MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Paul Millard’s last three throws of overtime—all incompletions—all had chances to become touchdowns, which made a 47-40 loss to Texas even more painful to accept.
“You’ve got to give credit to Texas. It sucks, but that’s what it is,” said Millard, the junior backup from Dallas who played the final three-plus quarters in relief of a dazed Clint Trickett.
Millard’s bullpen appearance against his home-state Longhorns could have ended differently if not for a convergence of slight miscalculations by various players in OT.
“We had three throws and we didn’t get it done.” — Paul Millard on West Virginia’s failing in OT
In search of the tying touchdown, West Virginia faced second-and-goal at the 4 when Millard rolled right and saw Jordan Thompson pivoting free at the goal line. But Millard’s pass never got there, batted down by blitzing nickel back Quandre Diggs.
On third down, Kevin White ran a slant toward the back of the end zone, beating the Texas cornerback. But Millard’s pass never got there, knocked away by linebacker Steve Edmund who peeled off covering tight end Cody Clay at the goal line.
“I’m not sure what happened, but I know there was a guy who wasn’t supposed to be there,” White said. “(Edmund) just backed up and made a play on the ball. If he wasn’t there, it’s a touchdown.”
On fourth down, WVU’s Mario Alford ran the same slant, this time from the left side, and again beat the cornerback inside. But Millard’s pass never got there, intercepted by Edmund who once again abandoned coverage of Clay.
If Clay appeared to be too close to the receivers, that’s because he was.
“Cody’s got to get out in the flats,” said offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson. “We had what we wanted. The receiver got a great release to the inside on both plays. We wanted (Clay) to pivot out to the sideline to pull (the area open) for the post throw. It just didn’t happen.”
As Texas players poured onto the field in euphoria, Millard stared into the end zone WVU couldn’t reach.
“We had three throws and we didn’t get it done,” he said.
Millard threw for 259 yards on 16-of-32 passing, but he was picked off twice and fumbled four times, losing two.
“That’s just me holding the ball too long,” he said. “They were bringing more guys than we could block, so I’ve got to get the ball out of my hand. Those turnovers were not good.”
Not that Millard was without some moments of productivity. After all, he steered West Virginia to 31 points and beat press-man coverage by firing a 72-yard touchdown to Alford in the fourth quarter. That pass electrified Mountaineer Field and gave his team a 40-37 lead with 7:39 to play. That pass also turned out to be Millard’s final completion of the night.
“We fought our balls off, but you’ve got to give credit to Texas,” he said. “They made more plays than we did.”