MANHATTAN, Kansas – Kansas State was able to create a decent lead over West Virginia early in the first quarter, which created that push for Kansas. The long contents between the two teams have been going on for years, but this year Kansas took the win. The Wildcats were able to show up on the chilly Saturday afternoon and won 34-17.
Although Kansas State is not a ranked team currently, their defensive was making WVU’s offensive work for some yards. Kansas State created some big plays in all of the three phases, winning their fourth straight game of the season. The Wildcats improved to 7-3 (4-3 Big 12) with WVU dropping to 4-6 (2-5 Big 12).
“We played against a team today that didn’t do anything to beat themselves,” West Virginia head coach Neal Brown said. “Our guys played hard, but playing hard is not good enough. You’ve got to play smart and we just don’t play smart and we turned the football over.”
The game began with a 9-yard run made by Leddie Brown. Jarret Doege’s quick pass to Winston Wright Jr. hit off his shoulder pads and went right into the arms of Wildcats’ Russ Yeast.
Two touchdowns were made by Joe Ervin with a 2-yard rush following an interception by Yeast. Runs of 15, 5, and 7 yards by Deuce Vaughn, followed by a 22-yard run was able to move the ball to the WVU-2.
Following a punt made by Tyler Sumpter, WVU’s defense created an opportunity for the offense at the Wildcat 16 when linebacker Exree Loe stepped in front of quarterback Skyler Thompson’s pass, but VanDarius Cowan was called for roughing the passer with targeting. This gave Kansas 15 yards and a clean set of downs.
The second touchdown was created shortly after, in the opening half came off a punt blocked by Ty Bowman, Marvin Martin was able to recover the blocked kick and create a touchdown opportunity in seven yards to leave the first quarter 14-0.
A drive that began at its own 25 stalled at the Kansas State 30 when Doege’s third-down pass to Reese Smith was broken apart by Jahron McPherson.
Brown, who was able to get some points, called on Casey Legg to try a 47-yard field goal. His kick went too wide and went to the right of the goalposts, giving the Wildcats the ball at its 30. Kansas made the two first downs, but Scottie Young’s drive stalled at the 31 and tackled Vaughn for a 7-yard loss on third and 10.
Kansas State’s coach Chris Kileman decided to punt the ball from the WVU 38 and the ball was downed at the Mountaineer 4. A sack and two incomplete passes forced West Virginia to punt from its own end zone and the Wildcats wounded up with the football at the WVU 32.
Vaughn ran 12 yards to the WVU 20 where the Mountaineer defense got caught up, forcing Chris Tennant to kick a 32-yard field goal with 2:57 left to benefit the lead of Kansas to 17-0.
The Mountaineers put together a nine-play, 53-yard drive that took the ball to the Kansas State 22-yard line with 48 seconds. After the timeout, Doege’s third-and-5 pass to Wright Jr. fell incomplete. Legg came on to boot a 39-yard field goal with 18 seconds left.
Tennant’s conversion kick gave the Wildcats a 24-3 advantage.
WVU finally went over the goal line on the game’s next possession.
Brown’s third-down run for 20 yards was helped by wide receiver Kaden Prather, who attacked Brown’s fumble at the Kansas State 42. Prather aided the drive with two of the catches, one for 16 yards to the 24, and the other for eight on third and 6 to take the ball to the ball.
The Wildcats missed an amazing opportunity to score some more points when Vaughn’s gains of 38 and 13 yards got the ball to the WVU 9. With two unsuccessful runs, it forced a Tennant field goal from the 16 where he missed.
The Mountaineers were able to create some intensity on their next possession, and Prather was a factor. He made a first down catch on third and 4 at the WVU-27, and his 32-yard reception took the ball to the Kansas State-6.
On the fourth and goal from the 3, Doege was able to create a quick opportunity to pass to Wright Jr., who found his way through a couple of defenders to score a touchdown. Legg’s conversion kick made it a touchdown game with 11:50 left.
On the third and 7 at the Kansas State 40, Thompson meets with Brooks for 19 yards to the WVU 41. Three plays later, Kansas was faced with a fourth and 8 at the WVU 39. Thompson bashed with Wheeler for 35 yards down the line to the Mountaineer 4, where Vaughn wrapped things up with a touchdown run.
Brown fumble recovered by Reggie Stubblefield at the WVU 35 allowed the Wildcats to create a good percent of the remaining time before Tennant hit through a 25-yard field goal to double the Mountaineers.
A second interception from Doege allowed the Wildcats to run out the remaining 57 seconds.
“I’m not taking anything away from Kansas State, they are a quality football team and they played well today, but they didn’t do anything to get themselves beat and we did,” Brown said. “It’s disappointing and we’ve got to get it fixed period, but it’s disappointing.”
Looking at the defense, Alonzo Addae and Exree Loe shared honors for the defense with eight tackles each. Ten different players are held responsible for the 11 WVU TFLs, including Taijh Alston, who recorded his fifth sack of the season.
Quarterback Doege was under intense pressure all game with three sacks and hit on 45 pass attempts. 27 of those were completed for 268 yards, six going to wright Jr. for 33 yards. Ford-Wheaton caught five for 67 yards, and Brown caught five for 33 yards. Prather completed the day with four catches for 60 yards.
Brown led the rushing attack for the Mountaineers with 85 yards on 20 attempts.
The Mountaineers must now win its two remaining games of the season, against Texas next Saturday at the Milan Puskar Stadium and at Kansas on Nov. 27 to become eligible for the bowl.
Photo by Dale Sparks, All Pro Photography