Oct 2, 2021; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders quarterback Henry Colombi (3) throws a pass during the second quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Tech earns road win at West Virginia

Texas Tech clipped West Virginia 23-20 in Morgantown, West Virginia on Saturday, piecing together two fourth-quarter field goal drives to stave off a furious West Virginia second-half rally.

Jonathan Garibay connected on a 32-yard kick with 18 seconds left in the game to give the Red Raiders a gritty Big 12 Conference road victory. Garibay pumped a 29-yarder through the uprights early in the fourth quarter to end a stretch of 17 unanswered points by the Mountaineers, who trailed 17-0 at halftime.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12) knotted the score 20-20 on Casey Legg’s 28-yard kick with 4:34 to go in the game, the result of a 13-play drive that consumed 7:12 of the fourth-quarter clock.

Texas Tech (4-1, 1-1) started the ensuing drive at its own 16-yard-line, but a timely long bomb from Henry Colombi to Kaylon Geiger gained 42 yards and running back SaRodorick Thompson gashed the Mountaineer defense for 13- and 16-yard runs to get his team in range.

The third quarter belonged to WVU, which produced a pair of touchdowns and a field goal after struggling to move the ball in the first half. Mountaineers quarterback Jarett Doege found his groove after a rough first half to engineer the three scoring drives. Meanwhile, the Texas Tech offense was stuck in neutral with back-to-back three-and-outs.

That was an about-face from the first half when the Red Raiders played as well as they have all season on both sides of the ball. Thompson capped two drives in the first period with 1-yard touchdown runs and Texas Tech clicked on offense in the initial 30 minutes with 207 yards and 15 first downs.

The defense was also key for the Red Raiders: Colin Schooler’s strip-sack of Doege and Devin Drew’s recovery set up a short field for the second Thompson TD plunge.

Texas Tech finished off the first half with a nearly flawless 2-minute drive that culminated with the first of Garibay’s three field goals — a 33-yard boot when the field-goal unit had to sprint onto the field to beat the clock.

The Red Raiders outgained the Mountaineers 207 yards to 109 in the first half and were not called for a penalty. Columbi finished with 255 passing yards in his first start this season. He stepped in for injured starter Tyler Shough, one of six Texas Tech starters who did not make the trip. Doege finished with 318 yards of 25-of-33 passing.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Lubbock, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders defensive linebacker Riko Jeffers (6) signals in the first half in the game against the Florida International Panthers at Jones AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Tech aims for better defensive effort vs. West Virginia

Stung by tough losses to open Big 12 play, Texas Tech and West Virginia will bring entirely different strengths into their clash this Saturday in Morgantown, W.Va.

After losing at in-state rival Texas, the Red Raiders (3-1, 0-1) will be looking for any kind of semblance of a good defense against West Virginia.

In Austin last Saturday, Texas Tech fell behind by four touchdowns in the first half and could not stop the Longhorns and quarterback Casey Thompson in a 70-35 shellacking.

While Henry Colombi passed for 324 yards and three touchdowns for the visitors, the Longhorns steamrolled Texas Tech to the tune of 639 yards of total offense — 336 rushing and 303 passing.

However, Red Raiders coach Matt Wells stressed success for his whole team, not just one side of the ball, as the club hopes to win its third straight over West Virginia.

“My message to the offense was, ‘We didn’t score enough points,’ ” Wells said Sunday. “That’s the way it will always be around this place. We win as a team, we lose as a team. We lost. We should’ve scored 71.

“But there were times (on defense) we didn’t (play with tremendous effort).”

The Mountaineers (2-2, 0-1) nearly pulled off a major upset of then-No. 4 Oklahoma Saturday night in Norman, but the Sooners squeaked by on Gabe Brkic’s tiebreaking 30-yard field goal as time expired.

While the Mountaineers’ defense frustrated Heisman hopeful Spencer Rattler most of the night — he was booed repeatedly by the home crowd — the offense struggled at times.

