TJ Simmons

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No. 11 Texas uses four INTs to push past West Virginia

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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.

No. 11 Texas locked in a tussle with West Virginia

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After a back-and-forth first half, No. 11 Texas holds a 21-14 over West Virginia at the break in Morgantown.

West Virginia accepted the ball to open the game and, with the help of two 15-yard penalties on the visitors, rolled 76 yards in four plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 44-yard toss from Austin Kendall to Sam James.

Texas moved into WVU territory on its first chance, but Cameron Dicker‘s 42-yard field goal was no good. However, the Longhorns did not suffer for it as Ayodele Adeoye intercepted Kendall on his first pass after the touchdown, and Sam Ehlinger hit Malcolm Epps for a 22-yard equalizer.

After an exchange of four punts, West Virginia regained the lead on a 1-yard Kendall keeper, a play set up by a 44-yard pitch-and-catch to TJ Simmons.

Texas again answered, moving 69 yards in 11 plays to tie the game at 14-14 on a 13-yard strike from Ehlinger to John Burt. When Evan Staley kicked wide of the same goal post Dicker missed in the first period, Texas took its first lead on a 13-yard Ehlinger keeper at the 3:28 mark of the second quarter.

Taking over with more than 200 seconds and two timeouts in his arsenal, Neal Brown opted to churn clock on his final possession of the half, forcing only a 46-yard Staley field goal, which again was wide right.

Ehlinger completed the half 13-of-21 for 176 yards while rushing five times for 26 yards. Keaontay Ingram left the game with an apparent shoulder injury in the first quarter, so converted quarterback Roschon Johnson led Texas with 53 yards on nine carries.

Kendall completed 15-of-18 passes for 163 yards with a score and a pick, while Kennedy McKoy added 32 yards on four carries.

Texas will receive to open the second half.

No. 6 Oklahoma wins shootout over No. 13 WVU, setting up a Red River Rematch

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In a typical Big 12 shootout that saw more than 110 points and 1,300 yards of total offense, No. 6 Oklahoma received and made its own breaks in outlasting No. 13 West Virginia, 59-56 in Morgantown.

While the Sooners’ offense was as efficient and explosive as always in putting up 668 yards on 10.3 yards a play, it was the plays made when Kyler Murray and company were on the sideline that tilted the game in Oklahoma’s favor. The beleaguered Oklahoma defense forced two Will Grier fumbles and returned both for touchdowns and benefitted from two West Virginia touchdowns (or almost certain touchdowns) getting wiped off the board due to penalties. It was the type of game where an OU defensive back was blocked into and beyond the opposing bench — and it turned into the crucial play of the game in Oklahoma’s favor.

The win pushes Oklahoma (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) into a rematch with No. 14 Texas, giving the Sooners a chance to avenge their only loss of the season, win their fourth straight Big 12 title and 12th Big 12 crown overall while keeping hope alive of a third College Football Playoff berth in Lincoln Riley‘s four years in the program.

Both teams opened the game with consecutive touchdown drives and West Virginia momentarily added a third until Grier’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Gary Jennings, Jr. was wiped off the board due the first game-changing WVU mistake — an offensive pass interference penalty on David Sills V. Rather than owning a 21-14 lead three minutes into the second quarter, West Virginia faced a 3rd-and-19. The Mountaineers picked up 13 yards on a Kennedy McKoy run, but, knowing only touchdowns would beat Oklahoma, WVU dialed up a 4th-and-6 pass, but Grier overshot his intended receiver, giving the OU defense the first stop of the game.

After its defense held serve, Oklahoma’s offense issued its first mistake of the game when Murray fumbled the ball on a 16-yard run to the WVU 22, keeping the score at 14-14.

Given a second chance to take its third lead of the first half, West Virginia again was stopped, posting the game’s first three-and-out and its first punt. Oklahoma needed only two plays to grab its first lead, hitting Marquise Brown for a 65-yard catch-and-run to the WVU 1, which set up a Trey Sermon plunge to put the Sooners up 21-14 with 7:12 left in the first half.

