WVU Mountaineers outlasts Baylor, 43-40


MORGANTOWN — JT Daniels threw for 283 yards and a touchdown while running back Tony Mathis churned up 163 yards on the ground and a pair of touchdowns Thursday night as the West Virginia Mountaineers (3-3, 1-2) knocked off the Baylor Bears (3-3, 1-2) 43-40.

The West Virginia defense held Baylor to a three and out on the game’s opening drive before the Mountaineers took their first drive right down the field with a balanced rushing and passing attack before running back Tony Mathis Jr. punched it in from seven yards out to give the Mountaineers an early 7-0 advantage.

Baylor responded with 17 unanswered points, grinding out a 14-play 71-yard drive to get three points on the board before scoring constructing consecutive touchdown drives on a total of 8 plays for 155 yards for a 17-7 lead.

West Virginia accumulated 30 yards on nine plays through two drives before getting back on track. The Mountaineers were facing a third and 10 and with all the momentum on the Baylor sideline, the game was slipping away but a beautiful pass from JT Daniels to a leaping, stretching Reese Smith over the middle for 30 yards kept the drive alive. However, WVU had to settle for a 23-yard field goal to get back within a touchdown.

The Bears were marching right back down the field until Sean Martin began chasing Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen in the backfield, got a piece of his arm and the ball popped free and linebacker Jasir Cox scooped up the ball and returned it 65 yards for the touchdown to even the game at 17.

Baylor quickly responded on the following drive, finished off with a 39-yard touchdown on a screen to Craig Williams down the left side as the Bears took the seven-point advantage into the break.

West Virginia tied the game on the opening possession of the second half. The 13-play 74-yard drive ended with a tough run after the catch bouncing off would be tacklers before finding the endzone and tying the game at 24.

The Mountaineer defense looked to hold the Bears offense to a three and out to start the second half but Baylor head coach Dave Aranda went for the fourth and one on the Baylor 35 and got two off right tackle and the Bears were off and moving.

The Bears were at the WVU 15-yard line before Shapen scrambled out of the pocket and as he went to slide, West Virginia corner went down with him, going helmet to helmet and was ejected for targeting.

Kyron Jones came into the game and finished the drive with a two-yard touchdown pass to Hal Presley and the Bears were back up seven 31-24.

The West Virginia offense kept the Mountaineers in the game, again, responding with another touchdown drive. Daniels delivered another dime, this time to Sam James, dropping into two defenders into the waiting arms of James and out of bounds for a 34-yard toss and catch. Then, Justin Johnson capped off the drive with a 19-yard run and split the safeties into the endzone to tie the game at 31.

Jones continued the Bears passing attack on the ensuing drive, going 3-3 for 63 yards and Qualan Jones punched it in to give Baylor back the lead. On the extra point, Dante Stills squeezed through for the block and Jacolby Spells returned it for the two-point conversion and the Mountaineers were within four.

West Virginia failed to convert on a fourth and one near midfield on the Baylor side, but two plays later, Baylors’ Qualan Jones fumbled the ball back to West Virginia as Jasir Cox came out of the pile with the ball.

The Mountaineers regained the lead with a pair of 18-yard passes to Byrce Ford-Wheaton and Kaden Prather, then Mathis turned up field for a 39-yard touchdown run and the Mountaineers regained the lead 40-37.

After exchanging interceptions late in the fourth quarter, Baylor squeezed through a field goal to tie the game at 40 with 1:40 to play.

JT Daniels and the offense took the field and it was Tony Mathis Jr. breaking off to the Baylor eight-yard line. Three rushing plays were stuffed before the Mountaineers settled for a 22-yard field goal and a 43-40 lead with 33 seconds remaining.

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