AUSTIN, Texas — It started out looking like a track meet but quickly evolved into a defensive battle. Texas, a team with problems on that side of the ball, shut down the West Virginia running game and stuffed the Mountaineers on four red-zone possessions in the second half to preserve a 17-13 win on a sunny afternoon at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium.
“Congrats to Texas, they made winning plays in key situations,” WVU head coach Neal Brown summed up.
Texas yielded just a pair of field goals on those four WVU red-zone possessions, twice holding the Mountaineers on downs on their last two possessions of the game. WVU quarterback Jarret Doege was 35 for 50 for 317 yards, but couldn’t make connections on those all-important third- and fourth-down chances.
The Longhorns held the Mountaineers (4-3 overall, 3-3 Big 12) to a paltry 43 rushing yards on 30 attempts. Starter Leddie Brown, apparently bothered by an injury throughout the game, had just 15 carries for 47 yards as UT’s big defensive tackles dominated the interior of the line.
Faced with several unsuccessful attempts on third downs and short-yardage situations, West Virginia reverted to three passes in situations close to the Texas goal line, but were unsuccessful in each. Winston Wright was unable to cleanly catch a second-and-8 pass that would have been a touchdown, Mike O’Laughlin got his hands on a fourth-and-1 pass but saw it broken up, and a throw to Ali Jennings in an identical down-and-distance scenario also fell incomplete.
West Virginia’s defense was also good, but Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger was able to muster a few plays that made the difference. While finishing below 50% passing at 15 of 31, Ehlinger completed two touchdown passes to close UT scoring drives. Both came on third down — counterpointing West Virginia’s shortcomings in the same critical situations.
WVU finished 6 of 16 on third down and 0 of 3 on fourth, while the Horns were 8 of 17 on third down.
Casey Legg, filling in for the injured Evan Staley, was successful on all three of his attempts, hitting a pair of short field goals and his only extra point.
WVU saw nine players catch at least one pass, with Isaiah Esdale (six catches, 60 yards) and Bryce Ford-Wheaton (six catches, 55 yards) leading the attack.
West Virginia returns home to host TCU next Saturday while Texas (5-2, 4-2) has an open date next week before hitting the road for a visit to Kansas on Nov. 21.