BEVO BEAT Football

Heartbreak at home: Late 2-point gamble pays off for West Virginia; Texas falls 42-41

Posted November 3rd, 2018


It’s all over at Royal-Memorial Stadium. No. 17 Texas, which was a 1 1/2-point favorite today, has fallen to No. 13 West Virginia, 42-41.

What a game. Back-and-forth. Big plays here, big stops there. Long field goals. Big pass plays. A player ejection. Several fourth-down gambles.



But it all came down to a gutsy decision by West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen to go for a 2-point conversion with 16 seconds left — and an inside track to the Big 12 title game.

On it, the Mountaineers lined up four receivers to the left, one to the right. But right before the snap, Texas called time out. The Horns wanted to see what WVU was up to.

So, after the time out, the Mountaineers this time lined up four receivers to the right, one to the left. The one to the left was David Sills V and he was being covered man-to-man by freshman cornerback Anthony Cook.

Will Grier connected with Sills on a slant.

However, Texas had called its last time out just before the snap.

So, after that time out, Grier this time kept it and ran it in untouched for the 42-41 victory.

It was that kind of day.

Texas’ path to the Big 12 championship game is no longer in the Longhorns’ hands. Texas, which has beaten Oklahoma and lost to West Virginia, will likely need the Mountaineers to beat the Sooners in Morgantown the day after Thanksgiving.

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

Third quarter (Texas 31, WVU 27)

Texas: Dicker 22-yard field goal, 2:55

Fourth quarter (Final — West Virginia 42, Texas 41)

Texas: Dicker 38-yard field goal, 9:38

WVU: Pettaway 13-yard run (Staley kick, 5:40)

Texas: Devin Duvernay 48-yard pass from Ehlinger (Dicker kick, 2:34)

WVU: Gary Jennings 33-yard pass from Grier (Grier run, :16)

Texas wide receiver Collin Johnson (9) stiff arms West Virginia safety Toyous Avery Jr. (3) during an NCAA college football game in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. [NICK WAGNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

The most important moments

Go for 2: Obviously, Grier’s 2-point keeper was THE moment of the game.

The mysterious case of Sam Ehlinger’s helmet: On the opening drive of the third quarter, Herman decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 at WVU’s 5. Ehlinger kept it and gained … 1 yard. Officials measured it, and it was ruled a first down. Ehlinger’s helmet came off on the play, though, and by rule he had to leave the field for one down. Shane Buechele trotted on for a first-and-goal snap. The play was reviewed, presumably to get the spot right.

But after a lengthy review, it was ruled that the play was dead at the moment Ehlinger’s helmet came off. That was at WVU’s 5.

The sellout crowd voiced its displeasure, but the Mountaineers took over at the 5.

The Mountaineers ended up having to punt, but that play ended up likely costing Texas 7 points.

Fourth-down karma: On the final play of the third quarter, WVU went for it on fourth-and-1 at Texas’ 20. Joseph Ossai stopped Kennedy McCoy for no gain. The Horns took over at their own 20, leading 31-27. WVU’s kicker, by the way, had already booted field goals of 45 and 44 yards.

West Virginia wide receiver David Sills V (13) runs around Texas defensive back Josh Thompson (29) during an NCAA college football game in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. [NICK WAGNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]
One play, two big moments: Sills burned Caden Sterns for a 60-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter — 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 only the second time a Horns Down has resulted in a penalty (Texas Tech’s T.J. Vasher, last year). Maybe it was because Sills gave fans a double-fisted HD.

Ejection dejection: On the very next play after Sills’ touchdown — the extra point — WVU lost its starting left tackle. Yodny Cajuste, a preseason all-Big 12 pick, was ejected for shoving a Texas player on the line of scrimmage. The Mountaineers went the rest of the way with Kelby Wickline, a redshirt junior — and son of former Longhorns offensive line coach Joe Wickline, who’s now on Dana Holgorsen’s staff.

Go for it: In the second quarter, Collin Johnson’s 45-yard touchdown catch was called back because of a pick penalty on Humphrey. The Horns still ended up scoring on the drive, however, thanks to a gutsy fourth-and-3 conversion from WVU’s 43-yard line, with UT trailing 17-14 with 11 minutes left in the half. Ehlinger found Johnson in single coverage on the right side for 26 yards, setting up a Watson touchdown.

Don’t go for it: Texas, up 31-27, made it to WVU’s 19-yard line with 12 minutes left in the game. But an Elijah Rodriguez holding penalty negated the Tre Watson run, making it first-and-20 back at the 40. A 14-yard Ehlinger scramble on third-and-15 made it fourth-and-1 at the 21. This time, however, Herman settled for the field goal.

Was that all coaching binder? Or lingering thoughts from Texas’ previous drive, when the Horns gave it up on fourth-and-1 from WVU’s 5 on the Ehlinger helmet mishap?

Either way, at the end of the game, that particular decision to settle for 3 instead of keeping a drive alive for 7 loomed large in a 1-point loss.


  • The defense suffered two significant injures: Starting cornerback Davante Davis left with a shoulder injury on WVU’s opening drive. He was replaced by Josh Thompson and Anthony Cook saw more snaps as well. And starting linebacker Breckyn Hager left on WVU’s second drive. Looked like a shoulder injury.

Neither Davis nor Hager returned.

  • Kris Boyd had a nice bounce-back game after his disaster in Stillwater. In the first quarter, he broke up a Grier-to-Stills shot toward the end zone. West Virginia still ended up scoring, but the Boyd breakup happened on a route similar to the one that he got burned on last week when he mistimed his jump on a 36-yard touchdown to Taylan Wallace.

Boyd registered another breakup late in the first quarter, this one on a big hit just as the pass arrived. And he had a huge breakup with 7:18 left, taking away what would’ve been a 43-yard touchdown catch by Sills.

  • The Mountaineers kicked a field goal on their first drive. That means UT opponents have now scored on seven of the nine games this season. Five of them have been touchdowns, two have been field goals.

Next up for Texas

The Longhorns travel to Lubbock next Saturday, but a kickoff time for Texas-Texas Tech hasn’t yet been announced. The Big 12 likely will wait until after tonight’s Tech-OU game.

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