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WVU

No. 23 West Virginia holds off Baylor

| Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, 12:24 a.m.
West Virginia defensive lineman Adam Shuler II (88) sacks Baylor quarterback Zach Smith (8) in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Jerry Larson)
West Virginia defensive lineman Adam Shuler II (88) sacks Baylor quarterback Zach Smith (8) in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Jerry Larson)
West Virginia cornerback Mike Daniels Jr. (4) breaks up a pass intended for Baylor wide receiver Denzel Mims (15) in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Jerry Larson)
West Virginia cornerback Mike Daniels Jr. (4) breaks up a pass intended for Baylor wide receiver Denzel Mims (15) in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Jerry Larson)
Baylor defensive tackle James Lynch (93) sacks West Virginia quarterback Will Grier (7) in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Jerry Larson)
Baylor defensive tackle James Lynch (93) sacks West Virginia quarterback Will Grier (7) in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Jerry Larson)

WACO, Texas — Xavier Preston sacked Charlie Brewer on a two-point conversion attempt with 17 seconds left, and No. 23 West Virginia withstood a furious fourth-quarter Baylor rally to escape with a 38-36 win Saturday night.

Will Grier threw for five touchdowns to pad his national lead with 26 for the Mountaineers (5-2, 3-1 Big 12), who led 38-13 at the start of the fourth quarter.

That's when Brewer entered the game for Baylor and began to turn things around with his scrambling ability. He was 8-for-13 passing for 109 yards and two touchdowns and fellow freshman Treston Ebner had 109 yards and two touchdowns receiving and a 40-yard scoring run — all in the final quarter.

Ebner's 9-yard TD catch from Brewer drew Baylor within two, but Preston got immediate pressure on the two-point try and ended Baylor's chances.

It was West Virginia's first win in Waco in three tries since joining the Big 12 in 2012.

David Sills V caught three of Grier's scoring strikes to run his total to 15, also tops in the nation. Two of his touchdowns came on back-to-back plays from scrimmage, spanning the first and second halves. The first of those was a 16-yard strike with one second left in the first half, with the latter coming on a 53-yard catch and run off a quick slant 18 seconds after halftime that pushed West Virginia's lead to 24-6.

The first Grier-to-Sills connection was a jump ball in the back of the end zone, a 35-yarder that put West Virginia ahead 10-0 late in the first quarter.

Baylor (0-7, 0-4) managed two Connor Martin field goals in the second quarter to pull within 10-6 and got into the end zone for the first time on a 7-yard run from John Lovett in the third quarter. West Virginia immediately answered with Grier connecting with Marcus Simms from 40 yards out and Ka'Raun White for a 6-yard TD. At that point, Grier had as many touchdown passes as incompletions and West Virginia was in control.

Baylor quarterback Zach Smith was 16 of 27 for 261 yards in his three quarters of action.

The takeaway

West Virginia: The Mountaineer defense dominated up front in the first three quarters. They entered with only seven sacks all season but added six against Baylor. They had a harder time corralling Brewer than the more-stationary Smith, but finally got to him when it mattered most.

Baylor: The Bears have mastered the art of giving a ranked team a scare at home. The next step is winning one. Baylor had a third-quarter lead and pushed then-No. 3 Oklahoma to the brink in a 49-41 loss its last time out at McLane Stadium on Sept. 23. The Bears actually outgained West Virginia 497-493, thanks to a 230-11 advantage in the fourth quarter.

Up next

West Virginia: Hosts No. 10 Oklahoma State on Saturday to begin a stretch of three of four games at home.

Baylor: Hosts Texas next Saturday.

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