MORGANTOWN, WV - Right out of the gate, the Mountaineer defense nearly registered a sack and interception on the first play of the game thanks to the applied pressure by defensive end Jeffery Pooler Jr. Two plays later, Kansas State QB Will Howard threw his first interception of the day to Nicktroy Fortune, who secured his first pick of the year himself.
Kansas State's defense held strong after an 11-yard carry by Leddie Brown to move the sticks once for the Mountaineers and were forced to attempt a 51-yard field goal, which was missed by Evan Staley. The Wildcats found a little rhythm offensively following the missed kick. The big play on the drive was a 28-yard catch by tight end Briley Moore that moved the ball inside the West Virginia 20. The Mountaineer defense came up with a big stand after allowing the Wildcats to have first and goal from the two. Kicker Blake Lynch opened the lid on the scoring with a 21-yard field goal to take the early lead.
West Virginia responded with a 19-yard field goal of their own from Staley to knot the score up at three a piece. Prior to the field goal, Jarret Doege missed a wide open Sam James in the end zone, but sailed the throw too high. Neal Brown elected to go to the ground game three straight times and couldn't punch it in.
Kansas State had a great opportunity following the field goal to take the lead after getting great position off the big kick return by Malik Knowles. Fortunately for West Virginia, he threw his second interception of the day downfield to senior safety Sean Mahone who made an incredible play on the ball. Backed up inside their own 15, West Virginia went three and out and gave Kansas State great field position yet again, but the defense held and forced a 51-yard field goal which was missed by Lynch.
On the ensuing drive, QB Jarret Doege connected over the middle with Bryce Ford-Wheaton for a 58-yard gain and stumbled out of bounds at the seven yard line. A few plays later, Doege found Ali Jennings in the back of the end zone for a touchdown to give West Virginia its first lead of the day.
The Mountaineers extended the lead on the next series and once again, a big passing play downfield set up the score as Doege found T.J. Simmons for 32 yards. Running back Leddie Brown capped off the drive with a nine-yard touchdown that would be reviewed to see if he stepped out a yard or two shy of the end zone, but there was not enough conclusive evidence to overrule the call on the field. West Virginia took a 17-3 lead at the midway point of the 2nd quarter.
The scoring didn't stop there in the first half for the Mountaineers as they scored once again for the third consecutive drive. After a big pass play set up the two previous scores, this time it was Alec Sinkfield squeezing through a hole in the middle of the line and popping one for 36 yards. Jarret Doege found Winston Wright Jr. out in the flat for his 2nd touchdown pass of the day as Wright Jr. hugged the sideline for 15 yards to get the score.
After not registering any points on four consecutive drives, Kansas State finally found paydirt on a 35-yard bomb from Will Howard to Malik Knowles to cut the lead to 24-10 before the half. Corner Dreshun Miller got beat, but there seemed to be a bit of miscommunication prior to the play, which may have had an impact on the play.
West Virginia took the methodical approach on the opening drive of the 2nd half running 14 plays, eating up over five minutes of clock. Jarret Doege had a big 3rd down and 12 conversion in which he found tight end Mike O'Laughlin to pick up enough to move the chains. Kansas State's defense was able to hold the Mountaineers out of the end zone, but Casey Legg knocked in a field goal from 25 yards out. Evan Staley injured his leg earlier in the game on kickoff coverage.
Already trailing by 17, the Wildcats desperately needed to find a way to get some points on the board to stay within reach, but QB Will Howard threw his third interception on the day on a tunnel screen that was picked off by fifth-year senior and Bridgeport, WV native Dylan Tonkery who ran it back 18 yards for the touchdown to make it 34-10 with just under eight minutes to go in the third quarter.
Kansas State began to move the ball a little on the next possession by converting two 3rd downs, but that all came to an end after back-to-back sacks from Dante Stills and true freshman Akheem Mesidor.
The Mountaineers would tack on another field goal from Casey Legg in the 4th quarter, this time from 45 yards, stretching the lead out to 37-10. West Virginia's defense shutout Kansas State in the 2nd half and held them to just 73 yards of total offense and 8 yards on the ground.
West Virginia moves to 4-2 overall and 3-2 in Big 12 play and will travel to Austin next week for a big road test against the Texas Longhorns.
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