It produced just 247 yards, including a paltry 68 on 29 carries. Jarret Doege was efficient in completing 20 of 29 passes but for just 160 yards with an interception.

Mountaineers coach Neal Brown said he would continue to use Doege and Garrett Greene (19 yards passing, 15 yards rushing) in a rotation.

“I think for where we’re at and what we need to do, it’s going to be a mixture of both,” Brown said Sunday. “It’s kind of the way I felt like it was going to be maybe going into the spring and Garrett didn’t materialize like we thought he was going to. But he’s been playing better.”

–Field Level Media

Oklahoma's Eric Gray (0) runs after  reception during a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the West Virginia Mountaineers at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.

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No. 4 Oklahoma escapes West Virginia, 16-13

Gabe Brkic hit a 30-yard field goal as time expired to help No. 4 Oklahoma escape with a 16-13 home win over West Virginia on Saturday night at Norman, Okla.

The Sooners’ offense struggled most of the night but came up big in the final four minutes, driving from their own 8 to the Mountaineers’ 12 to set up Brkic’s game-winner.

The Mountaineers were once again turned away in their quest for win No. 1 over Oklahoma since the two became conference opponents.

OU quarterback Spencer Rattler was 6 of 6 for 54 yards on the final drive, finishing 26 of 36 for 256 yards and a touchdown.

The Sooners (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) managed just 313 yards of total offense, their third-lowest total since Lincoln Riley arrived as offensive coordinator in 2015. OU managed just 57 yards on the ground.

But West Virginia’s offense struggled as well, finishing with just 226 yards, 47 on the ground.

Bryce Ford-Wheaton finished with eight catches for 93 yards for the Mountaineers (2-2, 0-1).

With just more than five minutes remaining, West Virginia was driving with a chance to take the lead.

The Mountaineers were inside the Sooners’ 30 when disaster struck for center Zach Frazier.

First, Frazier was called for an illegal snap for hesitating after beginning his snapping motion, pushing West Virginia back five yards. Then, as quarterback Jarret Doege looked to the sidelines, Frazier’s long snap whizzed past the Mountaineers’ quarterback. Doege was in a race with Oklahoma linebacker Nik Bonitto, finally beating the defender there but losing 21 yards in the process.

The Mountaineers had to punt two plays later, giving the Sooners the ball at their own 8 with 3:39 remaining.

West Virginia started the game with a 17-play drive that ate up more than nine minutes of clock, converting on third down three times and fourth down once before Garrett Greene’s 2-yard touchdown run.

The Sooners answered with a much quicker touchdown drive.

But from there, the defenses took over, with the only score the rest of the first half coming on Casey Legg’s 25-yard field goal on the final play of the half to give WVU the lead, 10-7.

The Sooners have been known for their explosive offenses under Riley. But frustration among Oklahoma fans bubbled up after West Virginia’s Jackie Mathews dove to intercept Rattler’s pass in the second quarter. As the Oklahoma offense left the field, chants of “We want Caleb” — Sooners’ true freshman backup QB Caleb Williams — filtered down from the crowd of more than 84,000.

The Sooners managed just 91 yards of total offense in the first half.

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2021; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers running back Leddie Brown (4) is tackled by Long Island Sharks safety Jerome Brooks III (6) during the second quarter at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Mountaineers rebound with 66-0 win over LIU

Jarret Doege threw three touchdown passes and Leddie Brown rushed for two scores as host West Virginia cruised to a 66-0 rout over Long Island University on Saturday.

The Mountaineers (1-1) rebounded from their disappointing season-opening loss at Maryland by dominating all facets and taking the lead 11 seconds in on Winston Wright Jr.’s 90-yard kickoff return. WVU easily improved to 22-0 against FCS opponents.

West Virginia scored the most points in any of its games against FCS foes, exceeding the 59 it hung on Delaware State in 2017.

Brown, who had three TDs last week, scored a pair of short TDs in the final six-plus minutes of the first quarter. Garrett Greene had a three-yard TD run early in the second before the Mountaineers scored the next three TDs via their passing game.

Doege completed 14-of-22 passes for 259 yards as the Mountaineers totaled 542 yards. Greene followed by completing 4-of-7 passes for 57 yards and Will Crowder finished up.

Greene also gained 98 yards on the ground to lead all rushers as West Virginia finished with 198 yards on the ground. WVU converted 9 of 15 third downs and scored 49 points in the red zone.

The Sharks (0-2), who were picked sixth in the Northeast Conference’s preseason poll, played the second of three straight games against FBS opponents and absorbed their second straight blowout loss.

LIU quarterback Camden Orth was 11 of 20 for 60 yards, and the Sharks totaled just 95 yards and converted 2 of 13 third downs.

Wright gave the Mountaineers a 7-0 lead with a dynamic kickoff return to start the game.

Brown’s two short runs in the first made it 21-0. West Virginia opened a 28-0 lead on a 3-yard run by Greene with 8:58 left and pushed the lead to 38-0 on an 18-yard TD catch by Sam James and Casey Legg’s 44-yard field goal as time expired.

Sean Ryan’s 39-yard TD made it 45-0 less than three minutes into the third and Doege connected with James for a second time to make it 52-0 with 11:16 remaining.

The lead reached 59-0 on Greene’s 13-yard TD run with 5:59 left in the third and Sparrow’s 1-yard run made it 66-0 with 5:25 remaining in the fourth.

–Field Level Media

Sep 4, 2021; College Park, Maryland, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Neal Brown talks to the media after a loss to the Maryland Terrapins at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

West Virginia looks for consistent effort vs. Long Island

When West Virginia scored on three of its first four possessions last week against Maryland, it appeared poised for a productive performance with an offense that featured some nice individual efforts.

It did not continue after halftime, however.

The Mountaineers (0-1) hope the offense is more consistent Saturday in their home opener against FCS foe Long Island in Morgantown, W. Va.

West Virginia returns home after some mixed results in its 30-24 season-opening setback to Maryland. Leddie Brown scored three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) and Winston Wright set a school record with 217 yards in kickoff returns.

Those individual performances were negated by a rough showing from quarterback Jarret Doege, who threw two interceptions. West Virginia allowed 13 points off four turnovers.

The individual performances were also negated by a defense that allowed 332 of its 496 yards through the air and a rushing offense held to 48 yards.

“I still have extreme faith that we’re going to prevail and we’re going to build a program here that’s going to have great infrastructure and be set up to win long term,” Mountaineers coach Neal Brown said. “But I’m also not blind to what our brutal facts are right now. And that’s that we’re 0-1 and we didn’t play very well.”

“Our brutal reality is that we’re 0-1 in which we were soundly defeated. Offensively, we had three turnovers. We didn’t play physical enough upfront. We weren’t consistent enough at quarterback. Defensively, we didn’t play to the standard that we’ve created here over the last year and a half.”

West Virginia is facing Long Island, which competes in the Northeast Conference, before tangling with Virginia Tech and Oklahoma in its next two games.

The Sharks (0-1) were picked for sixth in the NEC’s preseason poll in their first season under Jonathan Gill, who is the school’s first new coach since 1998. Gill, who replaced Bryan Collins, saw LIU allow 594 yards in a 48-10 loss to Florida International last week.

Quarterback Camden Orth completed 15 of 30 passes for 197 yards as the Sharks began a stretch of three straight games against FBS teams.

“They’re a good team and they play in a Power 5 conference,” LIU wide receiver Derick Eugene said. “So it’s going to be fun to go out there and compete with guys that are at the top level of the NCAA.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2020; Memphis, TN, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Jarret Doege (2) warms up before the game against the Army Black Knights  at Liberty Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

West Virginia searching for road success at Maryland

If West Virginia is to open the 2021 season on a positive note, it must find a way to win on the road, something the Mountaineers could not do in 2020.

And they will have to stop a potentially potent Maryland offense in the process.

The Mountaineers look to avoid a fifth consecutive true road defeat on Saturday against the Terrapins at College Park, Md.

