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WVU

No. 24 West Virginia football team puzzled by 2nd-half scoring woes

| Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, 9:00 p.m.

David Sills would prefer to focus on the fun part of West Virginia's offense.

The crazy catches. The quick-scoring drives. Piles of yards and points — all in the first half of West Virginia's last two games.

The second half: Silence.

No. 24 West Virginia has been held scoreless after halftime in back-to-back contests, something that hasn't happened since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 in 2012.

The odd part? Both were wins.

The late-game offensive doldrums will need to disappear Saturday in its home finale against Texas (5-5, 4-3 Big 12) if West Virginia (7-3, 5-2) is going to keep its faint hopes alive for a spot in the conference championship game.

“I think a lot people around the country know when our offense is hot, we're one of the best in the country,” Sills said. “That's one thing, but we have to do it for four quarters. Texas is a very good team, and it's going to be a four-quarter game with them.”

West Virginia amassed 338 yards of offense in the first half at Kansas State last week, led 28-20 at halftime, then was limited to 44 yards in the fourth quarter of the 28-23 win.

Same scenario a week earlier against Iowa State. West Virginia led 20-3 at halftime and held on for a 20-16 win.

West Virginia has seen such droughts before. In 2013, the Mountaineers failed to score second-half touchdown in three games over a four-game stretch.

Earlier this season West Virginia led Baylor, 38-13, entering the fourth quarter and held on to win 38-36.

Coach Dana Holgorsen called his offense's recent performances spotty and inconsistent. Offensive coordinator Jake Spavital has been left perplexed.

“I feel like sometimes we look like we're the greatest offense to ever walk the planet,” Spavital said. “And then the next drive we look like the worst offense to ever play the game.”

Sills has been among the more consistent Mountaineers. He caught two touchdown passes against the Wildcats, including a leaping catch as he was falling out of bounds in the back corner of the end zone and somehow got one foot down.

Sills leads the nation with 18 TD catches — seven more than anyone else. This week he was named a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation's top wide receiver.

The other two TD throws by quarterback Will Grier against Kansas State went to Ka'Raun White. Grier squeezed out the remaining seconds of the second quarter during a long scramble, saw White open and hit him with a 30-yard scoring pass.

But all of Grier's scrambling couldn't help after halftime, and now the Mountaineers must deal with a Texas defense that has held four opponents to 13 points or less.

“We've got to figure that out for this game coming up,” White said. “We got to change that.”

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