Dreamius Smith

Texas starts fast, hangs on for upset of No. 23 West Virginia

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If you can call beating a team on the trail end of the Top 25 a signature win, then Charlie Strong wrote his name across the bottom of Texas’ 33-16 win over No. 23 West Virginia on Saturday afternoon.

The Longhorns built a 24-3 halftime lead after Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown led the way for 178 rushing yards, but Texas practically demanded the Mountaineers crawl back in the game after sticking its offense in neutral for most of the second half. Texas’ first seven drives of the second half went punt, punt, fumble, punt, turnover on downs, interception or punt, losing yards on two of those possessions and traveling 11 yards or less on five of them. And, voila, all of a sudden West Virginia took possession of the ball at its own 14 with more than five minutes remaining in the game.

But, as it had so many times throughout the day, the Texas defense stood tall when its offense needed it to, forcing a turnover on downs at the WVU 15 yard line. Gray rushed in from 15 yards out for his third touchdown of the day, putting the game away and providing the winning score with 3:06 to go.

Texas rushed the ball 39 times for 228 yards and Gray’s three scores, carrying the day for a spectacularly mediocre Tyrone Swoopes, who completed 11 of his 29 passes for 124 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Cedric Reed led the defensive effort for the Longhorns, recording three sacks, including one for a safety, and a forced fumble. Vance Bedford‘s unit allowed Clint Trickett to complete 35-of-48 passes, but for just 248 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. Kevin White caught 15 passes for 132 yards, but no other Mountaineer gained more than 50 yards through the air. Dreamius Smith led the way for West Virginia on the ground with 10 carries for an even 100 yards and a touchdown.

The win pushes Texas to 5-5 on the season and on the precipice of bowl eligibility with an extremely winnable visit to Oklahoma State next week. After that, Strong’s bunch closes the season with a chance for a statement win over TCU in Austin on Thanksgiving night.

West Virginia, meanwhile, falls from controlling its own destiny in the Big 12 just eight days ago to standing below Texas in the standings at 4-3 in league play. The 6-4 Mountaineers will take Saturday off before hosting Kansas State on Thursday, Nov. 20.

Last-second field goal keeps Playoff, Heisman hopes alive for No. 10 TCU

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No. 10 TCU fought back from a 13-point deficit, fell behind by 13, and then did it again as Jaden Oberkrom knocked in a 37-yard field goal as time expired to beat No. 20 West Virginia 31-30 in Morgantown.

The Mountaineers built a 13-0 first quarter lead after a 75-yard opening march and then two field goals, both of the shorter variety after West Virginia did not convert a third down of makable distance near the goal line. TCU pulled within 13-7 on a 47-yard catch-and-run from Trevone Boykin to Deante’ Gray with 1:44 to go in the first quarter, but that was it for first half scoring.

If TCU had lost this game, it would undoubtedly point to the second quarter, where the Frogs forced three turnovers inside West Virginia territory and turned none of them into points.

No matter, West Virginia wasn’t done giving the ball away. The Mountaineers coughed it up twice more in the second half. The first came on a premature shotgun snap that caught Clint Trickett by surprise, recovered by TCU’s Mike Tuaua at the WVU 33. Five straight runs, the last a two-yarder by Boykin, put TCU up with 9:27 to go in the third quarter.

West Virginia then went on a 14-0 run to reclaim its 13-point edge at 27-14 on a five-yard Dreamius Smith run, coming immediately after TCU had taken its first lead, and then one play after that as Terrell Chestnut ripped the ball from Josh Doctson‘s arms and raced 36 yards for a touchdown.

Facing at 3rd-and-9 at his own 35, Trickett threw his second interception of the day. Three plays later B.J. Catalon raced in from 23 yards to pull TCU within 27-21 as the third quarter came to a close.

