MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- With a chance to run the clock out and kick a field goal, Kliff Kingsbury went for the kill instead.
And with a freshman quarterback, no less, in his first career road start.
“We talk about it all the time, fortune favors the bold,” Kingsbury said. “We’re going to go try win the game.
“We’re not going to leave it on anybody else.”
Kingsbury’s play-to-win attitude has the preseason pick to finish seventh in the league sitting at 7-0. And it has solidified the Red Raiders as legit contenders in a wild, wild Big 12 season heading into next weekend’s showdown at Oklahoma.
“That call showed how much trust Coach has in us,” said tight end Jace Amaro, who hauled in the 10-yard touchdown pass from Webb at the back of the end zone that put the Red Raiders up by two scores with 1:01 to play.
Kingsbury’s call especially showed trust in Webb, who has blossomed since losing the starting job in the preseason to freshman walk-on Baker Mayfield.
In Webb's first start last week, he broke the Texas Tech freshman passing record in a victory over Iowa State.
In Morgantown, Webb broke the record again.
He completed 36 of 50 passes for 462 yards and two touchdowns to also become the first Texas Tech freshman to throw for more than 400 yards in his first two starts.
“Losing the job really kicked him into overtime as far as determination and work ethic,” Kingsbury said of Webb, who, as a freshman, remains off limits to the media. “He has handled himself very well since.”
Webb was far from perfect Saturday. And his fumble at the West Virginia 1-yard line in the second quarter completely reversed momentum of the game. The Red Raiders led 13-3 and were primed to make it 20-3. But off a quarterback draw, Webb tried to embody his coach’s play-to-win attitude and went for the touchdown instead of sliding. At the goal line, three Mountaineers converged on Webb and popped the ball loose and West Virginia recovered. The Mountaineers answered with a 99-yard touchdown drive, and scored on five straight possessions to take a 27-16 lead in the third quarter.
“That one I was mad about, because we talk about sliding all the time; he's not the most nimble to try and do something like that, either,” Kingsbury said. “But he said, ‘I got you, Coach. I’ll make up for it.’ That’s the kind of kid he is.”
Webb more than made up for the fumble.
And the Texas Tech defense, which was on its heels for two quarters, finally gave him the opportunity to do it.
After the Mountaineers took the 11-point lead, the Red Raider defense allowed just one first down the rest of the way over West Virginia’s final five possessions.
“West Virginia had a lot of opportunities there (to put the game away),” linebacker Terrance Bullitt said. “But we never panicked. We were like, ‘Let’s go, let’s get this.’ We knew we were going to stop them. We stepped up as a defense, then the offense stepped up and put the game away.”
The drive before Webb’s final touchdown pass, West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett completed all three of his passes. But the Mountaineers still went three-and-out, as Texas Tech’s Bullitt, Derrick Mays and Bruce Jones all made sure tackles to force yet another punt.
“We knew if we got that stop, we were going to win the game,” said Amaro, who had another monster performance with nine catches for 136 yards and two touchdowns to fuel Texas Tech’s comeback.
“We got that stop.”
After that stop, the Red Raiders got the ball back with 4:30 still to play. But instead of just sitting on the ball, Tech gunned for first downs. On 3rd-and-6, Webb lofted a pass 27 yards downfield to Jordan Davis, who came down with the reception in coverage at the West Virginia 5.
Then three plays later on third-and-goal, Kingsbury called another daring pass. And Webb delivered.
“When we’ve had to have big drives, Davis has made them,” said Kingsbury, who was the first to meet Webb at the hashmarks to celebrate the score. “I’m really proud of how he handled himself in the fourth quarter.”
A fourth quarter Texas Tech played to win. And a win that stamped the Red Raiders as Big 12 contenders.