The West Virginia Mountaineers will ride a 3-0 start into Big 12 conference play next Saturday against the Kansas State Wildcats after a narrow win over the BYU Cougars at FedExField in Landover, Maryland.
The Mountaineers got off to a hot start when Skyler Howard went 8-8 on a 79-yard drive that saw Rushel Shell score his first touchdown of the evening to put West Virginia ahead early. The Cougars answered with a touchdown drive of their own, but a Skyler Howard interception on West Virginia’s second drive of the game let the Cougars take a 10-7 lead to start the second quarter. Another Rushel Shell touchdown and a Rasul Douglas pick-six put the Mountaineers back on top going into the half, 21-13.
BYU opened the second half with a touchdown drive, but a failed 2 point conversion left the Mountaineers on top 21-19. It was at this point, West Virginia stepped on the gas and managed to open up a 35-19 lead, before BYU came roaring back. With 5:55 left on the clock, the Cougars on an 18-yard passing touchdown to get within three points of the Mountaineers. West Virginia stumbled after only running 1:26 off the clock, giving BYU the ball back with plenty of time, but a tipped pass that found it’s way into Jeremy Tyler’s hands put the Mountaineers back in control.
On what should have been the final drive of the game, Justin Crawford broke through tacklers to get to the four-yard line. With the Mountaineers threatening to put the game away, a miss-timed snap from Tyler Orlosky hit Skyler Howard in the shin and the Cougars pounced on the ball, giving them one last chance.
BYU quarterback Taysom Hill went back to work, finding his receivers down field on multiple plays, and it looked like the Cougars would at least find themselves in the position to tie the game with a field goal and send it to overtime. With 1:09 left on the clock, from West Virginia’s 28-yard line, Hill dropped back to take a shot at the endzone, but the pass bounced off his intended receivers hands and into the arms of Iowa Hawkeye transfer Maurice Fleming.
West Virginia got into victory formation and sealed the deal with 1:00 ticking off the clock.
West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard went 31-for-40 with 332 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Receiver Shelton Gibson had another outstanding day, hauling in four passes for 144 yards. Justin Crawford had 86 yards on 9 carries and Rushel Shell 35 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries.