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INSTANT RECAP: West Virginia answers the call, hands NC State first loss

Neal Brown wasn’t playing around when he said there would be some shakeup, and it paid off.

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

“The best way I can tell you, is that if you continue to put stuff on video that isn’t good enough, then you have to make changes. If there are changes, it’s because guys didn’t put good stuff on video or they were beaten out.”

That was Neal Brown’s challenge to his team in his weekly press conference on Tuesday, after last week’s humiliating loss to Missouri. That challenge resonated with his team, as the West Virginia Mountaineers answered the call and turned in the team’s best performance this season in a 44-27 win over the N.C. State Wolfpack in Morgantown.

After a missed field goal on N.C. State’s opening drive, the Mountaineers took over and went right to work, going up-tempo on a 5 play, 66 yard drive that was finished off with a 20 yard touchdown pass to Sam James.

N.C. State answered with a touchdown drive of their own to tie it, but the Mountaineers kept the tempo going on their next drive to regain the lead on 23 yard run that ended with Kennedy McKoy steamrolling a Wolfpack defender at the goal line.

The Wolfpack would go on to score two more touchdowns to take a 21-14 lead, as West Virginia’s offense slowed down and began to sputter. With 3:13 left in the half, Neal Brown’s offense went up-tempo again and finished off a drive with an Austin Kendall touchdown pass to George Campbell to tie it at 21-21 at the half.

The second half was all West Virginia.

On the Wolfpack’s second drive of the half, the West Virginia defense forced a three-and-out and snatched all the momentum in the game when Logan Thimons blocked the ensuing punt. Three plays later, McKoy ran the ball in from 5 yards out for his second touchdown of the afternoon, putting West Virginia up 31-21.

N.C. State kicked a couple field goals on back-to-back drives to close the lead to 31-27, but that would be the closest they’d get.

West Virginia’s next possession saw Kendall scamper 25 yards on the fifth play of the drive, setting up a 9 yard touchdown pass to Ali Jennings — the first of his career — to put the Mountaineers up 38-27.

Two drives later, West Virginia took over on a failed 4th down attempt by the Wolfpack and Kendall handed off to Leddie Brown on four straight plays, ending with Brown taking it in from 3 yards out to give us our final score of 44-27.

Austin Kendall turned in a solid performance, going 27-of-40 passing for three touchdowns and one interception and added 33 yards on the ground on four carries.

The Mountaineers were finally able to get a run game going, with Kennedy McKoy leading the way with 66 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries. Leddie Brown added 35 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.

Sam James had a breakout game, finishing with nine catches for 155 yards and one touchdown. True freshman Ali Jennings caught three passes for 28 yards and a touchdown, and Florida State transfer George Campbell caught one pass for a touchdown — his third of the season.

On the defensive side of the ball, Hakeem Bailey led the team with 9 total tackles. Dante Stills recorded two sacks, and Reese Donahue added another.

West Virginia travels to Lawrence, Kansas next Saturday to take on a Kansas Jayhawks squad fresh off a shocking road win over Boston College. That game kicks off at 4:30PM ET and will be broadcast on ESPN+. Fans will need to subscribe to the service in order to watch the game.