Will Grier threw four of his five touchdown passes in the second half and West Virginia overcame an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat No. 24 Texas Tech 46-35 on Saturday.
West Virginia (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) beat a ranked opponent for the first time in 10 tries. The Mountaineers dropped close games earlier this season to No. 6 TCU and No. 15 Virginia Tech.
“Things weren’t going great,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. “Our guys were just fighting and kept hanging in there. We finished for the first time this year in a close game.”
Nic Shimonek threw four first-half TD passes for Texas Tech, but the Red Raiders (4-2, 1-2) got little going after halftime and made plenty of mistakes to enable the Mountaineers to mount their comeback.
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Ka'Raun White had fourth-quarter TD catches of 32 and 17 yards to give the Mountaineers their first lead, and Grier capped the scoring with an 11-yard pass to Sills with 3:23 left.
Sills also had scoring catches of 13 and 8 yards to boost his national-leading total to 12 this season. Grier completed 32 of 41 passes for 352 yards.
White’s brother, Kyzir White, intercepted Shimonek on Texas Tech’s next drive to dash the Red Raiders’ hopes.
It was Shimonek who looked unstoppable at the start of the game. He threw TDs on four of Texas Tech’s first five possessions, including strikes of 60 and 53 yards to T.J. Vasher. The Red Raiders’ Dominic Panazzolo converted a fake punt for a first down to set up one of Vasher’s long scores, and Texas Tech led 28-17 at halftime. Tre King’s 30-yard TD run put Tech Tech ahead 35-17 early in the third quarter.
Shimonek went 24 of 39 for 323 yards.
“Until late I felt like everybody was playing at a high level,” said Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury. “We’ve just got to execute better against a good team like that on the road. You knew they’d make a run and we weren’t ready for it.”
The Mountaineers were limited to 44 rushing yards, which put pressure on Grier to get them out of several third-and-long situations. Big 12 rushing leader Justin Crawford was held to 47 yards on 14 carries.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders, whose regular kicker Clayton Hatfield did not make the trip, missed three field goals and were flagged 16 times for 159 yards, including three pass interference calls on the same third-quarter touchdown drive for West Virginia that shifted the momentum.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers were held under 500 yards of offense for the first time this season but they made their yards count. It marked the second-biggest comeback in the fourth quarter for West Virginia since its stadium opened in 1980. West Virginia overcame a 19-point deficit to beat Maryland in 1992.
Texas Tech will fall out of The AP Top 25 , while West Virginia, which fell out a week ago after the loss at TCU , could sneak back in.
Texas Tech: Hosts Iowa State next Saturday.
West Virginia: Plays at Baylor next Saturday.
TT—Vasher 60 pass from Shimonek (Barden kick), 12:53
WVU—D.Sills 31 pass from Grier (Molina kick), 12:07
TT—Cantrell 6 pass from Shimonek (Barden kick), 7:58
WVU—FG Molina 43, 3:55
TT—Coutee 6 pass from Shimonek (Barden kick), 10:58
WVU—Crawford 5 run (Molina kick), 7:44
TT—Vasher 53 pass from Shimonek (Barden kick), 5:35
TT—King 30 run (Barden kick), 9:11
WVU—D.Sills 8 pass from Grier (Molina kick), 5:07
WVU—Ka.White 32 pass from Grier (D.Sills pass from Grier), 13:03
WVU—Ka.White 17 pass from Grier (Molina kick), 9:14
WVU—D.Sills 11 pass from Grier (Molina kick), 3:23
Time of Possession
RUSHING—Texas Tech, Stockton 15-96, King 8-67, Panazzolo 1-13, Batson 2-12, Nisby 2-1, Shimonek 5-1. West Virginia, Crawford 14-47, McKoy 7-35, (Team) 1-(minus 2), Grier 7-(minus 36).
PASSING—Texas Tech, Shimonek 24-39-1-323. West Virginia, Grier 32-41-1-352.
RECEIVING—Texas Tech, Cantrell 8-85, Coutee 6-86, Stockton 3-18, Vasher 2-113, King 2-7, Felton 1-12, Shorts 1-4, Batson 1-(minus 2). West Virginia, Jennings 9-68, Ka.White 8-114, D.Sills 6-89, Simms 6-72, Crawford 2-6, Wellman 1-3.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—Texas Tech, Barden 43, Barden 23, Barden 37.