Texas, doomed by an uncharacteristic five turnovers, is now 0 for 2015 in road games.
West Virginia scored 24 points off Longhorns turnovers in a 38-20 win in Morgantown. The loss drops Texas to 4-6 overall, and the Longhorns will have to win their final two games (Texas Tech and Baylor) to get to a bowl game.
Bowl games, however, seem like a faraway proposition. Texas had three lost fumbles and two interceptions. Any chances of a fourth quarter comeback were spoiled by a Jerrod Heard interception that helped West Virginia score a game-sealing touchdown run with 3:42 left in the game.
Johnathan Gray suffered an ankle injury. D’Onta Foreman was hurt too, possibly a broken finger. Hassan Ridgeway was injured. So was Patrick Vahe.
Texas had more total yards, more rushing yards, more passing yards, more first downs, performed better on third-down conversions, ran more plays than West Virginia and had a five-minute advantage in time of possession.
But turnovers were the real killer. West Virginia scored 24 points off Texas turnovers. The Longhorns had committed only seven of them all season, which were tied for the sixth fewest in the country.
“We played well enough — if we could just eliminate some mistakes that we made,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “… We felt we had a chance as the game went on, and then we threw that last interception there. We can only continue to just battle; we have two more (games) left.”
In four true road losses, Texas has dropped decisions to the tune of 38-3 at Notre Dame, 50-7 at TCU, 24-0 at Iowa State and now 38-20 at West Virginia. The Mountaineers were averaging 37.4 points at home — and scored 38. The Longhorns were allowing an average of 37.3 points on the road — and gave up 38.
Texas, however, did score first. That means the Longhorns are 10-2 in the Strong era when they score first.
West Virginia’s second pass of the day was picked off by Davante Davis. Texas got on the board with Nick Rose’s 31-yard field goal, though a touchdown run by Heard before that was wiped out by a holding call on Connor Williams. That 3-0 lead was wiped away on Texas’ third series, when Foreman fumbled a handoff exchange and West Virginia linebacker Jared Barber returned it 42 yards for the 7-3 lead. Foreman — who finished with 147 yards — quickly made up for the mistake, though. He rumbled 65 yards for a touchdown on the next drive, giving Texas a 10-7 lead to end the first quarter.
West Virginia went up 14-10 in the second quarter by pounding its running game, scoring a short touchdown on a run by Elijah Wellman. Texas answered by going with Tyrone Swoopes and Foreman, who converted a fourth-and-7 on the way to get to WVU’s 25. But that drive ended prematurely when Swoopes fumbled. It allowed the Mountaineers to strike right before the half — a 53-yard touchdown pass from Skyler Howard to Jovon Durante with a minute left.
So the Longhorns, who were 0-9 under Strong when trailing at halftime, trailed at halftime, 22-10. Texas came into this game ranked 12th nationally in turnover margin, but gave it away twice in the first half — the Foreman fumble (which resulted in a touchdown return) and the Swoopes fumble (which took away a Texas scoring opportunity at WVU’s 25). West Virginia scored 14 points off those turnovers.
Texas, which got the ball to start the second half, cut the lead to 21-17 on its first drive of the third quarter. But both Foreman and Gray were shaken up on the drive. On third-and-4 from the WVU 5, Heard rolled right and found Daje Johnson for the short touchdown, Johnson’s first receiving score of the season. But things went downhill from there. The Mountaineers went up 28-17 on a touchdown drive, and Kris Boyd fumbled the ensuing kickoff at Texas’ 22 to close the third quarter.
Josh Lambert’s 19-yard field goal put WVU up 31-17 at the start of the fourth quarter, and another Texas scoring opportunity was spoiled when Heard’s fourth-down pass from the 22 was picked off inside WVU’s 5-yard line. It was an underthrow. Nick Rose’s 34-yard field goal cut it to 31-20 with just a little more than 9 minutes left. Texas had a shot until Heard’s fateful pick with less than four minutes left; Skyler Howard’s short touchdown run put the game away.
Heard was 11 of 18 for 162 yards, with the one touchdown and the two interceptions. Foreman (18-147-1) outshined Gray (14-56). For WVU, Howard was 10 of 12 for 122 yards, two touchdowns and the pick by Davis. Wendell Smallwood had 24 carries for 165 yards and went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season.
The five Texas-WVU results:
2015: West Virginia, 38-20 (Morgantown)
2014: Texas, 33-16 (DKR)
2013: Texas, 47-40 in overtime (Morgantown)
2012: West Virginia, 48-45 (DKR)
1956: West Virginia, 7-6 (DKR)
On deck: Texas is off for a week, but turns around for a quick matchup with Texas Tech on Thanksgiving (6:30 p.m., FS1).
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