West Virginia is going bowling for the second straight year under Neal Brown, after the Mountaineers improved to 6-6 to close out the 2021 season on a 34-28 win over the Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence.
After winning the toss, Kansas opened the game with a 46 yard field goal to go up 3-0 early. West Virginia would look to respond, but the Jayhawks forced and recovered a Leddie Brown fumble at the WVU 24 yard line on the Mountaineers’ first offensive play of the game.
The Jayhawks were unable to capitalize on the fumble, as the WVU defense stepped up to force a turnover on downs at the 11 yard line. Jarret Doege found Sean Ryan and Kaden Prather on back to back 20+ yard passes to drive the Mountaineers downfield, and then hit Winston Wright on a 14 yard touchdown to put West Virginia up 7-3.
Kansas began putting together another good drive on their ensuing possession, but stalled out inside the red zone and had to settle for a field goal to narrow the lead to 7-6 with 2:07 remaining in the first quarter.
West Virginia continued leaning on the Doege-Wright connection, answering with another 14 yard touchdown to the Savannah, GA native to stretch the lead to 14-6, but the Jayhawks refused to go away.
KU responded with a touchdown drive of their own, as Jalon Daniels found Lawrence, Kansas Applebee’s spokesman Jared Casey in the endzone for an 8 yard touchdown to narrow the lead back to 14-13 with 7:24 left in the half.
West Virginia would tack on another touchdown a couple drives later, this time on a 7 yard reception by Sam James to go up 21-13 in the closing seconds of the half.
On the second West Virginia drive of the second half, Kansas’ Gavin Potter picked off a pass from Doege and returned it for a 28 yard touchdown. The Jayhawks converted a two point conversion to knot the score up at 21-21.
The Mountaineers would break the tie on the next drive, when Leddie Brown took over and capped a nine play, 75 yard drive with a 44 yard touchdown run to put WVU back up 28-21. Casey Legg would tack on a field goal a couple drives later to extend West Virginia’s lead to 10 in the closing seconds of the third quarter.
The Jayhawks would threaten again early in the fourth quarter, getting back into the red zone before Josh Chandler-Semedo picked off Daniels’ pass in the end zone. On the next play, Tony Mathis rattled off a 45 yard run, but the drive would end up stalling out. Legg would knock in a 37 yarder to further extend the lead to 34-21.
Chandler-Semedo picked off another pass from Daniels in the end zone, but the Mountaineers would end up giving the ball back to Kansas with 2:45 remaining. The Jayhawks capitalized with a quick five play scoring drive to keep their hopes alive, down 34-28.
Kansas’ onside attempt was recovered by WVU, and with the Jayhawks having no timeouts remaining, the Mountaineers were able to kneel out the clock and secure the victory.
Jarret Doege finished the night 16-of-21 passing (76%) for 170 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Winston Wright was on the receiving end of two of Doege’s three touchdowns, while Sam James hauled in the third. Sean Ryan led the receivers in yardage with 87 yards on five catches.
Leddie Brown racked up 156 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark for the second consecutive season. Tony Mathis added 118 yards of his own, a career high, on 22 carries.
COMING UP NEXT
The Mountaineers will learn their bowl destination next Sunday. The most likely destination is either the Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona against a Big 10 opponent, or the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee against an SEC foe. Both games are set to be played on Tuesday, December 28th, so start making plans accordingly.