting 32-of-41 passes for 352 yards with five touchdowns and one interception, while Shimonek was 24-of-39 for 323 yards and four touchdowns against one pick. 

Texas Tech leading West Virginia through one half

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Through one half in Morgantown, Texas Tech is threatening to run West Virginia off its own field. The Red Raiders have not punted and lead 28-17 at the half.

Texas Tech forced two West Virginia three-and-outs and turned them into quick touchdowns. The first came after the first drive of the game, when Nic Shimonek hit T.J. Vasher for a 60-yard snatch-and-dash on the Red Raiders’ second snap.

West Virginia raced down the field in three plays, equaling the score on a 31-yard strike from Will Grier to David Sills. Texas Tech returned volley, this time moseying down the field in 10 plays, the last of which a 6-yard strike from Shimonek to Dylan Cantrell.

The Red Raiders’ defense held serve on the next possession by forcing a 43-yard Mike Molina field goal and, after a missed field goal of their own, forced a second three-and-out, which turned into Shimonek’s third touchdown toss of the first half, a 6-yarder to Keke Coutee.

West Virginia answered with a 5-yard Justin Crawford run and appeared in position to take its first lead when Texas Tech’s punt team took the field for the first time of the day. But punter Dominic Panazzolo ran 13 yards around the left side on 4th-and-1 to keep the drive alive, and Shimonek hit Vasher on a 53-yard bomb one play later. 

The Mountaineers momentarily posted their first true stop of the half on Texas Tech’s final possession of the half when Shimonek was intercepted in the end zone, but the pick was wiped out after a roughing the passer penalty. Coutee, however, dropped a touchdown pass on third-and-goal, and Michael Barden missed his second field goal of the half, doinking a 23-yarder off the left upright.

Shimonek finished the half hitting 17-of-24 passes for 252 yards and four touchdowns. A host of Red Raiders have pieced together 18 carries for 86 yards.

Grier has completed 18-of-22 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown, but the Mountaineers’ running backs have managed 13 yards in seven carries.

Texas Tech will receive to open the second half.

Baker Mayfield, Kansas pass rusher headline preseason All-Big 12 team

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The Big 12 on Wednesday unveiled its 2017 preseason all-conference teams, led, of course, by Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. The 2016 Heisman Trophy finalist was named the league’s preseason Offensive Player of the Year and preseason All-Big 12 quarterback. Kansas’s Dorance ArmstrongJr., the conference’s leading returning sack man, was named the league’s preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

Oklahoma, Texas and TCU led the conference with five selections, followed by Kansas State and Oklahoma State with four. Texas Tech and Iowa State claimed two selections, followed by West Virginia and Baylor’s one.

Yes, that adds up to 29 players.

Offensive Player of the Year: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Defensive Player of the Year: Dorance Armstrong Jr., Kansas
Newcomer of the Year: Will Grier, West Virginia

Offense
QB: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
RB: Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
RB: Justin Crawford, West Virginia
FB: Winston Dimel, Kansas State
WR: Keke Coutee, Texas Tech
WR: Allen Lazard, Iowa State
WR: James Washington, Oklahoma State
TE: Mark Andrews, Oklahoma
OL: Orlando Brown, Oklahoma
OL: Zach Crabtree, Oklahoma State
OL: Dalton Risner, Kansas State
OL: Austin Schlotmann, TCU
OL: Connor Williams, Texas
K: Clayton Hatfield, Texas Tech
KR/PR: KaVontae Turpin, TCU

Defense
DL: Dorance Armstrong, Jr., Kansas
DL: Poona Ford, Texas
DL: Malcolm Roach, Texas
DL: K.J. Smith, Baylor
DL: Reggie Walker, Kansas State
LB: Travin Howard, TCU
LB: Malik Jefferson, Texas
LB: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma
DB: Kamari Cotton-Moya, Iowa State
DB: Tre Flowers, Oklahoma State
DB: Nick Orr, TCU
DB: D.J. Reed, Kansas State
DB: Jordan Thomas, Oklahoma
P: Michael Dickson, Texas