West Virginia wasn’t able to pull off its second signature upset of the season, as the Mountaineers wound up on the losing end of a 47-40 overtime game to Texas that featured eight lead changes in regulation and seven combined turnovers.
Unable to seal the victory on offense in regulation after failing to convert a second-and-one and third-and-one with under three minutes to play, a short 30-yard punt by Nick O’Toole set up Texas with good field position with about two minutes to play down three.
"It's tough to take," said WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen. "We called two-consecutive run plays, and we didn't get a yard ... I didn't know what else to call."
On fourth-and-seven at the WVU 47-yard line, quarterback Case McCoy found receiver Jaxon Shipley for a first down with under a minute to go. A play later following a WVU timeout, running back Malcolm Brown broke loose over the right side for 27 yards to the WVU 11-yard line.
The Longhorns took a timeout with 21 seconds to go after two rushes from Brown that took the ball to the seven-yard line. Freshman cornerback Daryl Worley defended an overthrown ball from McCoy to receiver Mike Davis and set up a 24-yard field goal from Anthony Fera to tie the game at 40-40 with 13 seconds left.
WVU had a 10-point lead with more than five minutes remaining in the third quarter, but was not able to hold on for the regulation win – a common theme for this team in 2013.
In overtime, Texas received the ball first. McCoy found receiver Marcus Johnson wide open in the WVU secondary, which gave the Longhorns a first-and-goal situation. Three plays after, McCoy found fullback Alex De La Torre out of the backfield for the go-ahead touchdown to make it 47-40.
"I thought we were playing very well for a long period of time. I give them credit. They did some things great. We made a mistake or two, but at the same time they were challenging us," said Texas head coach Mack Brown. "We were working hard to adjust and keep on moving. The offense overshot in the fourth quarter, and I'm just glad we made it to overtime."
West Virginia flew out of the gates in overtime on offense, as receiver Mario Alford took a reverse on the first play for 20 yards to the five-yard line. WVU quarterback Paul Millard underthrew receiver Jordan Thompson on second-and-goal for what looked like the tying touchdown. Another incompletion made it fourth-and-goal.
Millard was intercepted linebacker Steve Edmond in the middle of the end zone, letting Texas escape with the win.
"It was the same play as the third-down play just on the other side of the field," Millard said. "I tried to get in the back of the end zone, and I had a little pressure, but we just didn't get it done."
WVU (4-6, 2-5 Big 12 Conference) needs to win its final two games against Kansas and Iowa State to make it to a bowl. Texas (7-2, 6-0) has won six straight games and still controls its own destiny in the Big 12 championship and BCS bowl race with undefeated Baylor.
WVU’s starting quarterback Clint Trickett went down with an injury early in the first half, and that forced backup Paul Millard into action. He was rusty, fumbling twice and throwing an interception, but finished 16-of-32 for 259 yards and one touchdown. He had two interceptions.
"I'm obviously disappointed. We didn't want to go out there and lose that game," he said. "I struggled to get things going early, but I got in a rhythm, so I started to play better ... It's frustrating, because we had a chance to win in overtime - three straight throws, and we didin't get it done."
Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said: "He did decent. Overall, we still put the ball on the ground too much at the quarterback position. We put our defense in bad situations too many times for no apparent reason."
West Virginia was led offensively, once again, by senior running back Charles Sims, who had 24 carries for 93 yards and three touchdowns. He also had five catches for 42 yards. Fellow running back Dreamius Smith also had a touchdown on the ground.
In the first half, neither team could put together a consistent offensive performance. At the half, the teams combined for just 257 yards, and WVU held a 19-13 lead despite some very erratic play on offense.
In that first half, and through half of the third quarter, as well, the West Virginia defense was a wall that Texas couldn’t break through. It forced Texas to try three field goals after making stops in the red zone through the first two-and-a-half quarters.
In the final quarter-and-a-half, the offenses took over.
The two teams combined to score 38 points in the final 20 minutes of regulation, the final three of those coming on the game-tying kick by Fera, to end up in overtime.
"At some point in the second half, you have to make plays. You have to be able to make plays and get off the field," said WVU defensive coordinator Keith Patterson. "They had guys that wanted to make a play, and we didn't."
Texas finished with 435 yards of total offense. WVU had 399 yards. The Longhorns were 10-of-23 on third down but was much more successful in the second half. West Virginia was 7-of-18.
West Virginia was led in the receiving game by Kevin White (five catches for 89 yards) and Mario Alford (four catches for 97 yards and one touchdown).
Texas’ starting running back Jonathan Gray went out of the game due to injury mid-way through, and that allowed backup Malcolm Brown to rush for 89 yards on 28 attempts. Texas finished with 152 yards, which is less than it has been averaging during its now six-game winning streak.
"They couldn't run the ball on us. I thought we were very physical up front and made it tough on them to run it," Patterson said. "I don't know how to describe. You exhibit the same calls and defenses in the second half and got people in position to make plays. For whatever reason, we don't. I don't know how to fix it really."
McCoy was solid but not spectacular. He finished 27-of-49 for 283 yards and three touchdowns. He limited his mistakes against a feisty, blitzing WVU defense.
McCoy’s top receiver was Shipley, who had seven catches for 82 yards and that touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Texas' defense had six sacks and was led by Edmond in tackles (12).
WVU was led in tackles by linebacker Jared Barber, who had 14 and a forced fumble. Fellow linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski had nine tackles including an interception in the first half. Defensive lineman Kyle Rose had a fumble recovery.