Josh Lambert knocked in a 23-yard field goal, pushing the West Virginia lead to 30-21, but the Mountaineers’ offense completely collapsed from there. West Virginia did not gain a first down in the third quarter, actually moving backwards seven yards on its nine fourth-quarter snaps, giving TCU the opportunity it needed to mount the comeback.

Catalon scored from six-yards out with 7:33 to go, and had a great shot at his third touchdown of the day on a 4th-and-3 pass from Boykin, but West Virginia appeared to get away with a hold.

The Mountaineers immediately gave the ball back, and the Frogs moved 56 yards in seven plays to give Oberkrom a 37-yard field goal as time expired.

Since mutually joining the Big 12 in 2012, TCU has beaten West Virginia by one in double overtime and by one on a last-second field goal, while West Virginia won by three in overtime last season. The road team has won all three games.

Boykin kept his Heisman Trophy hopes alive only by winning this game, as he spent much of the afternoon looking like the 2013 version of himself. He completed only 12-of-30 passes for 166 yards with a touchdown and an interception while rushing nine times for 49 yards and a touchdown; take away the touchdown and he managed 4.1 yards per attempt on his 29 throws.

TCU mounted this comeback by shutting down All-America candidate Kevin White (three catches, 28 yards) with its own All-Conference candidate named Kevin White. The Frogs also moved to the run in the second half, pounding out 167 yards on 29 carries after halftime. Catalon did most of the work with 20 carries for 105 yards and two touchdowns, while Aaron Green added 11 rushes for 65 yards.

The combination of Smith, Andrew Buie and Wendell Smallwood produced 176 yards on 39 carries, but could not get the necessary space with which to work as Trickett achieved only 162 passing yards on 26 attempts.

The win keeps TCU’s Big 12 and national championship hopes alive, setting up an absolutely massive game with No. 11 Kansas State on Saturday in Fort Worth.

West Virginia, meanwhile, must take solace in being college football’s most-accomplished three-loss team (losses to Alabama and Oklahoma before today, plus wins over Baylor and at Oklahoma State). They’ll visit Texas next week.

Unable to cash in on turnovers, No. 10 TCU trails No. 20 West Virginia 13-7 at the half

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Under normal circumstances, turning the ball over three times – all in your own territory – in one quarter is an automatic death sentence against TCU. This, however, is not normal circumstances.

Playing its first game outside the state of Texas all season, No. 10 TCU trails No. 20 West Virginia and its swarming, aggressive defense 13-7 before a raucous Milan Puskar Stadium crowd on a rainy Morgantown day.

The Mountaineers built a 13-0 lead after marching 75 yards in 10 plays to open the game, capped by a 23-yard pass from Clint Trickett to Mario Alford. West Virginia then moved another 51 yards in 14 plays, but Dreamius Smith was stuffed on a 3rd-and-2 near the goal line, forcing a Josh Lambert 21-yard field goal. West Virginia then recovered an onside kick and turned it into a 44-yard Lambert field goal at the 3:52 mark of the first quarter.

TCU quelled thoughts of a blowout by responding with a six-play, 83-yard drive, punctuated by a 47-yard screen pass from Trevone Boykin to Deante’ Gray.

The Horned Frogs had plenty of chances to take the lead in the second quarter, but capitalized on none of them. The Frogs recovered a Rushel Shell fumble at the WVU 43, but lost three yards before punting. Chris Hackett intercepted Trickett and returned it to the West Virginia 21, but a chop block sabotaged the TCU possession. Later in the quarter Hackett forced a Wendell Smallwood fumble at the West Virginia 23,  but Boykin threw an interception two plays later.

Outside of the 47-yard touchdown, Boykin is 4-of-15 for 26 yards and an interception, and the TCU ground game has mounted only 56 yards on 13 carries. The Frogs have just five first downs and are 2-of-7 on third down.

West Virginia has managed 128 rushing yards and Trickett has thrown for 108 more.

TCU receives the ball to open the second half.

