By John Henry, The Sports Xchange
FORT WORTH, Texas — TCU quarterback Kenny Hill had the football version of the cycle on Saturday.
And No. 8 TCU needed every one of his three touchdowns to get past No. 23 West Virginia in another wild game between the two Big 12 schools.
Hill had a touchdown passing, receiving and a 3-yard rushing score that put the Horned Frogs ahead for good in a 31-24 victory over the Mountaineers.
Hill threw a 45-yard TD to Jalen Reagor in the third quarter and took a pass from receiver KaVontae Turpin and ran 48 yards for another score for the Horned Frogs, who improved to 5-0 and 2-0 in the Big 12.
West Virginia fell to 3-2 and 1-1.
“Made enough plays to pull it off,” Hill said. “The team and the coaches trust me with the ball down there. That means a lot. It gives you a lot of confidence.
“This is a big-time win. To pull it out is huge. We’ve got to keep it rolling.”
It wasn’t pretty.
The Horned Frogs gave up 508 yards of total offense to West Virginia, including 366 yards passing by Mountaineers quarterback Will Grier, who entered ranked sixth nationally in touchdown passes.
Grier was 25 for 45 and three touchdowns, two to David Sills of 64 and 4 yards, and another of 76 yards to Ka’Raun White.
Mountaineers running back Justin Crawford was kept just below his Big 12-leading 112.8 rushing yards per game with 111 on 19 carries.
Despite all the yardage, West Virginia could only get into the red zone three times, scoring a touchdown on only one trip.
The Mountaineers opened the scoring with a Mike Molina field goal to cap a 14-play drive that started at their 4. Later, in the second quarter, West Virginia failed to capitalize on an 11-play drive with Molina’s miss from 29 yards.
“We moved the ball pretty well for the most part,” Grier said. “We’ve got to be able to finish drives. We’ve got to find a way to win those games.”
After Hill’s go-ahead TD, the Mountaineers failed to move the ball past midfield, turning the ball over on downs at the 1:40 mark.
The Horned Frogs also turned two turnovers into 10 points, including Hill’s 45-yard TD pass to freshman Reagor.
The close contest was nothing new to TCU and West Virginia. The first three games between these two went down to the final play, including two decided in overtime, and this one seemed like it would.
“Welcome to West Virginia-TCU games,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “Find a way to win. That’s what you got to do. You get into conference, you find ways to win.
“It’s hard to be 5-0.”
Hill, who entered the game with a completion percentage of 72.6, was 15 of 28 for 188 yards.
After White’s TD reception, TCU dug into its playbook to retake the lead with an unconventional play.
Turpin took a handoff, ran right and pulled up to throw back to Hill, who broke a tackle and ran untouched 48 yards.
“I was so excited when they called that play,” Hill said. “We’ve been practicing that play all week. I said (to coaches), ‘If ya’ll throw to me, I’m going to score. I’m not letting anyone tackle me on this.'”
TCU opened the game going three-and-out on two of its first three possessions, which netted 30 total yards.
But opportunity soon arrived later in the first quarter.
The Horned Frogs turned a muffed punt into a Sewo Olonilua TD dive from the 2-yard line that gave TCU a lead.
The star of the first half was TCU’s Adam Nunez, who dropped three punts inside West Virginia’s 5-yard line and another at the 6.
West Virginia’s average first-half field position was its own 13.
“It’s a disappointing loss,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “We had opportunities to stop them and we didn’t. TCU is a good football team. They didn’t make any mistakes.”