BEVO BEAT Football

Not a great day for defense: Texas leads West Virginia at halftime, 28-27

Posted November 3rd, 2018

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It’s halftime at Royal-Memorial Stadium. No. 17 Texas is leading No. 13 West Virginia, 28-27.

The Longhorns are just 1 1/2-point favorites at home today in front of a sellout crowd. These teams looked close on paper and that’s holding up on the field.

Consider this: Through the first 20 minutes of play, there were 38 points, 421 yards, 12 penalties for 110 yards, one player ejection, a fourth-down conversion and scoring plays of 60 and 55 yards.

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This hasn’t been a day for defense.

Texas’ five drives: Punt, TD, TD, TD, TD

West Virginia’s six drives: FG, punt, TD, TD, TD, FG

Scoring plays

First quarter (Texas 14, WVU 10)

WVU: Evan Staley 45-yard field goal, 11:03

Texas: Sam Ehlinger 1-yard run (Cameron Dicker kick, 4:36)

WVU: David Sills V 60-yard pass from Will Grier (Staley kick, 3:08)

Texas: Humphrey 21-yard pass from Ehlinger (Dicker kick, 1:50)

Second quarter (Halftime — Texas 28, WVU 27)

WVU: Evan Staley 45-yard field goal, 11:03

Texas: Sam Ehlinger 1-yard run (Cameron Dicker kick, 4:36)

WVU: David Sills V 60-yard pass from Will Grier (Staley kick, 3:08)

Texas: Humphrey 21-yard pass from Ehlinger (Dicker kick, 1:50)

WVU: Staley 44-yard field goal, :09

Big moments: First quarter

  • Davante Davis left with an injury on West Virginia’s opening drive. He was replaced by Josh Thompson. He’s out for the game.
  • On third-and-10 from Texas’ 28, Grier threw it up to David Sills V toward the end zone. But Kris Boyd, battling Grier down the right sideline, broke it up. West Virginia still scored — that makes it now seven of nine games where the opponent has scored on its first drive — but after what we saw last week in Stillwater, Boyd breaking up a touchdown pass has to be a welcome sight.

Boyd had another breakup late in the quarter on a good hit just as the ball arrived to Sills. He was flagged for pass interference on a third-and-3 breakup with 1:25 left in the half. The crowd didn’t agree.

It was a similar route that we saw at the end of last week, when Boyd mistimed his leap on a 36-yard touchdown catch by Taylan Wallace.

  • That WVU field goal was from 45 yards out — into a stiff, 19-mph wind.

That wind is legit. Immediately after the field goal, the ball blew off the tee for the kickoff — twice. The Mountaineers had to go with a live holder. Same thing later happened to Texas, after the Longhorns’ first score. By th end of the half, every kickoff was featuring a holder.

  • Lil’Jordan Humphrey set up Texas’ first score on a brilliant 23-yard catch down to the 1-yard line. Sam Ehlinger made it happen by throwing a perfectly placed pass under heavy pressure (three WVU blitzers) and Humphrey went high to not only catch it over Toyous Avery Jr., but also got two feet in before going out of bounds. It was a catch that could be seen on Sundays.
  • One play, two big moments: WVU’s David Sills V burned Caden Sterns for a 60-yard touchdown catch — but then got flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for flashing the “Horns Down” to fans in the end zone. As best we can tell, that’s the first time anyone’s been flagged for a Horns Down offense. Maybe it was because Sills gave them a double HD.
  • On the very next play — the extra point — starting left tackle Yodny Cajuste was ejected for shoving a Texas player on the line.
  • Malcolm Roach was flagged for a horse collar tackle on Grier. It negated a third-and-15 incompletion, giving the Mountaineers new life at Texas’ 22. It also knocked Grier out of the game; he stayed on the turf for a couple of minutes before walking off on his own.

Grier was replaced by Jack Allison, a redshirt sophomore. But Grier missed only one play and a long TV timeout in between quarters; he threw a touchdown pass to open the second quarter.

Near misses: Jeffrey McCulloch nearly came up with a tipped pass on the Mountaineers’ opening drive. … Lil’Jordan Humphrey almost corralled a one-handed grab over the middle on third-and-11 of Texas’ first drive; it would’ve been a first down near midfield. … Ehlinger missed a wide open Andrew Beck for what would’ve been a 24-yard touchdown, but it turned out OK — Humphrey had a really nice grab at the 1 on a really nice throw when WVU blitzed on the very next play.

Big moments: Second quarter

  • Collin Johnson’s 45-yard touchdown catch was called back because of a pick penalty on Humphrey. Texas still ended up scoring on the drive, however.
  • On that same drive, Tom Herman decided to go for it on fourth-and-3 from WVU’s 43-yard line — Texas was trailing 17-14 with 11 minutes left. Ehlinger found Johnson in single coverage on the right side for 26 yards, and the Horns went on to score on a Tre Watson run.
  • Caden Sterns missed a tackle on Martell Pettaway’s 55-yard touchdown jaunt. And Pettaway outran P.J. Locke for the final 20 yards.
  • Boyd broke up a third down pass to Jovani Haskins on WVU’s final drive of the half, but was flagged for interference. Given new life at UT’s 44, the Mountaineers ended up kicking a field goal.
  • Speaking of that field goal … Staley missed from 44 yards out with 14 seconds left. But Herman had called time out right before the snap. Given a second chance, the second effort was good.

Ehlinger is 13 of 20 for 189 yards and 2 TDs; he also has 22 rushing yards on five carries. Grier is 17 of 29 for 206 yards and 2 TDs. Sills has 5 catches for 91 yards and 2 TDs.

Chris Nelson started at defensive tackle — two days after he was ruled out because of an ankle injury sustained in practice on Thursday. We were told about his status upgrade an hour or two before kickoff.

Keontay Ingram started as well. It’s his second as a Longhorn. He has 27 yards on 9 carries, an average of 3 per.

Breckyn Hager left on WVU’s second drive. Looked like a shoulder injury. He’s out for the game.

Ryan Bujcevski efforts so far: Just one punt, for 48 yards.

Texas, which won the opening toss, will get the ball to start the second half.

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