No. 22 West Virginia uses defense, running game to handle OK State, 34-10

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No. 22 West Virginia kept its Big 12 title hops alive with… defense and the running game? The Mountaineers beat Oklahoma State 34-10 Saturday afternoon in Stillwater.

Clint Trickett had a nice, low-pressure day at the office, completing 21-of-30 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, while Wendell Smallwood did the dirty work for the Mountaineers by grinding out 23 carries for 132 yards. Dreamius Smith added five rushes for 72 yards and 40-yard touchdown dash that served as the final nail in the coffin with 3:12 to go.

West Virginia cruised to a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter but didn’t score again the rest of the half as Oklahoma State fought back for a 14-10 score at the break.

That would be it for Oklahoma State, as the Cowboys ran only seven plays in the third quarter and gained 133 yards in a scoreless second half.

WVU limited Daxx Garman to 21-of-41 passing for 242 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Oklahoma State did pound out 194 rushing yards on 39 carries (Tyreek Hill led the way with 14 rushes for 78 yards) but never mounted anything substantial outside the second quarter.

Josh Lambert provided the only scoring in the third quarter with a 39-yard field goal, and then pushed West Virginia’s lead to 10 with a 43-yarder early in the fourth quarter. Dravon Henry broke it open for good with a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown with 4:44 remaining in the game, and Smith’s 40-yard run a minute and change later added the exclamation point.

What does it about West Virginia that Dana Holgorsen‘s Mountaineers can not only go on the road in Big 12 play and grab a 24-point victory (earning its first road win over a Big 12 club with a winning record since beating 6-5 Iowa State in November 2012), but do so while imposing its will on both sides of the ball?

It says West Virginia, now bowl eligible at 6-2, is a force to be recognized in a Big 12 title chase that includes nearly half the league. Considering Oklahoma only has two losses and with the Baylor win under its belt, West freakin’ Virginia heads into November not only controlling its own destiny for the Big 12 championship, but does so while getting No. 10 TCU (next week) and No. 11 Kansas State (Nov. 20) at home, with its only road trips to struggling Iowa State and Texas.

Yeah, Holgo will drink to that.

 

West Virgina looking for upset of Baylor, leads 24-20 at half

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Baylor scored three times in the first quarter, but the Bears only managed to score 13 points. This allowed West Virginia to hang around early on. Will the defending Big 12 champions end up regretting allowing that to happen? West Virginia leads Baylor in Morganton, 24-20 at the half.

West Virginia had three turnovers in the first half, yet the Mountaineers have been able to lock down on Baylor’s offense just enough to not allow that -3 turnover margin to doom them. West Virgina has knocked Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty off his game. Petty has two touchdown passes, but he has completed just nine of 20 pass attempts. Baylor’s offense put together just 157 yards of offense in the first half as well, a week after racking up 782 yards (and 61 points) against TCU.

Baylor took a 20-14 lead midway through the second quarter, but only after officials had to overturn a targeting foul. Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman was called for a targeting penalty on the play, which could have kept the score off the board. Coleman threw a good  block on West Virginia’s Terrell Chestnut. After a video review, mandated per the rules regarding targeting penalties, the Big 12 officials ruled the block to be clean and awarded the touchdown, scored by Antwan Goodley, to Baylor as a result.

West Virginia took over from that point though. Dreamius Smith wrapped up a five-play scoring drive with a nine-yard touchdown run to regain the lead for the Mountaineers. As the half came to a close, West Virginia’s lead was padded with a 54-yard field goal by Josh Lambert.

Baylor has been called for 10 penalties in the first half of what has been a chippy game at times. The half ended with Baylor getting called for a personal foul penalty that will carry over to the start of the second half as well. West Virginia has been called for five penalties and the two teams have combined for 147 yards of penalty yardage.

If anything was learned last week though, it is that Baylor is not likely to be tied down for very long. Last week Baylor overcame a 21-0point deficit in the fourth quarter. Down four to West Virginia is not likely to last very long, so West Virginia will have to keep pressing.