MORGANTOWN — Call it “The Beating on the Brazos.”
West Virginia staggered to the halfway point in the 2021 season barely on life support at 2-4 having been bullied, battered and, to be completely honest, embarrassed by the Baylor Bears who had nothing but bad news for the Mountaineers in the form of a 45-20 shellacking.
Last week, after suffering a second consecutive last second loss via a field goal to Texas Tech, beleaguered coach Neal Brown apologized to the WVU fans for playing an “inexcusable” first half.
This week he owed the fans an apology for not showing up at all.
He could have sworn it was the varsity that boarded the airplane in Clarksburg to fly to Waco.
It sure as hell wasn’t the varsity that showed up at the stadium to play what was a make-or-break game for the season.
Let’s just say there isn’t enough glue in West Virginia to put the Mountaineers’ season back together again.
“They’re better than us right now,” Neal Brown said on the radio right after the game. “We’re not very good. That’s kind of what it was. We didn’t coach very good. We didn’t play very good. We’ve yet to stop them from throwing the football and we haven’t blocked them yet.”
If Brown thought his start against Tech was “inexcusable,” what could have been running through his mind when on the game’s second play from scrimmage quarterback Gerry Bohanon conspired with wide receiver TyQuan Thornton on a 75-yard touchdown pass.
Truth be known, had the end zone been a mile and a half further away he’d have made it there, too.
“We haven’t covered Thornton yet,” Brown said, a half an hour after the game. “He may still be out there running open.”
So, WVU got the ball for the first time down 7-0, went on offense ... and had to take a time out before getting to the line of scrimmage.
“To be honest with you, I think it was poor officiating, but I’m not going to get into with you,” Brown said to the media, inferring it was a clock issue.
The die was cast right there, although WVU had answered with a reflex touchdown made out of a 53-yard pass from Jarret Doege to Sam James followed by a 12-yard scoring strike to Sean Ryan to tie it.
That would be probably the last pass thrown by Doege before he was bruised from head to toe under a relentless Baylor pass rush that would result in six sacks for negative 46 yards.
The offensive line was overpowered by Baylor, be it on pass protection or the running game, which netted 90 yards on 38 carries, which is just 2.4 yards per attempt. Put in perspective, it means that every four rushes netted a foot or so less than a first down.
The next time Baylor had the ball, they let WVU know what kind of day it would be, Bohanon threw to Thornton for 44 more yards, pushing him past 100 receiving yards with just five minutes into the game.
Not remaining in the game, at the start of the game. He would finish with 8 catches for 187 yards and two TDs.
And the worst was yet to come.
Doege, now under siege, had a tipped ball intercepted by Jalen Pitre at the Mountaineers’ 48, giving Baylor a short field, like they needed it.
Two passes brought Baylor into the shadow of the goal post and then Bohanon used his legs to get seven more points from a yard out. It was obvious right then that WVU was outclassed in this one.
Doege was what Doege is. He wasn’t to blame for the loss, but he isn’t the kind of performer who can put a team on his back and carry them to victory.
He completed 20 of 31 for 237 yards with a touchdown and the interception.
He spent more time running for his life than looking for receivers. This was, as Neal Brown indicated, a team defeat, from the coaching rooms to the position rooms, from the practice field.
“We didn’t block them, in particular our right side,” Brown said. “It didn’t matter, run or pass. If you are going to lose one-on-one battles over and over again it’s going to be hard to do anything.”
Down 21-7 at the end of the first period and there weren’t very many people alive in the stadium or watching across the nation of FS1 who believed WVU had what it took to stem the tide that now was rolling in.
Before they broke for the half, Bohanon and Thornton conspired on yet another TD, which offset a Casey Legg field goal, so it was 28-10 at intermission.
But just getting to halftime wasn’t without peril, for WVU forced a Baylor punt, which could have come with more than a minute to play had he opted to use his last two time outs, but he passed on that, showing no confidence in his offense.
By now it was apparent that the second half was going to be more of the same and it wound up like a Tuesday afternoon scrimmage of reserves, before the final score was settled upon.
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