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Victory Bounces Off WVU’s Hands

Victory Bounces Off WVU's Hands

West Virginia had victory on the tips of its hands Thursday night in Houston. But the ball takes odd bounces in football. A Houston Hail Mary pass went off the fingertips of Mountaineer defenders, and into the hands of a receiver, securing a last-second miracle win for the Cougars, 41-39. This was the first time the two teams had met as the Cougars joined the Big 12 just this year. Due to WVU’s history with former head coach Dana Holgerson, the pressure to win was on, and the Mountaineers didn’t deliver. As mentioned in the preview, Holgerson had taken some not-so-veiled shots about his former employer.

The Cougars Take Down The Mountaineers

The struggle was real for WVU against Houston. The Mountaineers went in with a 4-1 record while Houston was struggling at 3-3. While the game was very back and forth all four quarters, it’s easy to see where the issues arose this week. The defense has looked solid the last six games, but it was evident Thursday how shaky and inconsistent they could be with a little more pressure.

West Virginia was coming off what felt like a significant win over TCU. especially with the Horned Frogs appearing in the 2022 National Championship. While this win definitely gave the Mountaineers a confidence boost, the bye in between games may not have helped.

AddLast Word on College Footballed Pressure

Just after WVU scored the first points of the night with a field goal, Houston answered by returning the kickoff for a touchdown. WVU special teams missed tackles and allowed the returned to glide right them. The inability to tackle is astounding this far into the 2023 season.

Another area of concern includes the WVU defense. The Mountaineer offense put up a substantial amount of yards and possession time Thursday, but could not put the game away. It was all about the defense, or the lack of it.

What About The Offense?

On the flip side, quarterback Garrett Greene was 20 of 38 for 391 yards. He managed to bounce back from an interception and added 12 carries for 47 yards. He was what kept the game within reach and even had the Mountaineers in the lead with less than a minute left.  Greene hit Hudson Clement with a pass caught at the Houston 27.  Clement did the rest cutting through the Houston defense for a go-ahead touchdown with seconds left on the clock.

But Houston had a miracle finish left in it. With seven seconds left in the game after the WVU kickoff, quarterback Donavon Smith completed a pass to Dalton Carnes for eight yards to get the ball to midfield. From there, the last play turned out to be everything for the night. The 50-yard pass into the end zone, which should have been properly batted down, instead bounced off the hands of WVU  defenders and went up in the air where it was grabbed by Houston’s Stephon Johnson for the game-winning touchdown with no time left on the clock.

The WVU offense had done its job throughout the night. But the Mountaineers defense couldn’t close the deal.

 

Victory Bounces Off WVU's Hands
Photo courtesy: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

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