Game Recap: Football | | John Antonik
Texas scored touchdowns on four of its first five offensive possessions to roll to a 38-20 victory over West Virginia Saturday night at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas.
Backup quarterback Hudson Card, once again playing in place of injured starter Quinn Ewers, threw three touchdown passes, two to Xavier Worthy and one to Ja’Tavion Sanders, and finished the night with 303 yards through the air.
Worthy also hooked up with Sanders for a 33-yard scoring toss on a double pass, and Bijan Robinson added a 1-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter.
The Longhorns’ four first-half scoring marches consisted of seven plays for 60 yards, six plays for 74 yards, six plays for 71 yards and six plays for 87 yards. The Mountaineer defense aided Texas’ final scoring drive of the half with two critical penalties, resulting in 30 yards.
West Virginia, which came into the game wanting to possess the football and keep Texas’ potent offense off the field, saw its first five offensive possessions account for only 75 yards. Three drops, two on third down and one on fourth down, contributed to WVU’s early offensive woes.
“We played better second in the half, but the bottom line is we didn’t make enough plays to win the game,” West Virginia coach Neal Brown said.
“It was a disappointing first half for us,” Brown added. “They took control and I felt like they won the game within the first 15 minutes.”
The Mountaineer offense finally found its bearing late in the second quarter with an 83-yard march that ended in the Longhorn end zone with 13 seconds showing on the clock. The key play was at 21-yard, JT Daniels-to-Sam James hookup on fourth and 10, which took the ball to the Texas 20.
One play after James was unable to hold on to a Daniels pass in the corner of the end zone, Daniels fired a strike to Kaden Prather in the back of the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown.
Texas (3-2, 1-1) answered on its opening possession of the third quarter when Card flipped a 44-yard touchdown pass to Worthy that should have been intercepted by Aubrey Burks. The ball went through Burks’ hands and right into the arms of Worthy before he rolled out of the back of the end zone.
West Virginia (2-3, 0-2) scored its second touchdown of the night with four seconds expired in the fourth quarter when Tony Mathis Jr. got in from the 1. That was the 18th play of a 65-yard drive that consumed 7:31 of game time. A somber moment happened during that drive when freshman running back CJ Donaldson had to be taken off the field on a cart after being tackled at the line of scrimmage on a 1-yard run.
“CJ Donaldson is at the hospital and a member of our medical team is there with him,” Brown said after the game. “He’s alert, stable, has movement in his extremities and is awaiting further testing. Obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with him. That’s scary. It’s the first time something like that has happened to me as a coach on the field and I credit our medical team. I appreciate UT’s medical team for their assistance as well.”
Texas added three more points with 10:22 remaining when Bert Auburn punched through a 45-yard field goal, making the score 38-14, Longhorns.
A Justin Johnson Jr. 4-yard touchdown run with 4:31 left reduces the Longhorn lead to 38-20. Daniels’ two-point conversion pass was unsuccessful. It was Johnson’s second rushing touchdown of the season.
Typical of how things went tonight for the Mountaineers, Prather had a perfect opportunity to recover Casey Legg’s onside kick but was unable to secure a bounding ball that bounced right into and out of his hands. The Longhorns took over at their own 36. From there, the Mountaineers got a heavy dose of Bijan Robinson, who finished with 101 yards on 21 carries.
Daniels, under constant pressure all evening, completed 29 of his 48 pass attempts for 253 yards and a touchdown. Bryce Ford Wheaton caught eight passes for 93 yards and James added seven catches for 86 yards.
Worthy, who had not had a 100-yard receiving game this season, caught seven passes for 119 yards.
“I thought the rushing game was going to be a factor and they out-rushed us and we struggled,” Brown said. “They mixed up their front and I felt like their big guys in the middle and our big guys up front was strength and against strength, and their strength won.”
Texas finished the night with 446 total yards, including 336 through the air.
A crowd of 100,740 watched tonight’s game, the second largest to ever watch a Mountaineer football game. A record 101,851 saw No. 12-ranked West Virginia defeat No. 15 Texas 48-45 at Texas Memorial Stadium on Oct. 6, 2012.
West Virginia returns to Milan Puskar Stadium to face Baylor in a Thursday night game to be televised nationally on ESPN on Oct. 13. The Bears lost 36-25 to Oklahoma State earlier today.
“It’s been a tough first five games,” Brown said. “We’ve got a beat-up crew and we’ve kind of a half of a bye week, not a real bye week, and we need some time to regroup. We’ve got to get better and we know that, but I do think we have some pieces to win games like this in our league. What we’ve got left are league games. We’ve got a chance to win them all and we’ve got a chance to lose them all. All of they are going to be tightly contested, not just for us but for everybody.”
Texas will meet Oklahoma in the annual Red River rivalry in Dallas on Saturday, Oct. 8.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism