Although the Horned Frogs received the ball to start the game, it was the Mountaineers that would draw first blood. On the Frogs’ opening drive, Tykee Smith picked off Max Duggan’s pass and returned it 39 yards to set Jarret Doege up for a four play, 14 yard drive ending with a three yard touchdown pass to Leddie Brown to put the Mountaineers up 7-0 early.
The two teams would trade punts on their ensuing drives before TCU tied the game up at 7-7, thanks to a 64 yard run from Taye Barber on the first play of their next drive. The Frogs would then take a 10-7 lead off of a 30 yard field goal from Jonathan Song with just over 9 minutes remaining in the first half. West Virginia answered with a 40 yarder from Evan Staley on the following drive, knotting the game up at 10-10 heading into the half.
The opening moments of the second half were a nightmare for the Mountaineers. After getting a quick first down off of a 14 yard run by Leddie Brown, Jarret Doege took a sack for a loss of 10 yards and fumbled the ball, but ultimately recovered it. On the very next play, Doege threw his third interception of the evening.
The Mountaineer defense would hold and force the Horned Frogs to punt, but would fail to get anything going on their next drive. The nightmare continued as Jalen Reagor returned the punt 70 yards, untouched, to put TCU up 17-0 with 10:32 remaining in the third quarter.
Later in the quarter, Duggan threw his second interception of the evening, and Kennedy McKoy recorded West Virginia’s longest run of the season — 36 yards — to set the Evan Staley up for a 24 yard field goal to trim the lead to 17-13.
On their opening drive of the fourth quarter, West Virginia was in position to go for it on 4th & 1 from TCU’s 42 yard line, but left guard Mike Brown picked up a false start penalty and Neal Brown elected to punt.
The Mountaineer defense once again held the Horned Frogs, and forced a punt to give Jarret Doege and the offense another shot with 4:47 remaining in the game. That shot would appear to fall short twice on the drive, but a pass interference on 4th & 1 and a targeting penalty moments later on 3rd & 12 would set Doege up to find Isaiah Esdale right at the goal line on a 35 yard touchdown pass to put West Virginia up 20-17 with 2:10 to go.
West Virginia would hang on to that lead, despite the Horned Frogs getting two drives to try and tie the game to force overtime.
Doege finished the evening 20-of-35 passing for 158 yards, 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Kennedy McKoy ran the ball 9 times for 51 yards, and Leddie Brown added 47 yards on the ground on 15 carries. Brown also recorded 41 yards and a touchdown on 6 receptions. Isaiah Esdale finished with two receptions for 39 yards and a touchdown. Sean Ryan caught three passes for 34 yards.
The Mountaineers finish Year Zero with a 5-7 record, and will look to carry momentum from the road win into the 2020 season as The Climb continues. As they’ll be staying home for the holidays, missing a bowl game for just the third time in 19 years, Neal Brown and his staff will instead turn their focus to recruiting. Early Signing Period begins on December 18th. The Smoking Musket, as always, will have full coverage of the event as the letters of intent come rolling in.