West Virginia uses efficient effort to earn first Big 12 victory at TCU, 29-17

West Virginia’s lengthy road losing streak is no more.

Behind a sound offensive effort and a defense that limited TCU to one touchdown and forced three second-half turnovers, the Mountaineers claimed a 29-17 victory over the Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium.

“It’s really important, so the locker room is excited, but this isn’t an unexpected win,” WVU head coach Neal Brown said. “Our guys have really expected to win, but we haven’t done things in the fourth quarter to go win the games. We went and won the game today.”

West Virginia (3-4, 1-3) ended a three-game losing streak overall and seven-game skid on the road that dated back to its 2019 win in Forth Worth during Brown’s first season.

Brown is now 3-0 against TCU, while West Virginia has beaten the Horned Frogs four straight times.

“Great team win. Proud of our staff,” Brown said. “We handled the bye week in a positive manner. Proud of our players. We played with a ton of energy tonight. We strained.”

The start of the contest couldn’t have gone more to the Horned Frogs’ liking as Derius Davis returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.

West Virginia responded with a quality opening drive that featured Jarret Doege’s 44-yard pass to Sean Ryan, but stalled in the red zone and settled for Casey Legg’s 27-yard field goal and a 7-3 deficit.

The Mountaineers’ second series was perhaps their best drive of the season and covered 94 yards in 15 plays. It ended with the first of three Leddie Brown rushing touchdowns from 5 yards with 7 seconds left in the opening quarter. Ten of the 15 plays were runs, including five straight by Brown to finish the drive and three from Tony Mathis that totaled 22 yards. One of Brown’s final five runs was a 3-yard gain on fourth-and-1 from the TCU 14.

“We were going to be intentional about running the football and we talked to our guys about that throughout the course of the week,” Neal Brown said. “You can’t just talk about it. You have to show it and be about action. You show faith in your team when you go for it on fourth and shorts.”

A 67-yard run by Garrett Greene led to Legg’s second field goal from 38 yards, giving the Mountaineers a 13-7 lead 9:38 before halftime.

TCU (3-4, 1-3) responded with its only touchdown drive and needed Max Duggan’s 5-yard pass to Taye Barber on fourth-and-3 to regain the lead, 14-13.

But the Mountaineers answered in 2:26 as Brown plunged into the end zone from 1 yard to finish a drive that featured a 40-yard pass from Doege to Winston Wright Jr., leaving WVU with the 20-14 lead.

Griffin Kell’s 24-yard field goal late in the opening half cut TCU’s deficit in half. It initially looked as though the Horned Frogs would keep their offense on the field on fourth-and-goal from the 2, but after Brown spent WVU’s last timeout, TCU intentionally took a delay of game and settled for three points to leave itself a 20-17 halftime deficit.

The Mountaineers did not punt in the opening half, while piling up 304 total yards on 8.7 yards per play.

“I never thought we really bounced back from the two opening touchdown drives against Baylor, but as a football team, we handled adversity much, much better,” Neal Brown said.

After being forced to punt for the first time on its opening series of the second half, the Mountaineers got a timely third down interception from Darryl Porter Jr., who returned the pick 40 yards to the TCU 42.

“You could see it coming. He’s playing with more confidence,” Neal Brown said. “We’ve been on our guys about pull the trigger and that means go get the ball. That’s what happened on the one on the sideline. He went and got it, made a play and that got us going in the second half.”

While WVU managed only one first down from there, Legg drilled a 49-yard field goal to up the lead to 23-17 with 3:56 to play in the third quarter.

Charles Woods intercepted Duggan on TCU’s first offensive play of the fourth quarter, and Woods’ 32-yard return left the Mountaineers at the Horned Frogs’ 15.

“Our coaches preach all the time you never know when your opportunity is going to come,” said Woods, an offseason transfer from Illinois State. “Prepare like a pro, stay ready at all times and when your name is called, make a play.”

Three Brown runs covered the 15 yards, the last of which was a 3-yard TD. Leading by 12, WVU went for two, but Doege’s pass for tight end Mike O’Laughlin fell incomplete.

The ensuing TCU series ended when Josh Chandler-Semedo stopped Zach Evans for a loss of 5 yards on fourth-and-2, though WVU was unable to add to its lead when Legg’s 38-yard field goal was blocked. It marked the first miss this season for Legg on 14 field-goal attempts.

However, the Mountaineers came up with a third and final turnover of the second half after Duggan connected with Quentin Johnston for 29 yards and Sean Mahone forced a fumble that Woods recovered.

“The secondary specifically hadn’t produced a lot of turnovers,” Woods said. “We had to produce more turnovers and find a way to get the ball back to our offense and find a way to win.”

West Virginia then possessed the ball for nearly 4 minutes of the remaining 5:15 to seal the verdict.

Doege had an efficient effort in the win, completing 21-of-28 passes for 257 yards.

Brown rushed 24 times for 111 yards and the Mountaineers amassed 229 yards on the ground, including 69 from Greene and 48 from Mathis.

“We knew coming into this game that both teams were going to run the ball and the team that ran the ball better was going to win,” Leddie Brown said. “We knew we had to play more physical up front and in the backfield.”

Ryan had a team-high 81 receiving yards on four catches. Bryce Ford-Wheaton and Wright added 65 and 59 receiving yards, respectively.

Duggan threw for 244 yards but was picked off twice as West Virginia matched its interception total through the first six games.

The Horned Frogs rushed for 149 yards and averaged 6.6 yards per play, but were shutout in the second half.

Chandler-Semedo had a team-high 11 tackles in the victory .

“We didn’t play up to our standard against Baylor so we were kind of disappointed by that,” Chandler-Semedo said. “But ultimately, we knew the team that we were, and we played up to our capability. Now we still have to go out and win five more games. We’re definitely not satisfied with this win. We just have to keep it rolling.”

More Sports

Yes Bears: Fairmont Senior stops Independence 21-12, notches third Class AA title in four years
Germaine Lewis rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns and the Polar Bears got a strong defensive effort to slow down the Patriots.
December 3, 2021 - 11:28 pm
Postgame video recaps: Fairmont Senior 21, Independence 12 (Class AA final)
December 3, 2021 - 11:20 pm
Mountaineers welcome Radford in Darris Nichols' return to Coliseum
West Virginia seeks its fourth straight victory against first-year Highlanders' head coach who was an accomplished point guard during his playing days in Morgantown.
December 3, 2021 - 5:48 pm
Richmond pleased with Notre Dame College's 4-1 start on the hardwood
Falcons prevailed early, before suffering first loss to Glenville State.
December 3, 2021 - 2:00 pm