Back from the brink

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .


It was overtime again between West Virginia and TCU.

The teams met in Morgantown, W.Va., a year ago and battled to a 39-38 double overtime victory for the Horned Frogs. But this time it was WVU redshirt freshman kicker Josh Lambert who would play hero with a 34-yard field goal in overtime to both complete a furious comeback and ward off a late collapse.

Finally, mercifully, the Mountaineers stumbled into their first road victory of the season, beating the Horned Frogs, 27-24, in Fort Worth, Texas, to keep their bowl hopes alive and well. WVU now needs to win two of their final three games to reach bowl eligibility.

In a surprise role reversal from the last two weeks, it was the Mountaineers' opponent this time who lost a third-quarter lead and surrendered an absurd unanswered scoring run to lose by double digits. 

TCU (3-6, 1-5 Big 12) led 17-3 midway through the third quarter before RB Charles Sims got free for a 31-yard touchdown run -- he would finish with 154 rushing yards and 35 receiving yards. A few minutes later, the Horned Frogs imploded altogether, ending three consecutive drives with two fumbles and an interception. That's when the Mountaineers (4-5, 2-4 Big 12) attacked.

When TCU QB Trevone Boykin fumbled at the WVU 5-yard line with 14 seconds left in the third quarter, WVU mounted a nine-play, 72-yard drive that ended with Lambert's 42-yard field goal. Boykin's fumble came on the first play of the TCU drive, right after WVU QB Clint Trickett had thrown an interception.

When TCU QB Casey Pachall threw an interception on the first play of the next drive to CB Ishmael Banks, WVU answered seven plays later with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Trickett to HB Cody Clay to take a 20-17 lead.

When Pachall fumbled the ball away on the next drive, Trickett found Sims for his second touchdown of the day, extending the WVU lead to 27-17 with seven minutes left on the clock.

Yet, somehow, the game was anything but over.

Pachall led TCU on an 11-play, 72-yard touchdown drive, the Horned Frogs held on defense, and then Pachall brought TCU back downfield to set up a game-tying 45-yard field goal by kicker Jaden Oberkrom with 19 seconds left, effectively sending the game to overtime.

TCU took the ball first and immediately lost every bit of momentum it had. A 6-yard loss on a rush and a 15-yard personal foul forced Oberkrom into a 62-yard field goal try. He had the distance, but he hooked it by five feet. You'll remember that in overtime last year both teams missed field goals in the opening frame of overtime.

West Virginia took over needing only a field goal and trusted Sims with the rock. He ran three times, RB Dreamius Smith took the last carry to center the ball, and Lambert trotted in and drilled the game-winner.

Trickett finished 25 of 41 passing for 267 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. 

The WVU defense forced four turnovers -- LB Nick Kwiatkoski picked off Pachall on the first play of the game -- and sacked Pachall three times.

Stephen J. Nesbitt: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.

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