LUBBOCK, Texas–Keith Washington was the game changer for No. 12 West Virginia as the Mountaineers fended off No. 25 Texas Tech 42-34 on Saturday afternoon at Jones AT&T Stadium,
After the Red Raiders scored 17 unanswered points and were moving downfield again, Washington intercepted backup quarterback Jett Duffey’s pass and returned it 51 yards for a touchdown to give WVU (4-0, 2-0) a 42-27 edge with 2:58 left in the fourth quarter.
With 38 seconds remaining, Texas Tech (3-2, 1-1) scored to pull within a touchdown but the Red Raiders kicked the onside kick out-of-bounds.
The Mountaineers had 489 total yards of offense. Will Grier completed 27-of-41 passes for 370 yards and three touchdowns.
Marcus Simms had a career-high 138-yard game for WVU. He scored one touchdown.
“He’s shown flashes of it in the past, and he’s been inconsistent practice-wise,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “In spring he was inconsistent. Camp he was really consistent. He’s just practiced well all camp, and this is three weeks in a row that he’s played better. The better he plays, the more he’s going to get targeted. He’s arguably our top wide out right now. I think we’ve got a couple of pretty good ones.”
Kennedy McKoy picked up 79 yards and scored one touchdown.
The Mountaineers jumped out to 35-10 lead at the end of the half. However, the offense sputtered, fueling a Texas Tech comeback attempt.
“I think there’s just things we’ve got to clean up execution-wise,” Grier said. “We’ve got to — there’s things that we’ve got to do a better job of making calls, and I’ve got to do a good job of getting the ball out of my hands. They hit a couple blitzes, and that’s going to happen sometimes, but like I said, it comes down to us playing a complete game. That could have happened at any point. It comes down to us making the right call, getting a hat for a hat and making tough catches.”
Red Raiders’ starter Alan Bowman left in the second quarter after suffering an injury on a hit from blitzers Ezekiel Rose and Washington. Duffey came in and completed 16-of-27 passes for 172 yards. He threw two interceptions.
WVU scored on five of its eight first-half offensive possessions. The Mountaineers had 382 yards of offense in the first half.
On its opening drive, Grier and the offense drove 75 yards in seven plays and jumped out to a 7-0 lead when Grier connected with Jennings for a 13-yard touchdown.
On Texas Tech’s next drive, sophomore safety Kenny Robinson intercepted Bowman’s pass. WVU took advantage of the miscue and added to its lead on Leddie Brown’s one-yard touchdown run.
The Mountaineers’ defense had three interceptions, two of which came in the first half from Robinson.
Gary Jennings Jr. Caught seven passes for 70 yards and two touchdowns. David Sills V. was limited to just four catches for 48 yards.
Both Jennings and Sills dropped crucial passes.
WVU returns home to Milan Puskar Stadium to take on Kansas next Saturday. Kickoff is slated for noon (ET).
Cover Photo Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports