Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger gets up with help from offensive lineman Elijah Rodriguez after his helmet came off on a key fourth-down attempt Saturday. [Stephen Spillman/For American-Statesman]

Football

No. 13 West Virginia 42, No. 17 Texas 41: Five key plays

Mountaineers go for the win and get it as Will Grier comes through

Posted November 4th, 2018

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Story highlights
  • Big day for Tre Watson includes rushing and receiving touchdowns.
  • Sam Ehlinger's helmet is dislodged on fourth down near goal line.
  • Devin Duvernay has 48-yard TD catch.

There were 150 snaps taken in No. 17 Texas’ 42-41 loss to No. 13 West Virginia on Saturday. Here are five that ended up making a big difference:

1. Touchdown Tre

The opening quarter featured three touchdowns, an ejection and a “Horns Down” penalty, but Texas senior Tre Watson was not involved in any of the action. With Keaontay Ingram getting the start, Watson did not receive any first-quarter touches. In the second session, though, he made up for lost time.

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Watson ran for a 5-yard touchdown in the quarter. His 32-yard TD catch then gave Texas a 28-24 lead with 2 minutes, 40 seconds left in the first half. On the play, he became the first Longhorn to record a receiving and rushing touchdown in the same game since Chris Warren III pulled off the feat against Kansas State in 2017.

Texas running back Tre Watson reaches across the goal line for a touchdown Saturday as West Virginia linebacker David Long Jr. holds on. [NICK WAGNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]
Watson finished the day with a team-high 80 rushing yards.

2. An icing gone wrong

In the final seconds of the first half, West Virginia attempted to cut into Texas’ four-point lead with a 44-yard field goal. West Virginia’s Evan Staley missed, but the failed try was erased when it was ruled that Texas had called a timeout just before the snap. Given a second chance, Staley nailed the attempt.

The sophomore also kicked a 45-yard field goal on Saturday.

3. Lost opportunity (and helmet)

With UT up 31-27 in the fourth quarter, Texas coach Tom Herman opted to kick a 38-yard field goal instead of leaving his offense on the field for a fourth-and-1. The Longhorns did convert a fourth-and-3 on a first-half touchdown drive. Texas came up short, though, on what ended up being the biggest fourth down of the game.

On the first possession of the second half, Texas faced a fourth-and-1 at the West Virginia 5. UT quarterback Sam Ehlinger appeared to plow his way to a first down, but his helmet came off, and he had to be replaced by Shane Buechele. UT’s backup quarterback never ran a play, however, as the officials reviewed the run and determined that Ehlinger had lost his helmet before he reached the first-down marker. The dislodged helmet, which the quarterback says was pulled off, caused the ball to be ruled dead at the 5, and West Virginia took over.

Said Herman after the game: “My understanding is that there’s got to be indisputable video evidence to overturn a call, and to be honest with you, the officials had told me the call that they made had nothing to do with the guy’s helmet. It had to do with where they thought the guy was down, and so I don’t know. … We’ve got an opportunity to go up big there, and certainly chew some more time, and it was a pivotal spot.”

4. Duvernay goes deep

West Virginia was held scoreless for the second half’s first 24 minutes, but the Mountaineers tied the game on a 13-yard run by Martell Pettaway with 5:40 remaining. Texas responded with a six-play touchdown drive that covered 78 yards in three minutes. Forty-eight of those yards came on a touchdown catch by junior Devin Duvernay, who broke free of coverage from West Virginia cornerback Josh Norwood.

The touchdown was the fifth of Duvernay’s career. The shortest of his touchdowns was the 39-yard grab against Maryland in the season opener. He has averaged 61 yards on those touchdown catches.

West Virginia quarterback Will Grier scores on a two-point conversion in the closing seconds to crush Texas’ hopes Saturday. (Nick Wagner/American-Statesman)

5. Going for the win

Duvernay scored with 2:34 left in the game, leaving West Virginia quarterback Will Grier with more than enough time to engineer a comeback. The Mountaineers marched 75 yards in seven plays, and Grier completed all four of his passes on the drive. His final throw was a 33-yard toss to Gary Jennings Jr. that was caught in the back of the end zone.

Instead of kicking the extra point, West Virginia went for the win with 16 seconds on the clock. After the two teams called three timeouts, Grier ran to his left and easily scored the two-point conversion.

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