The play: 3rd and 10 at WVU 13 (11:42 - 2nd) Patrick Mahomes II pass intercepted Sean Walters return for no gain to the WV 11
The Setup: Texas Tech, to me, has always been our first measuring stick game. If we can beat Texas Tech, the season will generally be a positive one for the Mountaineers. This game was no different. Texas Tech, under head coach Kliff Kingsbury, has fielded a top 5 offense but has seen regressing defense.
Texas Tech gives the Big 12 a bad name. They are the reason that everyone thinks the conference plays no defense because the Red Raiders always force you into shootouts. 2016 would be no different with eventual first round quarterback Patrick Mahomes throwing the ball all over the place. Mahomes entered the game against the Mountaineers averaging over 454 yards per game!
Skyler Howard was not going to go throw for throw with Mahomes. The Dana Holgorsen game was just not built for that in 2016. We wanted to run the ball and make deep throws when teams were forced to respect the run. Skyler, for all of his faults, was good at executing this type of game plan and could throw the deep ball when called upon.
The game started nicely with both teams trading punts before the Mountaineers used a 9-play drive to hit paydirt first. Justin Crawford ran in from 10-yards to give the Mountaineers a quick 7-0 lead. The Red Raiders would punt on their ensuing possession before the Mountaineers missed a field goal. The Red Raiders would tie the game at 7 on a Mahomes pass where he just threw it deep on 3rd and 29 and three defensive players misjudged the throw. This game was shaping up to be one more shootout for Texas Tech.
The Mountaineers marched down the field and kicked a field goal to take a tenuous 10-7 lead. The defense, now gasping for breath as the Red Raiders once again went as fast as they could, desperately needed a stop. The defense committed two penalties, including a defensive holding that bailed the Red Raiders out of 2nd and 19 to put the ball on the West Virginia 13 and a fresh set of downs. An incomplete pass and a failed run gave the defense one more chance to make a play and Sean Walters stepped up.
Tech ran a crossing pattern with jitterbug Justin Stockton but Mahomes pass was low and behind Stockton. Stockton attempted to corral the pass but tipped it and bobbled. As Sean Walters closed in on the halfback, he wrapped his arms around him and felt the ball. As he closed down, he wrestled the ball away from Stockton to gain possession and end the Red Raiders drive.
This interception really deflated the Red Raiders. This game went from a back and forth offensive affair to a one sided beatdown. The Mountaineers would score a touchdown after the interception and then force the Red Raiders to punt before adding another touchdown. The game quickly went from 10-7 to 24-7 at half time. After the interception, the Mountaineers scored on every possession except the one at the end of the first half when they simply elected to run the clock out.