The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

November 10, 2013

WVU drops courageous but disappointing 47-40 OT decision to Texas

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia University’s season is teetering on the brink of disaster today following a courageous but disappointing 47-40 overtime loss to Texas on Saturday night before 58,570 fans at Milan Puskar Stadium.

The defeat left the Mountaineers with a 4-6 record, needing to sweep their final two games to finish at .500 and bowl eligible. On the plus side of the ledger is that the two games are against Kansas and Iowa State, both winless in the Big 12.

WVU built an early 9-0 lead but saw starting quarterback Clint Trickett battered from the game early with an unspecified injury, completing just two of four passes and being sacked five times.

Paul Millard came off the bench to replace him and after a slow start came on to complete 16 of 32 passes for 256 yards and a touchdown. He threw two interceptions, the final one coming on the game’s last play, a desperation fourth-down attempt in overtime.

“He did well. For a guy who had been benched and hadn’t taken a bunch of reps, he did well,” said coach Dana Holgorsen. “We didn’t make enough throws. We didn’t make enough catches.”

Texas had scored on its overtime possession when Case McCoy, who had managed to find himself time after time facing third down in the second half, threw a 2-yard scoring pass to fullback Alex De La Torre on third-and-1 in overtime.

The game was the fourth in a row in which WVU blew a second half lead, although last week against TCU the Mountaineers recovered to win in overtime.

The two hours before the game held almost as much intrigue as the game itself.

First it was Texas’ offensive and defensive linemen coming out for their early warmups, and they really needed to warm up, considering they did so shirtless, a sign that the cool West Virginia evening would not intimidate them.

Not to be undone, WVU warmed up wearing gold helmets, then came out for the game wearing white helmets.

It probably had nothing to do with the switch in helmets, but the game quickly fell WVU’s way.

Forced to punt on its first possession, WVU caught a break when the ball hopped wildly over the returner’s head and rolled to the Texas 7, setting up the first score of the game, a rather interesting one, at that.

The WVU defense stopped the Longhorns cold, then on a punt Jewone Snow was given a free pass into the backfield, where he blocked the kick through the back of the end zone for a safety and a 2-0 lead.

The last time any Mountaineer had blocked a punt for a safety was at the turn of the century, Phil Braxton pulling off such a feat against Temple.

WVU took advantage of the ensuing kickoff, Mario Alford returning it to the Texas 43, leading to a 3-yard TD plunge by Charles Sims to make it 9-0.

But trouble lay ahead for WVU and Trickett, as Texas unleashed a fierce pass rush that nearly tore the quarterback limb from limb.

“We protected at about a 50 percent rate, which is disgusting,” Holgorsen said.

Before the quarter was out, Trickett was sacked four times in five plays, the last time leaving him lying in pain on the ground, needing medical aid and the rest of the night off.

Trickett not only was injured on the play, but fumbled and Texas’ Jack Jeffcoat recovered, leading to a 37-yard field goal by Penn State transfer Anthony Fera to make it 9-3.

With Trickett out of the game, Paul Millard stepped forth, only to go three-and-out on his first possession and then to be stripped of the ball the next time, Cedric Reed coming up with it.

That led to Malcolm Brown bursting over from the 2 and a 10-9 lead.

WVU, at this moment, found itself possessing minus-17 rushing yards and averaging 20.9 inches per play, half the second quarter gone.

But things were about to change as the Mountaineers figured something out and Millard led them on a 51-yard drive in five plays, two key passes to Kevin White, with Sims scoring his second touchdown on a sweep around the right side from 6 yards out to make it 16-10 with 7:24 left in the half.

WVU would have liked to have some carryover from that, but the Mountaineers didn’t, being punted back to their 14 and then having Millard crushed one more time by Cedric Reed, who got the sack, caused the fumble and recovered it at the WVU 7.

The defense remained tough, though, and held Texas to a field goal, preserving the lead at 16-13.

