Texas arrived in Morgantown with a thirst for vengeance. West Virginia was keen on making Texas their Big 12 rival, and fans were sporting “Horns Down” at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Not only were the Longhorns entering an arena of passionate fans hungry for their loss, but they were out to avenge their one point loss against West Virginia at home last season.
The Longhorns can leave with their heads held high, after taking down the Mountaineers 42-31. Texas’ success came from West Virginia’s offensive mistakes as well as a Texas’ talent in the offense.
“We knew this was going to be a really tough environment,” head Coach Tom Herman said. “I thought, you know, hats off to the West Virginia team, organization and fans. That's a hell of an atmosphere to play college football in, and we enjoyed it. ... I thought, you know, we held a team to under 100 yards rushing, got four turnovers (and) played great defense in the second half.”
West Virginia took an early lead in the first quarter with a quick 1 minute, 29 second drive. Texas’ first drive resulted in an unsuccessful field goal, but what followed would be a common theme in West Virginia’s eventual downfall.
On West Virginia’s 25 yard line, WVU redshirt junior quarterback Austin Kendall’s pass was intercepted by Texas freshman linebacker Ayodele Adeoye for a 13-yard return. This interception would result in a drive giving Texas its first touchdown, and it would not be the last one.
In fact, three of Kendall’s four interceptions would result in a touchdown by Texas. The other two came in the fourth quarter, with back to back interceptions that pushed Texas’ lead from 21-17 to 35-17.
These interceptions inevitably cost West Virginia the game, but it gave Texas’ offense a confidence boost that would allow them to show off different players in their arsenal. Following Kendall’s last interception in the fourth quarter, junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger completed a pass to sophomore left tackle Samuel Cosmi on a trick play. Cosmi would run for 12 yards for a touchdown.
“I did not think we're going to use it today,” Cosmi said. “I thought, you know, this is just a play that’s kind of like a Hail Mary play. So, I really didn't think we're doing it. But, once I heard it, I took a couple of deep breaths, and (I said), ‘Just don't drop the ball, don't drop the ball.’”
Ehlinger also had a successful night in Morgantown. He passed for 211 yards, throwing two touchdowns in the process. He also rushed for 45 yards, including a 23-yard rush that would result in Texas’ final touchdown. Ehlinger also matched with former Longhorn quarterback James Brown with 53 career passing touchdowns, fourth in school history.
Texas’ running back conundrum seemed to worsen Saturday after running back Keaontay Ingram walked off the field and into the locker room in the first half of the game. Although Ingram returned in the third quarter, true freshman Roschon Johnson carried the Longhorns with an impressive game. Johnson would set a personal record, rushing for 121 yards on 21 carries against the Mountaineers.
For his teammates, it’s a further testament to who is, as Johnson decided to skip redshirting in order to help his teammates.
“I'll continue to say it every day, Roschon is an incredible young man, on and off the field,” Ehlinger said on Tuesday. “Everybody loves being around him. His presence is, it's great, and his selflessness as well as his hard work is a testament to his character because he's such a great person. He's the definition of putting the team in front of yourself and playing for the love of your teammates and doing everything you can to help your team win.”
Texas is heading to Dallas soon to face off with their true rivals, the Oklahoma Sooners. Now heading into their biggest game of the week, the Longhorns are confident in taking on the 5–0 team after beating their faux rivals.
“I define rivals, maybe a little bit differently, they've got to have some semblance of history to it,” Herman said, “When you play teams, You know, 60, 70 100 times, to me, that defines a rivalry. We don't take anybody lightly in the Big 12. … But just in terms of historical significance, in terms of times played, obviously, the team we play next week is, by and large, our biggest rival.”