Longhorns pull out narrow 47-40 OT victory over Mountaineers

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

In a gritty performance on the road, Texas did enough to survive and advance.

The Case McCoy Magical Moxie Tour continued just when it looked like the Texas Longhorns quarterback had run out of answers in a 47-40 overtime win over the West Virginia Mountaineers on a night when the defense came up big to help preserve and enable the victory.

It was the first overtime game for head coach Mack Brown at Texas and the first for the team since 1996. Brown joked after the game that he's never lost in extra time.

A fourth-down completion from McCoy to Jaxon Shipley helped extend the drive that tied the game late for Texas and linebacker Steve Edmond came up with consecutive huge plays in pass coverage to keep West Virginia out of the end zone in overtime after a Texas score on a third-down pass to seldom-used fullback Alex De La Torre, the first career catch for De La Torre.

Edmond came off his underneath coverage on third down to bail out a teammate who was beat inside to the back of the end zone and then bobbled and hauled in a game-winning interception on the following play to keep hopes of a Big 12 title alive with Oklahoma State coming to Austin next week for a pivotal game.

It was an immensely flawed performance from Texas with multiple turnovers, mistakes, and injuries. Some how, the defense managed to keep the West Virginia offense from scoring on two turnovers. And defensive tackle Chris Whaley left the game early with a left leg injury that would appear to imperil his senior season, while running back Johnathan Gray also left with a leg injury that initially looked like a mere cramp. Brown said that both were walking around without the aid of crutches after the game, big news for Whaley, whose leg was twisted gruesomely underneath him.

The battle of attrition also took out West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett and featured a safety, multiple long kickoff returns by West Virginia, and failures by Texas to convert in the red zone, but in the end, the ability to convert third downs in the second half with some big throws from McCoy and tough runs from Malcolm Brown was enough.

In fact, Texas started 1-of-11 on third downs in a game where both offenses struggled to stay on the field in any consistent manner, but finished 9-of-11, a critical component in the win, as McCoy began completing big passes, few bigger than a 49-yard touchdown pass down the sideline to Mike Davis on a perfectly-delivered ball just when it looked like McCoy couldn't discover the down-field accuracy that defined performances against Oklahoma and TCU.

Another throw behind defenders down the sideline just before Davis took a big hit set up another third-quarter touchdown for the Longhorns, an impressive pass enabled by better mechanics than McCoy had been showing earlier in the game.

Both teams sold out to stop the run early, as neither team found much traction in the run game. Eventually, West Virginia quarterback Paul Millard rebounded from early struggles to start picking on the soft areas in the Texas coverages and McCoy started to step into throws after struggling with some West Virginia blitz looks that forced him to move his feet.

The defensive line for the Longhorns was dominant through most of the game, with ends Cedric Reed and Jackson Jeffcoat both coming up with huge plays to create sacks and force and recover fumbles, along with the emergence of defensive tackle Desmond Jackson replacing Whaley. Jackson had multiple plays behind the line of scrimmage and came in to hit Trickett on the play that knocked the West Virginia starter out of the game.

A 72-yard touchdown pass from Millard to Mario Alford when West Virginia took the lead midway through the fourth quarter illustrated the dangers of the Cover 0 look Texas had used multiple times earlier in the game. Cornerback Duke Thomas was somewhat oddly playing off in man coverage and Alford beat him on a slant route, turning on too much speed for Thomas to catch up with him.

At other points in the game, zone blitzes continued to be highly successful for the Texas defense, helping produce a fumble early when Reed strip-sacked Trickett after cornerback Quandre Diggs applied heavy pressure.

But a three-and-out after West Virginia's score put Texas in a difficult position when the defense bent enough to allow produce one first down and take four critical minutes from the clock.

West Virginia punter Nick O'Toole's weak effort gave the Horns the ball at their own 36, but it took that fourth-down conversion from McCoy to Shipley against soft coverage inside to extend the drive before a big Malcolm Brown run bounced outside got Texas into easy field goal range.

All that allowed because McCoy had earlier finished a long drive that included an interception called back for defensive holding on a perfectly-thrown corner route to Jaxon Shipley just short of the deep pylon.

And so McCoy bailed out Mack Brown once again to continue his incredible streak of success in adverse situations.

Imperfect, but hardly hollow and just enough, Texas survived and advanced. On the road in Morgantown on a night that resembled trips to Ames on weekdays, that was all that mattered.

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