The Mountaineers faced off against the Longhorns on picture perfect Saturday in Austin, Texas. Warm, blue skies made a beautiful backdrop for the top 25 match up. It is almost as if the favorable weather was a definite foreshadowing of the game to come; this was to be one that Mountaineer fans will remember for a lifetime.
The first half was marred with Mountaineer mistakes: twelve penalties for an atrocious 95 yards and three dropped passes. Yodny Cajuste was ejected in the first quarter for what the officials described as a punch. This seemed to be a questionable call. Kelby Wickline, son of the offensive line coach, Joe Wickline, was forced to fill the void and played admirably in Cajuste’s absence. The offense racked up 348 yards, out-gaining their opponent by 82 yards. Sam Ehlinger, the Longhorn’s quarterback, found ways time and again to keep his team on the field. The defense put themselves in position, play after play, but didn’t execute well enough to force the Longhorns off the field. Despite the miscues, the Mountaineers only found themselves down 28-27 at halftime.
The third quarter was slow as Texas scored the only points on a field goal.
The fourth quarter was just the opposite: filled with excitement all the way through the very last second. Texas scored a late fourth quarter touchdown on a deep pass to Devin Duvernay, taking a seven point lead. The Longhorns gave the ball back to WVU with 2:34 left on the clock. This created the perfect set up for WVU to possibly pull off an incredible finish.
Will Grier now had the opportunity to lead his team down the field to tie the game. Amazingly, Grier executed a storybook drive, that was capped off with a 33 yard touchdown pass to Gary Jennings. There were only left 16 seconds on the clock. The receiver had struggled throughout the game but stepped up when his team needed him most. In a turn of events, Coach Holgorsen decided to go for two and try to win the game. Offensive Coordinator, Jake Spavital, drew up a slant pass to David Sills, but Grier faced immediate pressure. The Senior Quarterback made a career defining play: he scrambled forward, beat the Texas defense to the corner pylon and converted the two point conversion.
With the game on the line, in an opponents stadium, beneath the eyes of 100,000 people, Grier rose to the occasion. With only 16 seconds left, the Mountaineer defense was able to keep the Longhorns in check, clinching the game.
Sam Ehlinger came through for the Longhorns play after play. Twice, he made miraculous last second throws for long gains when facing heavy pressure. His ability to extend plays with his legs thwarted Tony Gibson’s defense, time and again. He finished the day 25 of 36, for 354 yards and three touchdowns. Additionally, the quarterback ran for 65 yards and a touchdown. Texas star receiver, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, tormented the West Virginia secondary, as he caught nine passes for 143 yards and a touchdown.
Will Grier put together an excellent performance as he went 28 of 42 for 346 yards and three touchdowns. On the ground, the Mountaineers were led by Martell Pettaway, who rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns. Through the air, David Sills led the way with six catches for 97 yards and two touchdowns.
The Mountaineers will face off next against TCU on Saturday, in Morgantown. The Horned Frogs are coming off a win against Kansas State. West Virginia will be looking to extend their winning streak, as they continue their quest towards the Big 12 Championship.
Photo Credit, Bethany Hocker, USA Today Sports.