West Virginia went 6-4 last season, falling on the road every time. The Mountaineers outscored their opponents 182-65 while going 5-0 at home, but owned a 120-59 scoring disadvantage during those four away contests — all inside the Big 12 and against three ranked opponents.

Still, the Mountaineers have reason to feel confident with 17 starters back from last season. That includes quarterback Jarret Doege (7,446 career passing yards, 60 touchdowns, 22 interceptions in 33 games), running back Leddie Brown (1,010 rushing yards, nine touchdowns in 2020) and defensive tackle Dante Stills (13 career sacks).

“I like our team,” West Virginia coach Neal Brown said. “We’ve got to continue to get better. We’ve got a lot of things to clean up.

“I don’t know of any coach who has ever said they were pleased with where they are at.”

The Mountaineers yielded 20.5 points per game last season. They face a Maryland offense that returns 85 percent of its contributors from a group that showed offensive promise at times — combining for 80 points versus Penn State and Minnesota — during its condensed 2-3 2020 season.

Alabama transfer Taulia Tagovailoa is once again the focal point for the Terps after throwing for 1,011 yards with seven touchdowns, but also seven interceptions, in his first season at Maryland. Meanwhile, receivers Dontay Demus and Rakim Jarrett could make for a potentially explosive pair after combining for 41 receptions, 617 yards and six touchdowns in 2020.

Defensively, Maryland safety Nick Cross has recorded 68 career tackles and three interceptions in two seasons.

“It’s time for us to take the next step as a program,” said Maryland coach Mike Locksley, aiming for the program’s first bowl appearance since 2016.

“It’s time for us to stop talking about potential and actually go out and do it.”

West Virginia has won nine of the last 10 meetings versus Maryland, although they last met in 2015.

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2020; Memphis, TN, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Neal Brown during the first half against the Army Black Knights  at Liberty Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

West Virginia gives coach Neal Brown 2-year extension

West Virginia and Neal Brown have agreed on a contract extension that will keep the head coach in Morgantown through the 2026 season, the school announced Thursday.

Brown, 41, had four years remaining on his original deal. In total, the six-year contract is worth $23.85 million with an average yearly salary of $3.975 million.

“Coach Brown and I are committed to the future success of our football program,” West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons said in a statement. “I am pleased with the upward trajectory of the program and its culture. Our student-athletes have excelled on the field and in the classroom, and the overall leadership of Mountaineer football is strong.”

The salary commitment to Brown’s coaching staff also was increased.

Brown has led the Mountaineers to an 11-11 record in his first two seasons and a Liberty Bowl win after the 2020 season. Brown replaced Dana Holgorsen in 2019 after compiling a 35-16 record in four years at Troy.

–Field Level Media

Nov 14, 2020; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers safety Tykee Smith (23) celebrates after defeating the TCU Horned Frogs at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia adds former Mountaineers DB Tykee Smith

Former West Virginia starting defensive back Tykee Smith is looking forward to the next step of his collegiate career.

“Same Mission, Next Chapter,” Smith posted Sunday night on Twitter. He accompanied a picture that showed him wearing a Georgia helmet and uniform.

The Bulldogs confirmed on Twitter that Smith is the newest member of the team.

Smith, who will have two years of eligibility remaining, will see a familiar face when he joins Georgia. Former Mountaineers defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae was hired by the Bulldogs in January.

“(Addae) had a huge impact, but he wasn’t even the first one to reach out to me from the staff. (Defensive coordinator Dan) Lanning was the first one, and then Coach Kirby (Smart),” Smith said, per UGASports.com. “We’ve been in touch a lot.”

Smith recorded 61 tackles, two interceptions and seven pass deflections in 10 games last season with West Virginia.

–Field Level Media

Dec 19, 2020; West Point, New York, USA; Army Black Knights quarterback Christian Anderson (4) runs with the ball against the Air Force Falcons during the second half at Michie Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Army rushes to step in, will face West Virginia in Liberty Bowl

When West Virginia coach Neil Brown gathered his coaches and players for practice on Dec. 21, they were preparing for a Liberty Bowl matchup with Tennessee on New Year’s Eve in Memphis.

