West Virginia claimed its most exhilarating victory of the 2023 season Saturday night, scoring a touchdown with 23 seconds remaining to prevail 34-31 at Baylor.
The Mountaineers’ lone scoring drive of the second half came on their final series and allowed for an 8-4 regular season finish, including 6-3 in Big 12 play. It consisted of six plays for 80 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown pass from Garrett Greene to Jahiem White that provided the winning points.
Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, they were without Zach Frazier for their final five offensive plays after the veteran center suffered a lower body injury that looked to be to an ankle on the first play of the drive.
It seems that it was the final college snap for Frazier, a four-year starter and junior who has accepted an invitation to the Reese’s Senior Bowl and is a likely selection in the 2024 NFL Draft should he opt to turn pro.
“He had an injury that’s significant,” fifth-year West Virginia head coach Neal Brown said. “Not something that’s going to be long term, but he probably won’t play in the bowl game.”
If it was the final play of Frazier’s stellar career with the Mountaineers, for as unfortunate as it is, the ending would also at least be somewhat fitting.
Trailing 31-27 and having been outscored 17-0 in the second half, the Mountaineers took over at their own 20-yard line with 1:14 remaining after Baylor failed to add to its lead by missing a 32-yard field goal.
WVU was without a timeout, but elected for a quick pass from Greene to wide receiver Hudson Clement to start the series. Clement made the catch at the 21-yard line and worked his way for a few more yards, before Frazier got behind him and moved Clement and a pile of Bears’ defenders an additional 5-plus yards, allowing the play to result in an 11-yard gain, and more importantly, a first down that momentarily stopped the clock.
Yet it was toward the end of the play that Frazier suffered an injury while aiding his teammate for additional yardage, and had he been unable to get off the field on his own, a 10-second runoff would’ve been enforced. Instead, the former Fairmont Senior standout limped off the field and Brandon Yates took one over at center for the final five plays and 69 yards the series covered.
“I can’t say enough about Zach Frazier. So appreciative of him and his family and one play sums up who he is for his entire career,” Brown said. “I hope our fan base really understands that a young man from Fairmont, I think, is the best center in college football. This is how smart he is and how tough he is — he limps off on one leg to avoid a 10-second runoff.”
Brown continued to say that while he plans on coaching for a long time, he’s not sure a better center than Frazier will come along.
“I’ve had some good players, but never coached one better,” Brown said. “Kind of bittersweet really. We win the game at the end, but he gets hurt, so my level of excitement is subdued because of that.”
Before beginning his postgame media session, Greene made it a point to express his disappointment over Frazier’s injury, offering his thoughts and prayers to a close friend.
It wasn’t lost on West Virginia’s quarterback what Frazier’s reaction to the injury was when the center put the team above his well-being for a short, but vital time.
“The normal person really doesn’t realize that, but that’s the type of kid he is,” Greene said. “He’s as selfless as they come. Ten seconds could’ve been the difference. I love him and I’d do anything for him.”