WVU rallies to take down Texas Tech

Ever since letting a lead slip away to Texas Tech a year ago at home, West Virginia has been preaching the importance of closing out a game and making plays down the stretch when it matters most.

So it only seemed appropriate that the Mountaineers were able to do just that Saturday in Lubbock to return the favor against the Red Raiders, battling back from a 34-20 deficit to win 37-34 off the leg of sophomore kicker Josh Lambert.

"They did a great job of not giving up," said West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen after the game. "There were a couple points where it didn't look very promising, so I can't give our players and our coaches enough credit for continuing to fight, continuing to believe in what we're doing."

The Mountaineers came out slow from the start, struggling to get a lot of momentum going on either side of the ball. After settling for a field goal on their first drive of the game, the Mountaineers let the Red Raiders start to take over.

Texas Tech scored touchdowns on three of its first four drives of the game, using a few big plays to help jump out to a 21-10 advantage in the first half.

"They had us frustrated early. They're getting better and better," Holgorsen said. "I told our guys we had to get out there and do a good job of starting fast and withstand their energy. They always, in the first half at some point, have a barrage of points and then let the game settle in."

And that's exactly what the Mountaineers did as the game got into the second half. Although Texas Tech kept building on its lead, getting WVU’s deficit to as many as 14 points, the West Virginia defense continued to bend and not break – forcing the Red Raiders to settle for field goals in the red zone on more than one occasion during the final two quarters of play.

A 56-yard touchdown strike from Clint Trickett to Jordan Thompson started getting the offense going and gave the Mountaineers some much-needed life as the third quarter started to wind down. Trailing by just seven points entering the final stages of the game, the Mountaineers knew they weren’t playing as well as they could have – but if they could finish, they still had plenty of time and a chance to leave Lubbock with a victory.

“We didn’t play great – I think everybody could see that,” said offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson. “It’s hard to win on the road, especially when you’re down by 14, so I’m proud of those guys. Clint didn’t have a great game, but when it mattered he came through.

“When it mattered the most, we took advantage of our chances.”

The Mountaineers cut it back to a seven-point game 26-yard touchdown pass from Tickett to Kevin White before Rushel Shell plunged into the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line to tie the game. Both of those WVU scores were followed by crucial stops by the West Virginia defense, one on a three-and-out and the other forced the Red Raiders to punt with just 52 seconds left on the clock – leaving the Mountaineers with plenty of time for to make a few quick plays and get in position for Lambert’s game-winning (and school record) 55-yard field goal as time expired.

Lambert’s second game-winner of the season came after missing a 47-yard attempt earlier in the fourth.

“You can’t dwell on it, you can’t let follow you,” Lambert said. “You have to just be able to push it out. It feels good to come back here and get a win.”

Trickett finished the game with 301 yards and two scores, completing 28 of his 44 pass attempts. Wendell Smallwood and Rushel Shell both went over the 100-yard mark, finishing the game with 123 and 110 yards, respectively, while Kevin White had his sixth consecutive 100-yard game after finishing with 13 grabs for 123 yards. Jordan Thompson also caught six passes for 109 yards.

It was the first time in school history WVU had two players run for 100 yards and two players go for more than 100 yards receiving in the same game.

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