LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) – Skyler Howard and his West Virginia teammates have had a goal all season to score at least 40 points.
They did it and then some on Saturday as the 20th-ranked Mountaineers shut down Texas Tech 48-17. Howard ran for two touchdowns and threw for another to keep the Mountaineers unbeaten and in the hunt for the Big 12 title.
“It shows that we can do it,” Howard said. “It all goes back to the confidence.”
The Mountaineers (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) held Texas Tech (3-3, 1-2) to its lowest offensive output this season, just 379 yards, and harassed quarterback Patrick Mahomes most of the day. He threw for 305 yards, his second-lowest passing total of the season, and was replaced in the fourth quarter by Nic Shimonek.
A 14-point turnaround in the second quarter helped the Mountaineers gain momentum. Sean Walters’ interception at the West Virginia 11 led to a TD pass from Howard to Justin Crawford at the other end of the field to put the Mountaineers up 17-7.
“We made some plays, got a good lead,” Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen said. “We were able to control the ball and shorten the game. That’s, in a perfect world, what we wanted to happen and that’s what happened.”
Howard completed 21 of 31 passes for 318 yards. Rushel Shell, who finished with 104 yards rushing for West Virginia, scored two rushing TDs in the fourth quarter as the Mountaineers pulled away.
The Mountaineers got solid play from their defense all game, adding to the mojo the offense felt, Howard said
“It’s always good when the other side of the ball is doing great,” he said. “The whole team has confidence.”
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said his team’s performance was embarrassing and not what he expected.
“It’s the worst I’ve seen since I’ve been associated with Texas Tech,” he said. “We seemed intimidated and they took it.”
Kingsbury said some missed practices might be affecting Mahomes’ rhythm with the team. Holgorsen, though, thought the junior quarterback was off a bit physically.
“Mahomes, he needs to get healthy,” Holgorsen said. “You can tell he’s not quite 100 percent right now. But the way he keeps it alive, I’ve never seen anything like it. He keeps his eyes down field, makes any throw that you want him to. I mean, he’s a fantastic player.”
West Virginia: The Mountaineers improved their success dramatically in the red zone. Coming into the game, West Virginia had found the end zone on just eight of 18 trips inside opponents’ 20 (44 percent). They scored on each of their eight trips there Saturday.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders’ streak of nine home games with at least 50 points – an NCAA record – ended with this loss. Their offense was stymied in every facet by West Virginia’s defense. Texas Tech’s run game, which typically sets up the pass, was nearly nonexistent. They finished with just 34 rushing yards.
POLL IMPLICATIONS: It’s not likely that West Virginia will move up much in The AP Poll after downing an unranked team. But one never knows. They moved up two spots after a bye last weekend.
TOO FEW POINTS
Texas Tech’s 17 points were the fewest the Red Raiders have scored since falling to Texas 34-13 in 2014. The second-quarter shutout by WVU snapped a streak of 28 straight quarters in which the Red Raiders have scored.
Walters’ interception was the first of his career, and the team now has one in four straight games. The Mountaineers have forced a turnover in all five games this season and in 10 of their last 11. Walters’ interception was WVU’s sixth of the season.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers host TCU next Saturday.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders host Oklahoma, which is led by former Texas Tech QB Baker Mayfield.
This story corrects spelling of Skyler Howard.
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