No. 11 Texas arrived in Morgantown a beat up team, especially in the secondary. The Longhorns played Saturday without starting corner Jalen Green, starting safety Caden Sterns and top-reserve safeties Josh Thompson and DeMarvion Overshown, with starting nickel back BJ Foster returning from an injury of his own.
And, considering all those circumstances, Saturday went nearly perfect for the Longhorns as they intercepted West Virginia quarterback Austin Kendall four times, turning three into touchdowns, to secure a 42-31 win.
The first pick came from linebacker Ayodele Adeoye, who stepped in front of a Kendall pass with the Longhorns trailing 7-0 in the first quarter. His 13-yard return set Texas up at the WVU 27, and Sam Ehlinger cashed in on a 22-yard touchdown toss to Malcolm Epps.
West Virginia (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) then nudged ahead with a 5-play, 60-yard touchdown drive, keyed by a 44-yard completion from Kendall to TJ Simmons and capped by a 1-yard Kendall keeper. Texas then pulled even with a 13-yard touchdown toss to John Burt and then, with 3:28 left in the first half, took the lead for good on a 13-yard Ehlinger keeper.
With the score still 21-14 late in the third quarter, West Virginia’s defense got in on the action when Keith Washington, Jr. picked an Ehlinger pass and raced it 34 yards to the Texas 29-yard line which, when combined with a 15-yard personal foul on Texas, gave WVU the ball at the 14. Unlike Texas, though, the Mountaineers did not turn a pick into six, this time settling for a 29-yard Evan Staley field goal with 1:59 left in the third quarter.
That’s when the Texas secondary took over, nabbing interceptions on consecutive drives to break the game open.
The first was by Foster, who bumped a WVU receiver out of the way and snared the ball off a deflection, giving Texas the ball at the WVU 18. Devin Duvernay, who led the ‘Horns with six grabs for 86 yards, pushed the lead to 28-17 with a 13-yard touchdown run on a handoff out of the backfield.
Now in true desperation territory, Kendall tossed his fourth pick of the day and his second to cornerback D'Shawn Jamison, who returned the ball to the WVU 33.
Texas (4-1, 2-0 Big 12) put the game away for good with this made-to-go-viral play call.
Kendall added two cosmetic scores with the game in hand, finishing the day 31-of-46 for 367 yards with three touchdowns and four crucial interceptions.
With Keontay Ingram battling a stinger, Roschon Johnson carried the Texas running game, rushing a game-high 21 times for 121 yards. Ehlinger had a pedestrian game by his standards, hitting 18-of-33 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns with one interception while adding nine carries for 45 yards and two touchdowns, the last coming with 3:03 to play to ice the game for good.