WVU made the most of its final possession of the half, ending with a 30-yard field goal from Josh Lambert, his eighth straight successful field goal, and the Mountaineers took a 19-13 lead into the locker room despite possessing only 134 total yards and having been sacked six times.

WVU dodged another bullet coming out of the locker room, surviving a Texas interception of Millard that put the ball at the WVU 7. The defense stiffened and held for a field goal, maintaining at 19-16 lead.

Millard arched his back and came right back, leading WVU on a 91-yard drive that ended with Sims’ third TD and a 26-16 lead, which seemed relatively safe.

But it was the middle of the third quarter, and that’s when the roof caves in on the Mountaineers every week, and this was no different as Case McCoy, who had been atrocious to this point, hit a wide-open Mike Davis for a 49-yard TD to bring Texas back to within a field goal at 26-23.

And then the Mountaineers fell behind as Davis made another great catch to get them into position, capping it with Joe Bergeron scoring from 8 yards out to give the Longhorns a 30-26 advantage.

The action was just starting, however, as WVU regained the lead when Dreamius Smith ran 8 yards for a TD, only to have McCoy complete a 10-yard fade route to Jackson Shipley for a score to regain at 37-33 lead.

It was a shortlived lead, Millard hitting Mario Alford with a slant and having him outrun cornerback Duke Thomas all the way to end zone for a 72-yard touchdown.

That seemed to cinch the game but Texas still had life, again taking advantage of a dismal 30-yard punt by Nick O’Toole that put the Longhorns in position to drive for a tying field goal of 24 yards with 13 seconds left, forcing WVU into overtime for a second straight week.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • WVU #9 Trickett -ts.jpg A healthy Trickett gives WVU chance to win

    You might recall that Pat White’s career as West Virginia quarterback began when Adam Bednarik was injured in the Louisville game of White’s freshman year, opening the door for him to come on and lead one of the greatest comebacks in school history.

    August 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Lingering injury keeps Barber out as season begins

    He was off on the sidelines on the first day of practice, where he’ll be for quite a while now, wearing the red jersey that signifies a player is unable to practice due to injury.
    It wasn’t that he was standing around watching the proceedings. That’s not how it is with Jared Barber.
    No, he’d jog up the sideline, then back.

    August 2, 2014

  • WVU #6 SHORTS -TS.jpg WVU opens practice with different feel: VIDEOS AND PHOTOS

    West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen was happy with his team’s first practice of the 2014 season.
    Of course, he would note, “Everybody in the country has a good first day.”
    But somehow, this was different.
    Very different.

    August 1, 2014 9 Photos

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Social media adds another thing to watch for coaches

    As someone who has gotten himself in enough hot water with a misplaced Tweet, when West Virginia University quarterback Clint Trickett hit the send button on July 17 sending out to the cyberworld what should have remained there with him on the couch on which he was sitting, I could feel his pain.

    August 1, 2014

  • WVU basketball non-conference schedule released

    After playing challenging schedules along with the tough Big 12 road, West Virginia University has backed off some this season on its non-conference schedule that was released Thursday.
    West Virginia is coming off a 17-16 season in which it failed to reach the NCAA Tournament and lost to Georgetown in the first round of the NIT.

    August 1, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Must WVU defense carry offense in ’14?

    The other day the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story under the following headline:
    “In a year of change, must the Steelers’ offense carry the defense this year?”
    Reading that turned on a light.

    July 31, 2014

  • WVU takes first step today

    Perhaps the most used — and least factual — cliché in sports is as follows:
    “There’s no tomorrow.”
    Around these parts, however, tomorrow is what they are clinging to, while putting a new twist on the cliché, turning it to, “There’s no yesterday.”

    July 31, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: O’Toole joins long list of eccentric WVU kickers, punters

    The star of the Big 12’s annual football media day wasn’t a star at all.
    He intrigued the media far more than Bob Stoops, the coach of preseason favorite Oklahoma, and more than Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, the preseason player of the year.

    July 25, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads