A big 65-yard touchdown run by emerging Texas Longhorns sophomore running back D'Onta Foreman couldn't make up for too many mistakes and a back-breaking 53-yard touchdown pass by the West Virginia Mountaineers just before halftime. The play marked the second time that West Virginia converted a fumble into a touchdown and it allowed the home team to take a 21-10 lead into halftime in Morgantown.
There were stretches of good execution on offense and defense by the visiting team, but the overall sum of the effort didn't match that success because of big mistakes.
Freshman right tackle Connor Williams got caught with a little extra, unnecessary tug that drew a flag on a would-be touchdown run by redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard on the first Texas possession. When the Horns had to settle for a field goal, it cost the team four points.
Then, a botched exchange between Heard and sophomore running back D'Onta Foreman squirted free from a pile and West Virginia linebacker Jared Barber returned it 42 yards for a touchdown and 11-point swing.
So even though the Longhorns managed to score first, a blow that has determined which team would win in 21 of 22 games during the Charlie Strong era, there wasn't much time to feel good about that stat with so many costly gaffes and critical penalties. In all, Texas had five penalties for 39 yards in the first half.
Late in the half, a drive led by some tough running from junior quarterback Tyrone Swopes ended in the fumble that resulted in the long touchown catch by Jovon Durante. On that play, Texas freshman cornerback Davante Davis got beat and the safety help from sophomore Jason Hall was not only late because he was held by West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard, but also rendered ineffective because he took a poor angle that forced him to play the ball over his shoulder.
It didn't work and the result was crushing -- prior to the fumble, the Horns had been rumbling towards a score to cut the 14-10 lead. Instead, a false start penalty on 3rd and 1 forced a difficult down-and-distance for Swoopes, who lost the ball on a second or third effort instead of just going down and settling for a field goal.
Defensively, the line struggled to make plays late in the half and allowed too many seams for West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood, who was talented and fast enough to take advantage to help set up the first score.
The season is on the line and while there were hopeful moments in the first half with the long run from Foreman and other stretches of offensive execution between penalties -- Texas out-gained West Virginia 273 to 236 -- the 14 points off turnovers and four points lost on the Williams hold have dug the Horns a huge hole from where the team could be with fewer mistakes.