Both Texas and West Virginia had first-and-goals from the 5-yard-line in overtime, but only the Longhorns came away with points. After two runs netted just three yards, the Longhorns dialed up a play-action pass to the flat to fullback Alex De La Torre. Case McCoy hit De La Torre for the two-yard score.
That set up West Virginia's overtime possession. A 20-yard end around to Mario Alford set up a first-and-goal at the 5. Texas then stuffed Charles Sims for one yard on first down, then quarterback Paul Millard — playing for the injured Clint Trickett, whom the Longhorns knocked out of the game — couldn't connect with Jordan Thompson. Millard appeared to have Kevin White in the back of the end zone on third down, but linebacker Steve Edmond reached his long arm up and pawed the ball away.
On the fourth down play, Edmond again broke up the pass, this time picking off Millard's attempt.
"We were very fortunate and came up big," said Texas coach Mack Brown. "We had two really good plays. We got the third down and then got the next one. I've never been in an overtime fight like this. It was special. This was big time. This was great."
The game had a strange early start for the Longhorns, with West Virginia blocking Anthony Fera's first punt for a safety, then forcing turnovers on the next two Texas drives. The result was that the Mountaineers jumped out to a quick 9-0 lead.
Despite the early disadvantage, the Texas defense looked unbeatable early, stuffing the run and hounding West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett into a 2-of-4 start while driving him into the turf. Near the end of the first quarter, Tricket was sacked by defensive tackle Desmond Jackson, and laid on the ground for an extended period of time. He walked off the field, but didn't return.
After Millard took over for Trickett, he missed his first five throws, bouncing a few relatively easy throws. And he missed his final three passes in overtime. But in-between, he was outstanding, hitting on 16-of-24 passes (66.7 percent) for 259 yards and a touchdown. More importantly, he got the ball out of his hands quickly, helping to neutralize a Texas pass rush that racked up six sacks in the first half, four on Trickett in the first quarter.
"When one of us gets a sack, that means the other guys are doing their job," said defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat. "We just knew we had to put pressure on these guys and disrupt them. That's what we have to do as a defensive line and as a defense."
In a back-and-forth contest, Millard helped push West Virginia to a 26-16 lead in the third quarter, but Texas seemed to wrest control of the game by the time that same quarter ended. First, McCoy connected with Mike Davis for a 49-yard score. Then, after the Texas defense forced a quick three-and-out, the Longhorns drove 67 yards in seven plays, boosted by a 29-yard pass down the sideline from McCoy to Davis and capped off by Joe Bergeron's eight-yard touchdown run.
Millard wasn't finished. On a third-and-5 to start the fourth quarter, Millard hit White for a 31-yard gain. Three plays later, Dreamius Smith ran in from eight yards out. After Texas re-took the lead on a brilliant catch from Jaxon Shipley, Millard again hit a huge third down pass, hitting Alford for a 72-yard catch-and-run touchdown on a third-and-7.
The two teams then traded punts, giving Texas the ball at the 36 with 2:35 left in the game. Six plays later, Texas faced a fourth-and-7 from the West Virginia 47 with 59 seconds remaining. McCoy threw to Shipley for a nine-yard gain to keep the drive going. On the next play, Texas called a run, with Malcolm Brown breaking a 27-yard gain to the West Virginia 11 into field goal range. Texas couldn't find the end zone on its next three plays, so Fera booted through a 24-yard field goal with 13 seconds left to save the game into overtime.
The field goal was Fera's fourth of the game, a nice showing for the same kicker who missed a fourth quarter field goal in Texas's three-point loss to West Virginia a season ago.
The win, which continued Texas's six-game undefeated run through the Big 12, might not have come without cost. Early on, senior defensive tackle Chris Whaley suffered a knee injury, and he didn't return. And sophomore running back Johnathan Gray, in the middle of an eight-carry, 56-yard day, had what appeared to be a calf injury and resurfaced on the field on crutches while wearing a walking boot. Long-term prognosis for either player is unclear.
McCoy finished 27-of-49 for 283 yards and three touchdowns to an interception. Shipley caught seven of those passes for 82 yards and his first touchdown of the season. Davis had three catches for 91 yards and a score. Brown rushed for 89 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries.
"I thought we were playing very well [on offense] for a long period of time," Coach Brown said. "I give them credit, they did some things great. We made a mistake or two, but at the same time they were challenging us. We were working hard to adjust and keep on moving. The offense overshot in the fourth quarter and I'm just glad we made it to overtime."
Sims was the top usage guy for West Virginia, rushing 24 times for 93 yards and three touchdowns, while catching five passes for another 42 yards. Alford had four catches for 97 yards, one rush for 20 yards and had a 43-yard kickoff return that set up the Mountaineers' first score. White caught five passes for 89 yards.
"You know the saying, 'When you give them the ball too often, you're going to get in trouble?' And clearly that happened to us," Brown said of the defense. "We were trying to do what we could do to get the job done."
West Virginia fell to 4-6 and 2-5 in the Big 12. Texas has won six straight since opening the year 1-2, and the Longhorns sit at 7-2 and 6-0 in the league.
The Longhorns won't leave the state again this regular season, hosting Oklahoma State next at 2:30 p.m. next Saturday before Texas Tech comes to town on Thanksgiving. And the Longhorns close out the year by traveling just up the road to Waco to take on Baylor.
West Virginia — TEAM safety, 12:11 1Q
WVU — Charles Sims 3 run (Josh Lambert kick), 9:38 1Q
TEXAS — Anthony Fera 37 FG, 1:02 1Q
TEXAS — Malcolm Brown 2 run (Fera kick), 10:48 2Q
WVU — Sims 6 run (Lambert kick), 7:24 2Q
TEXAS — Fera 25 FG, 4:56 2Q
WVU — Lambert 30 FG, 0:00 2Q
TEXAS — Fera 29 FG, 10:19 3Q
WVU — Sims 1 run (Lambert kick), 7:34 3Q
TEXAS — Mike Davis 49 pass from Case McCoy (Fera kick), 4:15 3Q
TEXAS — Joe Bergeron 8 run (Fera kick), 0:16 3Q
WVU — Dreamius Smith 8 run (Lambert kick), 14:01 4Q
TEXAS — Jaxon Shipley 10 pass from McCoy (Fera kick), 8:57 4Q
WVU — Mario Alford 72 pass from Paul Millard (Lambert kick), 7:39 4Q
TEXAS — Fera 24 FG, 0:13 4Q
TEXAS — Alex De La Torre 2 pass from McCoy (Fera kick), OT