Head coach Dana Holgorsen and his 13th West Virginia Mountaineers (7-1, 5-1) got their biggest road win since 2012 (no. 11 Texas) after beating the no. 17 Texas Longhorns (6-3, 4-2) Saturday night 42-41. WVU had to overcome a lot of adversity throughout the game and found a way to win at the end of the game.
“I’m proud of the coaches and players for just hanging in there all game long.” Touted Dana. “A lot of things happened that was not advantageous for us to be able to win the football game. Just hung on and needed all 42 points to be able to win this game. Every game’s different. That’s why I think we got a good football team when we play well together. The guys understand if we’re struggling a little bit on one side of the ball, then the other needs to step up and that’s what happened today. Really proud of the guys to finish this thing and get a win on the road. It’s hard to do in the Big 12.”
The Mountaineers played in front of a sold out and raucous Longhorn crowd. It was announced that there were 100,703 fans inside Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium and Dana was impressed with the atmosphere.
“That’s as good as I’ve ever seen that place (Texas Memorial Stadium). They’re doing a good job around here. Tom’s (Herman) doing a good job. Their guys are playing hard. The crowd was into it. I’ve been here probably 10 times and had never looked like that. These guys got it going in the right direction.” Said Holgorsen.
West Virginia racked up 232 yards on the ground. Martell Pettaway ran for 121 yards and two touchdowns, including a big 55-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter. Kennedy McKoy also had a nice game with 94 yards on 17 carries. Holgorsen knew this was going to be a factor coming into the game.
“He’s (Pettaway) doing a good job. I thought Kennedy ran hard. He was almost a 100-yard rusher as well. We knew we had to run the ball. I thought we did a great job throughout the course of the week of scheming some things up. I thought the O-line did a good job. You lose your All-American tackle, it doesn’t bode well for what could be, but its just one of the things that happened throughout the course of the game that we had to overcome. And I think that what good teams do, is people step up. I thought Kelby Wickline went in there and did a good job for Yodny. We schemed some things up, we blocked well up front, we ran the ball hard and that’s why we moved the ball.”
From the outset, the game was back and forth. West Virginia and Texas traded scores throughout the first half resulting in 55 combined points and Texas holding onto a one-point lead. Both defenses settled in in the second half. However, big plays were still being made and momentum continued to bounce back and forth.
“I just think we’re an experienced mature team that is able to withstand the momentum swings throughout the course of the game, and we did. There’s a lot of times where they had momentum. I thought we gained some momentum-towards the end and they seized it right back and the crowd is into it. We had some offensive false start issues because of the crowd, where we hadn’t had that issue prior to this game. It’s a experienced mature team that’s able to hang in there and be able to do what we need to do to win.” Boasted Dana.
WVU wide receiver was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct for giving the “horns down gesture” on the Mountaineers first touchdown of the game. There seemed to be some confusion on why it was a penalty and Dana went on to explain that West Virginia has a hand gesture of their own.
“We got some hands signs too we can throw up. Some of you in here know what I’m talking about. There’s a hand signal that looks like the state of West Virginia that we could be flashing left and right out there. Here’s what I’m disappointed about, is we communicated with the refs if that thing was going to get called. I guess there was some miscommunication.”
West Virginia was trailing by seven and took over at their own 25-yard line with 2:34 left to play in the game. The Mountaineers just watched the Longhorns score with ease on a 48-yard touchdown pass from Sam Ehlinger to Devin Duvernay. All the momentum was with Texas, then Grier took the field. Completely unnerved, Grier drove his offense down the field on 5-5 passing for 55 yards and an absolute dime to Gary Jennings in the back of the endzone.
“It was an unbelievable throw. He gave David a chance the previous series too and that was a beautiful throw. He’s as good as I’ve seen at throwing the football. He sits back there, he’s bang up, he’s old and all that, but is experienced and as accurate as I’ve seen.” Said Dana
Then, without hesitation, the Mountaineers decided to go for the two-point conversion for the win with 16 seconds left on the clock.
“It was an easy decision. If you put the fate of the game in number sevens hands, I feel pretty good about it. We had that decision made before we even took the field. I felt confident with our offense at that point. Both defenses were having a hard time stopping the offenses. I think both offenses were doing a good job. I had confidence in Will to go out there and move us down the field, and we did. We executed a two-minute drive and scored a touchdown and the decision was already made. We’ve had this two-point conversion in our back pocket all year. Its got a lot of options and you put number seven in a position to where he has different options then he’s going to be tough to stop. He executed it twice. I wasn’t going to outsmart anybody. We weren’t going to call a different play based on them seeing what we did. Was happy he was able to finish it the right way.” Explained Dana.
The win over Texas is the biggest road win this late in the year since 2011 in Holgorsen’s first year at the helm, when they beat no. 23 Cincinnati. This is a big win and they need to enjoy it. However, there’s three game left in the regular season. Dana knows they must remain focused.
“They’re pretty fired up in there. We wanted to win this one pretty bad. Texas played really well. We wanted to win, that will give us some momentum going forward. A lot of football left to be played. We’ enjoy this one, get home and go back to work for TCU tomorrow.”