After two straight scoreless drives, West Virginia answered with a 75-yard touchdown drive, capped by the second Grier-to-Sills scoring strike of the night, evening the score at 21-21 with 4:14 left in the first half.

Oklahoma wasted no time in retaking the lead when Kennedy Brooks raced 68 yards for a touchdown, putting the Sooners back in front at 28-21. After the Murray fumble, Oklahoma’s next two possessions both found the end zone in just two plays. After its offense made a big play, the much-maligned defense came up with its biggest of the season when linebacker Caleb Kelly stripped Grier of the ball and returned it 10 yards for a touchdown, pushing the OU edge to 35-21.

West Virginia rebounded to go 81 yards in 13 plays, scoring on a 1-yard McKoy plunge with 18 seconds left in the half to pull within 35-28, then, after Kenny Robinson, Jr. intercepted Murray in the end zone to open the second half, Jennings tied it with a 57-yard touchdown pass.

Another red zone mistake took points off the board for Oklahoma when tight end Carson Meier false started on a 4th-and-1 at the WVU 15, forcing a 37-yard Austin Seibert field goal, which was the closest thing to an Oklahoma punt to that point in the game.

Given a chance to take its third lead — and first since the opening frame — West Virginia capitalized. Grier found Jennings for a 52-yard gain on 3rd-and-18, taking the ball from his own 45 to the OU 2, setting up a Grier sneak to put the Mountaineers up 42-38 with 1:52 to play in the third quarter.

Oklahoma surged back in front when, one play after hitting him for a 30-yard gain on a 3rd-and-10, Murray hit Brown for a 45-yard catch-and-run score with 35 seconds left in the frame — but the scoring wasn’t done for the quarter. Facing another third-and-long, Grier again found a streaking Jennings, this time for a 75-yard score to put WVU up 49-45 with nine seconds left in the third quarter.

Again, Oklahoma immediately answered. The Sooners avoided another red zone disaster when Murray hit a wide open Grant Calcaterra for a 1-yard touchdown toss on fourth-and-goal, putting OU back in front and the game over the century mark, 52-49 with 11:19 to play.

West Virginia (8-3, 6-3 Big 12) was seemingly in place to re-take the lead when McKoy busted through the Oklahoma secondary to set up a first-and-goal, but WVU wide receiver TJ Simmons was flagged for a personal foul for blocking OU cornerback Tre Brown out of bounds, taking the ball from the OU 5 back to the WVU 43. A pass interference penalty pushed the ball into Oklahoma territory, but Grier was stripped for the second time of the night, which turned into the second Sooner defensive touchdown of the night when Curtis Bolton picked up the pigskin and raced it 52 yards to the house.

Unlike after his first fumble-six, Grier did not lead WVU to an immediate touchdown. Instead, three straight incomplete passes forced Billy Kenney‘s second punt, giving Oklahoma the ball with a 10-point lead. But the Sooners could not shut the door, instead punting for the first time of the game. This time, WVU went 80 yards in nine plays, pulling back within 59-56 on Martell Pettway‘s 17-yard run with 4:20 left in the game.

Rather than bank on his defense getting a stop, Dana Holgorsen elected to try and onside kick — which Oklahoma recovered. West Virginia’s defense answered the bell by pushing the Sooners into a 4th-and-5 situation, but, with the ball at the opponent’s 45, Riley elected keep his offense on the field, a choice Murray validated with an 8-yard completion to CeeDee Lamb. Murray salted the game away with a 17-yard run to the WVU 14 with under two minutes away, allowing the Sooners to kneel the ball and the quarterback to improve his Heisman resume with another sparkling night — throwing for 364 yards with three touchdowns and one interception on 20-of-27 passing plus 114 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.

In his final home game, Grier posted a career high 539 passing yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions, but his two fumbles proved the difference in the game.

The win is Oklahoma’s 17th straight victory in the month of November and 19th consecutive win in true road games. It was also the fourth consecutive game and fifth in seven outings the Sooners have surrendered at least 40 points. That’s a run that began with a 48-45 loss to Texas on Oct. 6, a loss the Sooners will get a chance to avenge next Saturday at AT&T Stadium.