Grier, No. 12 WVU hold on to beat No. 25 Texas Tech, 42-34
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — 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 true 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 while throwing 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.”
The 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.
West Virginia: 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.
Texas Tech: Kingsbury, a week removed from an impressive win at then-No. 15 Oklahoma State that vaulted the Red Raiders into the AP Top 25, couldn’t get that breakthrough win over a ranked opponent at home. Since beating No. 24 TCU in Kingsbury’s first year in 2013, Texas Tech has lost eight straight games to ranked visitors.
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. The Red Raiders’ stay in the rankings could be a lot like it was last year: one week with a loss to West Virginia knocking them out. Texas Tech was 24th before last season’s loss in Morgantown.
MISSING THE COMEBACK
Texas Tech got back in the game without much help from the stands since about half of the less-than-capacity crowd of 55,283 left at halftime and didn’t come back. “I would have left too if it was that poor of a performance, effort in the first half,” Kingsbury said. “I don’t blame anybody for leaving.”
A couple got married on the double-T logo at midfield during halftime and walked the aisle, also known as the 50-yard line, after the ceremony. The bride tossed her garter belt to members of the Texas Tech cheer squad, and the couple danced while the band played.
West Virginia: Kansas at home next Saturday.
Texas Tech: Open week before trip to TCU on Oct. 11.