West Virginia takes down Wildcats
The constants that had carried No. 16-ranked Kansas State to a share of the Big 12 lead were nowhere to be found.
West Virginia wouldn't allow it.
Instead the Mountaineers had their way both offensively and defensively while neutralizing K-State's special teams and winning the turnover battle for a 37-10 victory Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium.
It was the first conference loss for K-State, which fell to 4-2 overall, 4-1 in the Big 12. West Virginia improved to 4-2 with a 3-2 league record.
The Mountaineers took control with three straight second-quarter touchdowns and then slammed the door defensively in the second half, limiting K-State to 225 yards total offense, including 41 on the ground.
West Virginia finished with 485 yards total offense, with quarterback Jarret Doege completing 22 of 34 passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns. The Mountaineers also had 184 yards on the ground, with Leddie Brown gaining 102 and Alec Sinkfield 85.
West Virginia, which led 24-10 at intermission, did not make Will Howard pay for a pair of first-half interceptions, but the third was a charm for the Mountaineers. Linebacker Dylan Tonkery broke up a screen pass and took it 18 yards for a touchdown for a 34-10 lead with 7:51 to go in the third quarter.
West Virginia got the ball to start the second half and immediately padded its two-touchdown lead, though after picking up a first and goal at the K-State 8, the Mountaineers had to settle for a 25-yard Casey Legg field goal that made it 27-10 with 9:16 left in the third.
Kansas State's defense, which had made its living by avoiding explosive plays and forcing turnovers came up short on both counts in the first half as West Virginia took control. All three Mountaineer touchdowns were set up by plays of 30 or more yards — two through the air and one on the ground.
West Virginia broke a 3-3 tie with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Doege to Ali Jennings with 12:27 left in the half, capping a six-play, 60-yard drive highlighted by a 58-yard completion to Bryce Ford-Wheeler.
The Mountaineers then took advantage of a short field, driving 51 yards and going up two touchdowns on a 9-yard Brown run. Doege's 32-yard completion to T.J. Simmons moved the ball to the K-State 21.
A 36-yard run by Alec Sinkfield put the ball at the Wildcat 16-yard line on the next possession, setting up Doege's 15-yard touchdown strike to Winston Wright at the 8:31 mark.
K-State did come back with a 73-yard drive to close the half as Howard hit a wide-open Malik Knowles with a 35-yard pass on a post route to cut it to a two-score game.
West Virginia rolled up 280 yards total offense in the first half, 102 rushing and 178 through the air. K-State managed just 33 yards on the ground in the half, and Howard was 12-of-24 passing for 119 yards with two interceptions.