A back-and-forth slugfest dominated Saturday's matchup between Texas Tech and West Virginia at Mountaineer Field with both teams swapping the lead throughout the contest.
But unfortunately for the Mountaineers, the Red Raiders proved to be too much. Showcasing flashes of brilliance on offense, West Virginia hung with and even led their 16-ranked foe for a portion of the contest, only to fall in the end 37-27.
After struggling to keep the hot Baylor offense at bay, the Mountaineer's defense stepped up to the plate on the opening series, forcing the Red Raiders to punt just past midfield. The Mountaineers took advantage of off-target passes from Texas Tech's Davis Webb, with Darwin Cook letting an interception slip through his fingers on the first pass attempt.
Once West Virginia took the ball over for their opening drive, the quarterback questions heading into the contest were answered. Clint Trickett took to the field for his third start of the season, opening up the contest with a quick three and out. A pair of off-target passes highlighted Trickett's opener, who appeared to struggle mightily with accuracy early in the game.
Heading into this week's game much of the focus for the West Virginia defense centered around defending Jace Amaro. The Texas Tech tight end, who scorched the Mountaineers last season in Lubbock for 156 yards and a touchdown, had been a focal point for Kliff Kingsbury's offense 2013 and it was expected to continue in Morgantown.
And Amaro would prove his worth early for the Red Raiders, getting loose on a third-and-goal wheel route for the easy touchdown reception. The score gave Texas Tech an early 7-0 lead.
The Mountaineers would attempt to heat up their own offensive weapon on the ensuing drive, running the offense through Charles Sims. The senior running back carried the rock on three consecutive plays, breaking through for an 18-yard gain on his most successful attempt.
However, the senior back would cough up the football deep in Red Raider territory where it was recovered by Texas Tech's Pete Robinson, ending what appeared to be a promising Mountaineer drive.
Meanwhile, the Red Raiders continued to showcase its high-powered offense, backed by the arm of Webb. Tempoing the Mountaineers up and down the field, Webb led Texas Tech back into the red zone in short order following the turnover.
On this drive, however, the West Virginia defense responded once backed up in the shadow of their goal line. The Mountaineers managed to pressure the elusive Webb, forcing a throwaway on third down and bringing out Texas Tech kicker Ryan Bustin for the chip shot field goal. The kick extended the Red Raider's lead to 10-0 midway through the first quarter.
Although a turnover ended the Mountaineer's successful drive last time out, the offense did not let the fumble get in their heads. Led by a key third down run by Trickett off broken coverage, the offense methodically moved the ball down the field and into Red Raider territory.
But a personal foul following a positive play backed the Mountaineers out of the red zone, and with play calling heavily tilted towards the run it appeared Dana Holgorsen was playing for a field goal.
However, in a shocking move Holgorsen left his offense on the field on fourth-and-14 from the 26. The gamble, however, would not pay off stalling the drive at said location.
After the controversial fourth down attempt, the Mountaineers appeared to play frustrated football on defense, allowing the Red Raiders to continue moving the ball. But again, the West Virginia defense stepped up on third down in the red zone, stopping Tech running back Kenny Williams behind the line and forcing another field goal. The kick connected, giving the Red Raiders a 13-0 advantage.
On the ensuing drive Holgorsen appeared to learn his lesson following the previous fourth down attempt. After driving the ball deep into Red Raider territory, the Mountaineers failed to convert on third down in the red zone, sending Josh Lambert out for the 33-yard attempt. The freshman would connect, cutting into the Red Raider's lead slightly, 13-3.
Meanwhile, the Texas Tech offense continued to burn through yards on the field, but struggled once they reach the red zone. On second-and-10 from the 13 Mayfield found a hole up the middle and scrambled to the one. However, a huge hit from Isaiah Bruce knocked the ball loose before he could cross the goal line where the Mountaineers would recover. The turnover gave West Virginia the ball with just under six minutes remaining in the half.
99-yards later, the Mountaineers would finally find pay dirt behind the legs of Dreamius Smith. Aided by a big 40-yard reception by Kevin White on third-and-long earlier in the drive, the Mountaineers pushed the ball yet again into Tech territory. From there, Smith would take a counter 38-yards for the touchdown, cutting into the Red Raider's lead at 13-10.
The Mountaineers would parlay the momentum of a 99-yard drive into a crucial turnover on the following kickoff. A bit hit by freshman Brandon Napoleon on the Texas Tech returner forced a fumble, giving the Mountaineers the ball back at Tech's 17-yard line.
However, the offense would fail to find the end zone, settling instead for a game-tying field goal heading into the half.
West Virginia received the ball to open up the second half and it would not take them long to get back in an offensive rhythm. Utilizing tempo at times, the Mountaineers put together a methodical drive, going 74-yards in 13 plays, ending with a short dump off pass to Sims for the touchdown. The score gave West Virginia its first lead of the game, putting the Mountaineers up 20-13.
After the defense held Texas Tech to a field goal, the Mountaineer offense returned to the field holding a 20-16 lead. Starting at their own 28-yard line, and aided by a number of Texas Tech penalties, the Mountaineers would put together a key seven play, 72-yard drive ending with a 12-yard scamper by Smith for the touchdown. The score extended West Virginia's lead to two possessions, putting them up top 27-16.
The Red Raiders would continue the offensive explosion by both teams on the ensuing drive with Williams punching the ball in from the one-yard line. The score cut into Texas Tech's deficit, with West Virginia continuing to hold a 27-23 lead.
After a streak of punts by both squads, the Red Raiders broke the drought, going 84-yards in seven plays, ending with a one-yard Williams touchdown. The score put Texas Tech back on top, 30-27.
The Red Raiders would put another seven points on the board with an Amaro touchdown reception to seal the victory.
Final Score: Texas Tech 37, West Virginia 27.
The loss drops the Mountaineers to 3-4 on the season.
The Mountaineers will return to action next Saturday as West Virginia travels to Kansas State. Kickoff is set for 3:45pm.