Defense was bound to play some kind of role Saturday when West Virginia and Texas Tech collided at Jones AT&T Stadium in a matchup of offensive juggernauts.
After getting pushed around for most of the second half, the 12th-ranked Mountaineers’ defense finally broke through, and the big play came at a most opportune time.
West Virginia cornerback Keith Washington snatched a Jett Duffey pass to the left sideline and rambled 51 yards the other direction for a game-sealing touchdown with 2:58 to go as the Mountaineers nabbed a 42-34 victory over the No. 25 Red Raiders.
The pick-six blunted a Tech rally that featured 17 unanswered points after West Virginia (4-0, 2-0 Big 12) stormed to a 28-7 lead in the first quarter and 35-10 at halftime.
Senior quarterback Will Grier passed for 370 yards and three touchdowns for the Mountaineers.
The Red Raiders (3-2, 1-1) produced 10 points in the initial 7:10 of the final period to claw back within 35-27, both drives aided by a key play. The first featured Duffey’s electric 27-yard scramble on a fourth-and-9 play to set up one field goal, while Duffey’s 3-yard touchdown run with 7:50 left was set up when a fortuitous bounce off of Washington’s back landed in receiver Antoine Wesley’s hands for a 27-yard pickup.
Duffey took over at quarterback when freshman Alan Bowman was crunched on a third-down play late in the first half and never returned.
At that point, the Mountaineers seemed to be in full command, thanks to an explosive first 15 minutes. Grier dissected the Tech defense early on, connecting on 4 of 6 throws for 73 yards in a methodical touchdown drive to begin the game, capped by a 13-yard strike to Gary Jennings Jr.
Grier threw for 203 yards and had 278 at halftime.
But the second half was a struggle for Grier and West Virginia’s offense because, for the second week in a row, the Tech defense stymied a high-octane offense.
The Mountaineers finished with 489 yards but only 107 after halftime.
That gave Duffey and the Red Raiders’ offense time to get comfortable and once they did, momentum swung to the home team. With Duffey using his legs as much as his arm — he passed for 172 yards and ran for 86 — Tech produced points on four of five second-half possessions.
But the late turnover ended the comeback bid and capped a big day for Washington, who also recorded seven tackles and three pass breakups.
—Field Level Media