The Mountaineers finally snapped their 5-game skid behind a rock-solid first start from Jarret Doege, beating the Kansas State Wildcats 24-20 in Manhattan.
It wasn't the most auspicious of starts. West Virginia opened with a quick 3-and-out, and when Kansas State struck with a 68-yard touchdown in their first play from scrimmage it was easy to fear the worst. However, the Mountaineers' answer immediately justified Neal Brown's decision to start Doege, as the Bowling Green transfer capped a 6 play, 75-yard drive with a beautiful pass to George Campbell on a wheel route. A second touchdown pass to Campbell followed a Kansas State field goal, and the Mountaineers held a 14-10 lead heading into the 2nd quarter.
The 2nd quarter was largely uneventful. The teams traded punts and turnovers for much of the period before Kansas State converted a 33-yard field with just 43 seconds remaining in the half. Doege led an impressive 4 play drive to get the Mountaineers within field goal range, and though Casey Legg's 37-yard kick was ultimately pulled wide left, the Mountaineers went into the break with a surprising 14-13 lead.
State opened the 2nd half with a statement, as Thompson led them on a 13-play touchdown drive that ate up almost half of the third quarter clock. The teams again traded punts before Legg atoned for his earlier miss by drilling a 51-yarder to pull the Mountaineers to within 3 with just 14:07 remaining.
Those last 14 minutes are hopefully what we'll remember in a few years as the unofficial start of the #TrustTheClimb era paying dividends under Neal Brown. Vic Koenning's defense, which was absolutely stellar for much of the afternoon, came out and forced a 3-and-out, giving the offense great field position near midfield. A pass interference call advanced the ball to the K-State 37, but after a sack, a 1-yard gain, and a false start, the offense was staring at 3rd and long and appeared primed to squander the defense's good work as they'd done so many times before. However, after Doege was flushed from the pocket he was able to find Bryce Wheaton wide open behind the Wildcat defense for a 50-yard busted coverage touchdown that provided the go-ahead and ultimately game-winning score.
Koenning's defense again held firm on the following drive, forcing a turnover-on-downs after State had driven into West Virginia territory, and then sealed the deal after the teams traded 3-and-outs by intercepting a Thompson pass inside the 5-yard line with just 28 seconds remaining.
Doege was obviously the story of the day, completing 20/30 passes for 238 yards and 3 touchdowns. Leddie Brown and Kennedy McKoy both had their best days at the office in over a month, taking advantage of the space afforded by our newly respectable passing game to combine for 103 yards on 25 carries. George Campbell also had his best day as a Mountaineer, hauling in 5 passes for 92 yards and 2 touchdowns in addition to his customarily stellar special teams play. Defensively, Josh Norwood and Hakeem Bailey both provided interceptions while the defensive front continued their strong play by generating 2 sacks and 9 TFL.
The Mountaineers return home next weekend for a pre-Thanksgiving feast with the 25th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys. Kickoff time has yet to be determined, but an announcement should be made either later this evening or early tomorrow.