FORT WORTH, Texas — West Virginia had been making a bad habit out of giving up leads the last two weeks, and it was making the Mountaineers’ fight to become bowl eligible a tough one.
Last week, West Virginia gave up a five-point third quarter lead and lost to Kansas State 35-12, and the week before the Mountaineers led Texas Tech by 11 points in the third before falling 37-27.
On Saturday, West Virginia gave up a 10-point fourth quarter lead to TCU but came back in overtime with a Josh Lambert 35-yard game-winning field goal for a 30-27 victory over TCU.
“That shows how tough these guys are — to have that happen to us twice the last two weeks, to have the lead and lose it — we did that again but then we still finished,” West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett said. “We’re a mentally tough team. We prepared for this and our guys deserve it.”
Charles Sims rushed for a season-high 154 yards and Trickett completed 25 of 41 passes for 267 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions for West Virginia.
The Mountaineers (4-5, 2-4 Big 12) snapped a three-game losing streak and continue to fight for bowl eligibility with games at Texas, at Kansas and at home against Iowa State remaining.
TCU and West Virginia had their first meeting in the Big 12 last year, and in the game, TCU overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half to win 39-38 in double-overtime.
“Last year we were in that situation, we needed to win, they needed to win, and in the same spot, they found a way to win at the end,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “Two teams that needed to win; two teams in similar situations. and we found a way to get the win. I was proud of the way our guys didn’t quit.”
In their overtime possession, the Horned Frogs had minus-5 yards, a 15-yard personal foul and an incomplete pass. Jaden Oberkrom, whose 45-yard field goal tied the game 27-27 with 19 seconds to play, missed a 62-yard attempt in overtime. Oberkrom’s career-long field goal was 53 yards.
The Horned Frogs have lost three in a row, their first three-game losing streak in coach Gary Patterson’s 13 seasons at TCU. Patterson’s only losing record at TCU is 5-6 in 2004. TCU (3-6, 1-5 Big 12) will have to win its last three to become bowl eligible and finish the season at .500.
TCU’s 17-10 halftime lead held up until the Mountaineers started to take control in the fourth quarter. During an eight-minute stretch starting at the end of the third quarter, the Mountaineers forced TCU into three turnovers in five plays leading to 17 West Virginia points. On the last score, the Mountaineers took advantage of a short field and went 17 yards in three plays to push the lead to 10 when Trickett found Sims from 13 yards out with 7:11 to go.
But TCU quarterback Casey Pachall — who had an interception and a fumble in that previous stretch — went 12-for-15 on TCU’s next two drives. He went 8-for-9 on the first drive, including a 3-yard touchdown pass into the back of the end zone to David Porter to cut TCU’s deficit to 27-24 with three minutes left.
“We set ourselves back a couple of times,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “Four turnovers. You’re not going to win many ballgames doing that. You’ve got to score points in this league. We didn’t start moving the ball until we had to at the end of the ballgame. You’ve got to be able to do it a long time before that.”
Pachall, in his second game back after missing the previous five games with a broken non-throwing arm, was 40-of-58 with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Pachall’s first play from scrimmage was an interception, and his touchdown pass to Josh Doctson in the first quarter was his first touchdown pass of the year.
The Horned Frogs were playing without Brandon Carter, who was granted a leave of absence reportedly to tend to a family situation. Carter has started five games this season and is the team’s second-leading receiver with 17 catches for 197 yards. In his place, backup quarterback Trevone Boykin (11 catches, 100 yards) and Doctson (8 catches, 92 yards) each had a career high in catches and yards. Boykin’s 11 receptions were the most for a TCU player since 1995 when John Washington had 12 catches against SMU.