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Texas upsets West Virginia 28-14, clenches Bowl berth for First Time since 2014

Photo: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Longhorns bowl eligble with upset win in Morgantown

Texas versus West Virginia did not start out the way most, including myself, predicted. Both offenses struggled to get things going early on, but things got rocky for the Mountaineers on their third drive of the game.

Will Grier, reaching for the pylon on a potential rushing touchdown, broke his middle finger. The result of the play was a fumble and a touchback for West Virginia, giving the Longhorns the ball. They would punt after a 3-and-out.

On the next Texas possession Sam Ehlinger led the Longhorns on an 11-play, 91-yard drive that can be attributed to Ehlinger’s solid play on the ground and through the air. A large chunk of the yardage on the drive was courtesy of a 50-yard pass to Reggie Hemphill-Mapps, which was taken to the West Virginia 20. The drive finished with an Ehlinger pass to Tight End Kendall Moore for a 4-yard touchdown. The score was 7-0 Longhorns with 10:55 left in the first half.

West Virginia would punt the ball again, and the Longhorns saw their opportunity and capitalized on it. Texas went on another scoring drive, this time a 10-play, 87-yard drive that ended with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Sam Ehlinger to Chris Warren III. The score was now 14-0 Texas with 2:29 left in the first half and would remain that way as the half expired.

On the Longhorns’ second possession of the third quarter, as he was being sacked, Sam Ehlinger lofted a pass that was intercepted and returned 94-yards for a touchdown. This gave the Mountaineers their first score of the game. West Virginia still trailed the Longhorns 14-7 with 5:29 left in the 3rd quarter.

Texas looked to be losing their momentum after the pick-6 and was forced to punt on the next offensive possession. West Virginia followed suit and punted. The Longhorns had great field position after the punt, beginning the drive at the West Virginia 46 yard line.

After two plays, the Longhorns would find the end zone again, thanks to a 10-yard touchdown run by sophmore Kyle Porter. The score was now 21-7 in favor of Texas with just over a minute left in the third quarter.

West Virginia, led by 2nd string quarterback Chris Chugunov, began to feel the urgency and tried to responded. The Mountaineers went on a 7-play, 51-yard drive that ended with a pass in the endzone to Gary Jennings which was beautifully deflected by Texas safety DeShon Elliot. The ball was turned over on downs as a result.

Texas was forced to punt, and West Virginia would capitalize on the offensive possession.  Chris Chugunov found Ka-Raun White on 4th and 3, which went for a 12-yard touchdown and cut the Texas lead to 21-14 with 9:01 left in the game. Notably on the drive, Texas DE Breckyn Hager was flagged for a targeting penalty on Chugunov and ejected.

Momentum began heavily swinging toward the Mountaineers after Texas was forced to punt again. West Virginia was on the verge of tying the game when Chugunov was sacked and fumbled the ball on his own 6-yard line. Texas recovered and had ample field position to put the game out of reach.

And that they did, on their second 2-play drive of the game, which resulted in a 1-yard TD by Daniel Young.  Young went airborne and over the top for the score, propelling the Longhorns to a 28-14 lead with just over 5 minutes left in the game.

West Virginia could not answer, instead punting the ball after 5 plays and ending with a Chris Chugunov fumble which was recovered by the Mountaineers.  They would punt the ball with 2:30 left in the game, giving Texas the chance to put things out of reach for good. The Longhorns went on a drive that ended with the Ehlinger taking a knee and securing a 28-14 Texas victory.

Texas is bowl eligible for the first time since 2014, which was former head coach Charlie Strong’s first season in Austin. The Longhorns upset a West Virginia team that was hoping to win today and compete for a share of the Big 12 crown, but those hopes have now been squandered. The defense played well against back-up QB Chris Chugunov, and were it not for the heroics of Longhorns QB Sam Ehlinger, this game might have not gone in Texas’s favor.

Texas hosts in-state rival Texas Tech in Austin next Friday at 7 P.M. on Fox, the day after Thanksgiving, in the hopes of returning the Chancellor’s Spurs to Austin.

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Ross Labenske is a student at the University of Texas studying journalism with a focus in sports. He graduated from Allen High School and has a passion for his hometown teams in the Dallas area; the Mavericks, Rangers, and first and foremost, the Dallas Cowboys.

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