West Virginia’s hot start dooms Texas Tech
LUBBOCK, Texas — Will Grier sparked a 28-point first quarter for No. 12 West Virginia. Keith Washington ended any concern over a second-half collapse.
Grier threw for 370 yards with three touchdowns, Washington returned an interception 51 yards for what amounted to a clinching score and the Mountaineers held on for a 42-34 win over 25th-ranked Texas Tech on Saturday.
“I focused all week on starting fast,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “I guess I forgot to tell them there was a second half.”
Marcus Simms had nine catches for a career-high 138 yards — all in the first half — for his third straight 100-yard game. The Mountaineers (4-0, 2-0 Big 12) had 382 yards at halftime while building a 35-10 lead.
Texas Tech freshman Alan Bowman, the nation’s leading passer coming in, didn’t return after getting injured in the first half when he was sandwiched on hits by Ezekiel Rose and Washington as he threw a pass. There was no update on his status.
Sophomore Jett Duffey had his first career touchdown pass and TD run filling in for Bowman and had the Red Raiders (3-2, 1-1) driving for a potential tying score when Washington made a leaping grab and cut toward the middle of the field on the return for a 42-27 lead.
It was the second interception for Duffey, who threw for 172 yards and ran for 86. Bowman was intercepted once and threw a touchdown pass.
“The way we played in that first half is as bad as you can play,” Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “We fought, and we didn’t give up, which is what you want to see. But it’s not good enough.”
Heisman Trophy hopeful Grier had 198 yards passing in the first quarter with a 13-yard scoring toss to Gary Jennings and a 45-yarder to Simms for a 21-0 lead.
Kennedy McKoy capped the quarter with a 38-yard touchdown run with 4 seconds left to put the Mountaineers up 28-7. McKoy had 77 yards on 11 carries.
Grier finished 27 of 41 leading a turnover-free West Virginia offense, but the Mountaineers had just 107 yards after halftime.
“Absolutely a letdown,” Grier said. “It’s going to need to be corrected going forward.”
Duffey kept one drive alive with a 27-yard run on fourth-and-9 when he avoided three rushers on a blitz and cut inside another defender on the sideline when he was still short of the first down.
The Red Raiders pulled within eight when Duffey scored on a 3-yard run. The touchdown was set up by a 35-yard catch by Antoine Wesley, who made the grab after the ball bounced off Washington. Wesley had 110 yards receiving with a touchdown, and Ja’Deion High added 105.
The Mountaineers missed a chance to put away the Red Raiders early and cruise to an easy road win. Grier overthrew two open receivers on deep balls near the goal line, including one on fourth down. David Sills V had a third-down drop late in the third quarter that let Texas Tech keep the momentum after a touchdown drive.
The Mountaineers could be headed into the top 10 for the first time since 2012, when they reached No. 5 after a 5-0 start before a loss in Lubbock started a five-game skid that led to a 7-6 finish.