It was a tale of two halves and luckily for West Virginia, the Mountaineers caught a break when they needed it most. West Virginia proved their offense is dangerous as they moved the ball against the Wildcats on their first possession. The Wildcats defense stiffened as the Mountaineers entered the redzone and forced the good guys to have to kick a field goal. Josh Lambert’s first field goal attempt of sailed wide and left the Mountaineers chasing points all game.
Following a Kansas State punt, the Mountaineers took over again and looked to take control of the game. Unfortunately, Skyler Howard’s first pass of the second drive was knocked out of Ka’Raun White’s hand for an interception. Typically a moment that Tony Gibson’s “#DAWGS” shine, the defense faltered following the interception, allowing the Wildcats to score their only touchdown of the game. Jesse Ertz scored from 2-yards out on a QB keeper.
The Mountaineers offense would stall following the interception and West Virginia entered halftime down 13-0 with only 173 yards of total offense. That would change in the second half.
West Virginia took the second half kickoff and moved 9 plays for 55 yards and finally got on the board with a Josh Lambert 37-yard field goal. Kansas State would counter with their final points of the game, a Matthew McCrane 22 yard field goal.
West Virginia would counter by moving the ball down to the Kansas State 2-yard line. Howard and Dana Holgorsen mixed runs and passes well as the offense found its rhythm. Rushel Shell received a handoff but fumbled the ball directly into the arms of Kendall Adams, squandering a chance to get back into the game.
The Mountaineers would force a punt and once again move the ball against the #1 defense in the nation. The Wildcats came into the game averaging less than 300 yards per game but the Mountaineers would easily break that mark. Following a Kansas State punt, the Mountaineers scored their first touchdown. Skyler Howard attempted a quick quarterback keeper but kneeled before running into the end zone. The Mountaineers would line up in the same formation for the very next play and give the ball to Justin Crawford who walked in to make the score 16-10.
Following the touchdown, the Mountaineers Rasul Douglas intercepted Jesse Ertz to end a promising Kansas State drive. The Mountaineers would waste the opportunity and go 3-and-out.
As the fourth quarter was winding down, Skyler Howard and the offense once again caught fire and moved the ball. A critical third down completion to Ka’Raun White put the ball on the Kansas State 11 yard line. Following a 4 yard run by Justin Crawford, Skyler Howard rolled out of the pocket and found Jovon Durante on a crossing pattern for a touchdown to give the Mountaineers a 17-16 lead.
Kansas State would drive the field and look to take the lead late in the fourth quarter. Tony Gibson and the defense stiffened and forced Kansas State to bring on kicker again for his fourth field goal attempt of the game. McCrane would push the ball wide left allowing the Mountaineers to start 4-0 for the first time since 2012.
Overall, the Mountaineers racked up 422 yards of offense, thanks to 298 yards from Skyler Howard and 124 yards rushing. Justin Crawford led the Mountaineers with 108 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown. Shelton Gibson continued to show his speed, with 104 yards on only 3 catches. The defense held Kansas State under 300 yards of offense, including allowing Jesse Ertz to complete only 10 of 30 passes. Kansas State gained 120 yards rushing but needed 42 attempts to reach that mark, averaging 2.85 yards per carry.