FORT WORTH, Texas — This all could have easily gone the other way.
As it has for most of the season, the West Virginia University offense struggled mightily for most of Friday’s season finale at TCU.
This is nothing new and it’s a phenomenon that has put the Mountaineer defense in some bad and, as it turned out, impossible spots.
That was not the case on Friday in Fort Worth.
WVU quarterback Jarret Doege, making his third start of the season, tossed three interceptions to the Horned Frogs. Earlier this season, that would almost certainly have been a death sentence for this WVU team, but Friday was different.
The Mountaineers allowed zero points as a result of their three turnovers, and that proved to be a big difference in a 20-17 win on the road at TCU.
On the flip side of that, West Virginia was able to score 10 points off two interceptions thrown by TCU quarterback Max Duggan.
“If you look at all the stats, the biggest stat and reason we won the game is we got 10 points off turnovers,” Brown said. “We threw three interceptions and they got zero points — I think that ended up being the story of the game.”
The West Virginia defense held TCU to just 297 total yards and kept the Horned Frog offense scoreless in the second half (though TCU did score on a punt return touchdown in the third quarter).
“It’s huge,” WVU senior linebacker Shea Campbell, a Morgantown native playing in his final game with the Mountaineers, said. “We always talk about points off turnovers and you look at — I mean, they didn’t score. That’s critical. That’s probably why we won the game. I know we held them on defense to what, 10 points? That’s a testament to everybody in that locker room right now.”
Wheeling feeling for Donahue
WVU senior defensive end Reese Donahue has never been one to hide the pride he feels for the place he comes from. For Donahue, that has meant four years of showing love for his home state of West Virginia. Now that his college football career is over, however, Donahue will get the chance to show some more love, specifically to the place he was at before WVU.
Donahue was a standout prep player at Cabell Midland High in Ona before moving to Morgantown for college.
On Friday, the Knights beat rival Spring Valley in the Class AAA state semifinals to set up a trip to Wheeling Island Stadium for next week’s title game.
Donahue had not been able to check the score of the Midland game by the time he made it to the postgame interview session, but said if the Knights won he’d be in Wheeling for next week’s game.
Start packing for Wheeling, Reese.
“I haven’t got to look at it yet, but I tell you what though — I texted [Cabell Midland] Coach [Luke] Salmons and I said we’re going to win out, you guys go win out and I’ll meet you at the state championship game. If they win tonight I’ll be driving up to Wheeling. If they make it, I’ll drive up to Wheeling and you guys will see me there.”
Fortune’s favorable future
Cornerback Nicktroy Fortune has played some — but not a lot — this season with seniors Keith Washington and Hakeem Bailey ahead of him on the depth chart. When Washington left’s Friday’s game with an injury and did not return, however, Fortune was the next man up and did a good job. It was Fortune on the field breaking up passes down the stretch as the Mountaineers held off the Horned Frogs in the final minutes of Friday’s game, and Brown certainly noticed.
“I was proud of him,” Brown said of Fortune. “[TCU] challenged him. They went after him. He came through and made a great play. He’s got a bright future here.”
Friday’s game may have marked the end of WVU’s 2019 football season, but it didn’t take long for the Mountaineer head coach to start thinking about 2020 and beyond.
Brown said wins like the one by the Mountaineers on Friday and earlier this month at Kansas State, as well as several other factors, are going to be feathers in his hat when it comes time to start recruiting — which is Sunday, in case you were wondering.
“What we’ve done in November validates the plan we’ve got in place,” Brown said. “We’ve got a lot to sell with facility upgrades and a lot of young guys playing.”