The West Virginia University Mountaineers picked up a big win Thursday night over the Baylor Bears, bringing them to 3-3 on the season. Both offenses were out to put on a show, but it was the Mountaineer defense making key plays which lead them to a 43-40 victory over the Bears. The focus for the remaining six games on the schedule will be picking up three more wins to become bowl eligible.
Offenses Put on a Show
Both offenses were able to put on a show as they combined for over 1,000 yards. West Virginia’s offensive line was able to capitalize on defensive plays which ultimately lead to their win over Baylor. Coming into the game, Baylor was only allowing 3.4 yards per rush by opposing teams, according to sports-reference. Additionally, Freshman start running back C.J. Donaldson was out with an injury, leading Mountaineer fans to believe it would be a tough game on the ground. Despite this, sophomore running back Tony Mathis Jr. showed up for the Mountaineers. On their opening drive, West Virginia marched down the field with ease for a touchdown. On that drive, Mathis Jr. carried the ball for an average of 6.8 yards per carry and the sealed the first touchdown of the game. Throughout the game, the O-line finished with an impressive 5.9 yards per carry which included three touchdowns, and they didn’t allow one sack against quarterback J.T. Daniels
Mountaineer Defense Steals the Show
It wasn’t pretty early on, but the Mountaineer defense was able to make plays when it mattered most. According to Pro Football Focus, Baylor’s overall offensive grade comes in at a 91.6 A tough challenge for West Virginia, and it showed as the Bears were able to hit big play after big play. Late in the second quarter Baylor held a 17-10 lead and were moving the ball well on what looked to be another touchdown drive. However, disaster struck when quarterback Blake Shapen fumbled the ball behind the line of scrimmage. West Virginia received the fortunate bounce as the ball ended up in the hands of Jasir Cox who returned it 65 yards for a touchdown. Another big momentum shift occurred early in the fourth quarter as Baylor scored to take a 37-31 lead. On the ensuing PAT, defensive lineman broke through to block the attempt. Another fortunate bounce occurred as the ball found its way into the hand of corner Jacolby Spells, who raced into the end-zone for two points. The Mountaineer defense would hold strong for the rest of the quarter, only allowing three points. With 33 seconds left, WVU kicker Casey Legg nailed a 22 yard field goal to seal the win.
A Look at the Second Half of the Season
West Virginia is halfway through the season and halfway to bowl eligibility. The remaining schedule is a tough one as well, with three out of six teams currently ranked. The good news? Two of those ranked teams will be traveling to Mountaineer Field. The bad news? One of the unranked teams is the Oklahoma Sooners. A team that West Virginia has not beat since joining the Big XII. It all starts next Saturday as Neal Brown and company will be searching for their first win against Texas Tech since he took the job in Morgantown. Will we see a Mountaineer defense more prone to creating turnovers in the second half of the season like we saw against Baylor? A step in that direction could help as they attempt to upset teams in their quest for bowl eligibility.
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