6:00: Morning News

Late defensive touchdown lifts Texas Tech over West Virginia, 34-27

(Neal Brown postgame Zoom Conference)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Zech McPhearson’s 54-yard scoop-and-score with 8:44 left lifted Texas Tech to a 34-27 win over West Virginia at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock. The Red Raiders never trailed and scored twenty first-half points to pick up their first Big 12 victory of the season.

“Texas Tech, they won the fourth quarter and they won the game. We lost the fourth quarter and we lost the game. It is pretty much that simple,” said WVU head coach Neal Brown.

On the first play of the decisive possession, WVU’s Jarret Doege completed a pass to Sam James but Texas Tech’s Jacob Morgenstern jarred the ball loose and McPhearson scored a return touchdown for the second consecutive game.

“We were in position in the fourth and inside the fifty and felt good. We missed a couple blocks, fumbled the football, they returned it. And we didn’t answer.”

West Virginia was unable to score on their final two possessions. The Mountaineers drove to the Red Raider 39-yard line with a second left but a Hail Mary pass fell incomplete, leaving the Mountaineers with a second consecutive loss to Tech.

Texas Tech opened the scoring on their first possession with a 10-play, 69-yard drive capped by a Henry Colombi 1-yard touchdown run.

West Virginia needed just 1:48 to respond, going 75 yards on 5 plays. Leddie Brown’s 3-yard tote evened the score at 7-7.

Tech took the lead right back on their next possession when SaRodorick Thompson got loose into the WVU secondary for a 48-yard touchdown run. The Red Raiders led 13-7 after the first quarter.

In the second stanza, Evan Staley field goals were sandwiched around a Colombi 11-yard touchdown toss to Trey Cleveland. Tech led 20-13 at halftime.

West Virginia forced the game’s first turnover on Tech’s first possession of the second half. Jeffery Pooler forced a fumble and Dante Stills recovered it at the Red Raider 24-yard line. Two plays later, Doege hit tight end T.J.Banks on a 2-yard touchdown connection, tying the score at 20-20.

Texas Tech answered right back with a 9-play, 73-yard drive. Tajh Brooks capped it with a 5-yard run, putting Tech up 27-20. West Virginia evened the score on their next possession as Brown scored his second touchdown. The 1-yard dive evened the score 27-27 through three quarters. The drive featured a fake punt where Winston Wright rushed for eight yards near midfield to move the sticks.

“We have been practicing it since the season started,” Wright said. “Coach Brown has been pushing us to run it and our special teams coordinator Coach Koontz kept telling me we were going to run it. We might not run it this game. When the time comes, we just executed it.”

Texas Tech Red Raiders defensive back DaMarcus Fields (23) breaks up a pass in the end zone against the West Virginia Mountaineers (Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports)

Making his first collegiate start, Texas Tech’s Henry Colombi was 22-of-28 for 169 yards and a touchdown toss. West Virginia outgained Texas Tech 438-348.

“Their tempo bothered us,” Brown said. “Their quarterback played well, credit to him. And they were able to ding us enough in the run game with 180 yards. It was going to be a tough game for us giving up 180 yards rushing.”

“The biggest thing with us was the tempo,” said WVU safety Sean Mahone. “We have to get lined up faster. I feel like today, including myself, we didn’t get lined up fast. That hurt us.”

Leddie Brown scored a pair of rushing touchdowns but was held to 77 yards on 21 carries. WVU rushed for 91 yards, their second-lowest output of the season.

“We’ve got to be able to run the football to win games,” Brown said. “You run it in the fourth quarter and we didn’t run it. We didn’t block cleanly up front late in the game. The second thing we didn’t do running back-wise, we made single cut, a lot of chopping our feet. And when you do that, you allow them to come to you.”

Doege completed 32-of-50 passes for 347 yards and a touchdown. Winston Wright reeled in 9 passes for 126 yards. As a team, West Virginia dropped seven passes.

“I thought we threw the ball well,” Doege said. “I have to make some throws. I think back to three throws that could have changed the game. I felt like our pass game was working but we have to get better in order to win those games.”

West Virginia Mountaineers side receiver Dylan Tonkery (10) reacts after the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders (Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports)

West Virginia leading tackler, Tony Fields II, was ejected in the second quarter on a targeting call.

“The thing about Tony is that he is fast,” Mahone said. “Their quarterback, he kept scrambling and that definitely hurt us later on.”

The Mountaineers (3-2, 2-2 Big 12) return home to face Kansas State (4-1, 4-0 Big 12) on Halloween at noon.

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