MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WVU Athletics) -- West Virginia went toe-to-toe with No. 11 Texas for three quarters before the Longhorns finally asserted themselves late to pull away for a 42-31 victory here at sold-out Milan Puskar Stadium Saturday afternoon in sunny Morgantown, West Virginia.
An overflow crowd of 62,069 watched underdog West Virginia (3-2, 1-1) make it a four-point game late in the third quarter when Evan Staley punched through a 29-yard field goal, but two fourth quarter interceptions resulted in 14 unanswered points for the Longhorns to turn the game upside down.
The first one, an athletic pick by B.J. Foster at the WVU 18, quickly turned into seven points when wide receiver Devin Duvernay, lined up in the backfield, took a handoff from Sam Ehlinger and ran 13 yards to paydirt.
On West Virginia's next offensive possession, D'Shawn Jamison jumped in front of Kendall's long out pass to the near side of the field and returned it 12 yards to the WVU 33.
Two runs and an Ehlinger 7-yard pass to Jake Smith set up offensive tackle Samuel Cosmi's 12-yard touchdown run. Texas coach Tom Herman dipped into his bag of tricks on this one when Cosmi set up to block on the backside, but then stepped back to take a throwback pass to the nearside of the field where he followed a convoy of blockers into the end zone.
The scoring play was officially ruled a run.
"We had some guys miss assignments on that play, good for them," West Virginia coach Neal Brown said.
Nevertheless, in a matter of just 2:03, Texas had complete control of the football game.
"I thought we lost the game in the mid-point of the third quarter," Brown said. "Offensively, we probably played our best half against a quality opponent in the first half and in the third quarter it just wasn't good enough."
Ehlinger did a good portion of his work in the first half by throwing a pair of touchdown passes and running for another as the Longhorns built a 21-14 halftime lead.
His first touchdown pass, a 22-yarder to Malcolm Epps, came as a result of linebacker Ayodele Adeoye's interception and return to the Mountaineer 27. Ehlinger's second scoring strike, a 13-yarder to John Burt, capped an 11-play, 69-yard drive that consumed five minutes of the clock and knotted the score at 14.
"Defensively, third downs killed us in the first half," Brown said. "They had the ball 13 more minutes than we did and a lot of that was in the first half when we couldn't get off the field on third down and in the third quarter when we couldn't get anything going offensively."
Ehlinger also accounted for a pair of rushing touchdowns, one coming after a missed Staley field goal in the second quarter to cap a six-play, 80-yard drive and the other to complete Texas' 21-point fourth-quarter flurry.
The junior finished the day completing 18-of-33 passes for 211 yards while running nine times for 45 yards. He was sacked three times, one each by Darius Stills, Quondarius Qualls and linebacker VanDarius Cowan, who made his first appearance of the season today.
"I thought defensively we did a pretty good job against him," Brown said. "My biggest concern coming into the game was him dropping back to pass and running for first downs. That didn't happen as much so I think we did a better job than maybe I thought we would coming into the game."
Roschon Johnson, getting most of his work in the second half, finished with a game-high 117 yards on 21 carries. Texas had 216 yards on 49 attempts.
"They hurt us with the run game once we got tired," Brown said.
After falling behind 35-17, Austin Kendall fired a pair of late touchdown passes to T.J. Simmons and Bryce Wheaton to finish the afternoon with a season-high 367 yards through the air.
He also completed a pretty 44-yard scoring strike to Sam James on the game's opening possession with the freshman making an impressive sliding catch that was confirmed by the replay official upstairs.
West Virginia's other touchdown came as a result of Kendall brilliantly executing a fake on a zone-read play at the goal line and walking in from the 1.
Kendall also called his own number from the 1 to walk in untouched early in the second quarter. Of Kendall's four interceptions, Brown said afterward that three of them were not necessarily his fault.
"That's the best game he's played without watching it on tape," Brown said. "The first interception he threw was his fault. He read the wrong coverage. The next three, two of them were in the receiver's hands and third one we had a guy run the wrong route."
Of West Virginia's 69 offensive plays, 46 were Kendall passes. Texas was far more balanced, running 49 times and trying 33 passes.
Total yardage actually favored the Mountaineers 463 to 427, although 155 of that came after Texas had opened up an 18-point lead.
"We knew this was a game where we were going to have to throw," Brown said. "There is a reason why they have one of the better run defenses in the country."
Today's victory was Texas' third at Milan Puskar Stadium to even its record against West Virginia at 4-4 since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 Conference.
West Virginia has a 5-4 overall advantage in the series and has won four of those in Austin; the Mountaineers are just 1-3 against Texas in Morgantown.
"I'm disappointed we lost but not disappointed with how we played," Brown said. "We made some strides. We've got to play smarter and we've got to do a better job coaching.
"Our details have got to be better. There are going to be some things that make are players and staff sick tomorrow when we watch the tape," Brown said.
Afterward, Brown mentioned that receivers Sam James and Sean Ryan sustained injuries during today's game, but he won't know the severity of those until early next week.
Texas improves to 4-1, 2-0 following the victory and will face undefeated Oklahoma next Saturday in Dallas in the Red River Rivalry.
West Virginia remains in Morgantown next Saturday to face 3-2 Iowa State. The Cyclones were impressive earlier today in knocking off TCU 49-24 in Ames.