Then 2020 intervened.

“We started the day preparing for one opponent and will end it preparing for another, but that’s how crazy 2020 has been,” Brown said.

Tennessee pulled out of the bowl game after coach Jeremy Pruitt and multiple players tested positive for COVID-19. Luckily enough for the Liberty Bowl, it had a better team ready to step in.

Army went from being an outrageous snub to being an attractive catch at 9-2. The Commander-in-Chief trophy winners after a 10-7 defeat of Air Force on Dec. 19, the Black Knights were originally ticketed for the Independence Bowl after winning their sixth game on Oct. 24.

But when the Shreveport-based bowl had to cancel because so many prospective opponents opted out, it left Army in a lurch not of its own making.

Coach Jeff Monken made it clear that he thought his team was getting the short end of the stick, and aside from a handful of ESPN talking heads who had no trouble lugging the Power 5 conferences’ water while leaving Group of 5 schools parched, Monken was preaching to the choir.

As the old saying goes, better late than never. The Knights have their bowl bid, and West Virginia (5-4) has a new, more formidable opponent.

“I have great respect for the Army football tradition and the sacrifice the cadets make daily for our country,” Brown said. “Coach Monken and his staff have done a great job at West Point.”

The Knights own 43 wins in the last five years under Monken, a disciple of former Navy and Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson.

Much like Johnson, Monken believes in triple-option football, a staple at the military academies for most of the last 30 years.

Army finished fourth in the nation this year in rushing, averaging 281.3 yards per game despite having only one player rush for more than 500 yards. But it had four players between 401 and 502 yards, a testament to the balance it possesses.

Most importantly, the Knights played excellent defense, permitting just 14 points per game. Nearly a fourth of their allowance came in a 38-12 loss last month at Tulane. Their other loss was to Cincinnati, 24-10, in September. Cincinnati is now 9-0 and ranked No. 8 in the CFP poll.

“This is going to be a tremendous challenge for us to have any opportunity to win the game,” Monken said. “It’s exciting for our players. They came here to play big-time football against top-level opponents, and I’m glad they have the opportunity to play one in West Virginia.”

The Mountaineers could have easily been 7-2 were it not for one-possession losses at Texas Tech (34-27) and Texas (17-13) in a three-week span. Their final regular-season game with Oklahoma was canceled because of COVID-19 concerns.

West Virginia’s offense is led by Jarret Doege (2,428 yards, 13 TD passes) and Leddie Brown (945 rushing yards, nine TDs).

This will mark the first time the programs have met in 59 years. Army leads the series 2-1.

–Field Level Media

Oct 19, 2019; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley (left) greets West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Neal Brown after the game at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

West Virginia-No. 11 Oklahoma canceled; MAC game nixed

West Virginia has paused all football activities — forcing the cancellation of Saturday’s game against No. 11 Oklahoma — for the next seven days due to a surge in positive tests for COVID-19 and contact tracing, the school announced Thursday.

“Our intent is to get this spread under control as soon as possible for the health and safety of all involved,” West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons said in a statement. “We are beyond disappointed not to play our final home game of the season and honor our seniors, but we need to act now and reevaluate our situation after Dec. 17.”

The Mountaineers (5-4, 4-4 Big 12) were scheduled to host the Sooners (7-2, 6-2) on Saturday. Oklahoma is slated to play Iowa State on Dec. 19 in the Big 12 championship game in Arlington, Texas.

Also Thursday, the Mid-American Conference announced the cancellation of Saturday’s game between Miami (Ohio) and Bowling Green due to COVID-19 issues and contact tracing within the Miami program. The game has been declared a no contest, per the MAC.

Also postponed or canceled from Saturday’s schedule: Michigan at No. 4 Ohio State, Purdue at No. 12 Indiana, No. 8 Cincinnati at No. 24 Tulsa, and Ole Miss at No. 5 Texas A&M.

–Field Level Media