FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Kenny Hill scored three different ways, and got the winning score by avoiding three defenders as No. 8 TCU remained the only undefeated team in the Big 12 Conference.
Hill eluded a defender in the backfield and lunged forward through two more Mountaineers for a 3-yard touchdown run with 2:53 left in a 31-24 victory over No. 23 West Virginia on Saturday.
“This team and the coaches trust me with the ball down there. That means a lot,” Hill said. “It gives you a lot of confidence.”
That winning TD run came only five plays after an apparent interception was reversed on a replay review, and after Hill had already thrown a 45-yard TD pass and been on the receiving end of a 48-yard score for the Horned Frogs (5-0, 2-0 Big 12).
“It seems like every week, you guys believe this wants to be a drama about Kenny Hill,” coach Gary Patterson said. “The guy’s 5-0.”
Hill is only the second Big 12 player to throw, run and catch a touchdown in a conference game during the league’s 22 seasons, while two players have done it in nonconference play, the last in 2008, according to STATS Inc.
Will Grier threw for 366 yards and three TDs for West Virginia (3-2, 1-1), including two long catch-and-run scores in a span of about 2 1/2 minutes late in the third quarter. It was tied at 24 after Grier hooked up with David Sills V on a 64-yard scoring play and then Ka’Raun White for a 76-yarder.
TCU led 7-3 at halftime in the only game Saturday matching Top 25 teams, and after third-ranked and two-time defending Big 12 champion Oklahoma (4-1, 1-1) was upset at home by Iowa State.
“It was a close game. Everything that happened in the first half, throw it away,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said, when asked what he told his team at the half. “If we outplay them in the second half, we’re probably going to win the game — and we didn’t.”
After those two long West Virginia TDs, the Frogs used a little trickery to go ahead again. KaVontae Turpin took a handoff and swept to the right before stopping and throwing back to Hill , who sprinted down the left sideline for the score. It was a play TCU had worked on in practice, and Hill had told coach Sonny Cumbie he would score if it got called in a game.
“I was like ‘Oh, let’s go.’ It just worked out.” Hill said. “Overall, that’s just a great team effort.”
West Virginia got even at 31 on Sills’ 4-yard TD catch with 9:50 left, a nice reaching grab in the back of the end zone . He had seven catches for 116 yards and now has nine TD catches this season. He was already tied for the national lead before his fourth game this season with multiple scores.
There could be a chance for TCU to move up at least a spot or two, especially after Oklahoma losing at home two weeks after having to hold on to win its Big 12 opener 48-41 at winless Baylor. Even if the Mountaineers slip out of the new poll, they are a Top 25-worthy team. Both losses are 31-24, to TCU and No. 16 Virginia Tech.
West Virginia: With Grier, Sills and Big 12 leading rusher Justin Crawford (111 yards rushing), the Mountaineers aren’t backing down from anyone. Remember, the top two teams will get into the league’s championship game, and there’s still a long way to go in the season. They can move the ball, with 508 total yards even when confused by the Frogs defense. “They didn’t do anything that we thought they were going to do,” Grier said.
TCU: Hill had his struggles at times, especially before halftime, but again made the plays the Frogs needed to win. Kyle Hicks was back with 71 yards rushing and Sewo Olonilua took a direct snap for a diving 2-yard TD. Unranked to start the season, TCU is clearly becoming a favorite to contend for a Big 12 title.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers play three of their next four games at home, starting next Saturday against Texas Tech.
TCU: A trip to Patterson’s alma mater, when the Frogs play at Kansas State next Saturday.