West Virginia football has provided their fans with one of the more memorable games we have seen at Mountaineer Field in recent years. After Texas Tech scored its fifth touchdown of the day to take a commanding 35-17 lead with nine minutes left in the third quarter, the West Virginia Mountaineers responded differently than their past teams under head coach Dana Holgorsen. This team did not just lay down and accept defeat. The Mountaineers wanted to make it a special homecoming weekend with one of the wildest comebacks we have seen in school history.
Texas Tech came out of the gates ready to punch the Mountaineers in the mouth, which is exactly what they did. Red Raiders quarterback Nic Shimonek had one of the best halves of his career in Morgantown, connecting on four touchdown passes to three different receivers to give Texas Tech the advantage. The Mountaineer defense struggled to find its groove early on again, with multiple key missed tackles and coverage assignments in the secondary that stretched drives out to hurt West Virginia gaining control. The defense was not able to get off the field on third downs. Star senior running back Justin Crawford struggled to get the ground game going too as Texas Tech was the first team to keep him under 100 yards rushing in a game in 2017. The Red Raiders took a 28-17 lead to the locker room while West Virginia continued to search for answers.
West Virginia stormed the ball down the field over and over again in the second half behind star junior quarterback Will Grier‘s arm. He answered the Red Raiders third quarter touchdown by hitting his favorite target, mid-season All-American wide receiver David Sills V for an eight yard touchdown to dwindle down Texas Tech’s lead. The Mountaineer defense started to settle in during the second half as well, shutting down Texas Tech to just one second half touchdown after 28 first half points as senior safety Kyzir White and sophomore linebacker David Long took over, stuffing the Red Raiders run and pass games to swing the momentum. Then on the first drive of the fourth quarter, Grier threw a beautiful back-corner fade route in the end-zone to senior wide receiver Ka’Raun White, who made a tremendous Randy Moss-like catch over the defender for a 32-yard touchdown. The Mountaineer offense then went for two and converted it to Sills V again to make it a 35-32 game.
The Red Raider offense had yet another three-and-out drive as West Virginia looked to take their first lead of the day. Grier then leads a 6-play, 58 yard drive where he once again found White over the middle for a seven yard score to give the Mountaineers a 39-35 lead. Sophomore defensive end Adam Shuler then made his best play of the season the next Texas Tech drive on third down when he took down Shimonek for a sack to force another punt. Grier then would lead his final drive of the game, hitting Sills V once again for another 11-yard touchdown to seal the deal for West Virginia. The Mountaineers would go on to win the game 46-35, the second largest comeback in school history.
Grier finished the wild comeback with 352 yards in the air to go along with a career-high five touchdown passes, continuing to put up video-game like statistics since becoming the Mountaineer’s starting quarterback in 2017. He was assisted with star performances from his wide receivers Sills V and White, with Sills V recording 89 yards along with three touchdown catches and White gaining 114 yards with two scores. The Mountaineer offense ranks among some of the best offenses in the country in most statistical categories. Texas Tech struggled to swing the momentum back their way with three missed field goals and over 150 yards of penalties. This comeback was more than just another win for Coach Holgorsen, who finally took down a ranked opponent for the first time since 2014 when the Mountaineers took down number four Baylor at the time. West Virginia already lost two one possession games earlier this season to ranked opponents in Virginia Tech and TCU. The big win keeps West Virginia’s hopes of reaching the Big 12 Championship game in December alive, remaining in the race with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and TCU. It also put West Virginia back into the AP Top 25 polls as the number 23 team in the country when they travel to Waco, Texas for a match-up with Baylor this Saturday.