In the first showdown between West Virginia and Penn State since 1992, the Mountaineers found themselves in a familiar spot. The No. 7 Nittany Lions ultimately secured a convincing 38-15 victory, giving Penn State their 49th win in the series — but there’s more to the story than the final score.
The game started with West Virginia winning the toss and taking the opening kick, but they struggled to make a dent in Penn State’s defense. Despite some promising runs from CJ Donaldson, the Mountaineers were forced to punt. Penn State took the opportunity and quickly struck with a spectacular 72-yard touchdown pass to KeAndre Lambert-Smith, giving them an early 7-0 lead.
But West Virginia wasn’t ready to back down. They fought their way into the red zone with a gutsy fourth-down conversion and an impressive 37-yard pass to Devin Carter. CJ Donaldson completed the drive with a touchdown, tying the game at 7-all.
Penn State, however, wasted no time in regaining control with a 30-yard connection to Lambert-Smith, setting up a two-yard rushing touchdown by Nick Singleton to put the Nittany Lions ahead 14-7.
West Virginia had opportunities to strike back, but an incomplete pass on a critical fourth-down gamble gave the ball back to Penn State in WVU territory. Fortunately for the Mountaineers, Penn State kicker Sander Sahaydak missed the first of two second-half field goal attempts, leaving the score at 14-7 going into the half.
Out of the break, both teams took turns exchanging quick possessions. But Penn State seized the moment with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Lambert-Smith, extending their lead to 21-7. From there, they steadily built on their advantage, adding a field goal to make it 24-7 by the end of the third quarter.
West Virginia made attempts to mount a comeback but faltered on multiple crucial fourth-down plays, including an unexplainable attempt at a trick play with Nicco Marchiol when you only needed to pick up two yards. Penn State capitalized on these missed opportunities, establishing a commanding 31-7 lead with just over seven minutes left.
Although the Mountaineers managed a late touchdown and a two-point conversion, Penn State sealed the deal with another touchdown, securing a 38-15 victory.
While the final score may suggest a one-sided affair, it’s worth noting that the Mountaineers displayed moments of potential. However, that decision on 4th & 2 in a critical juncture of the game should be Exhibit One when the time comes for Wren Baker to make a decision on Neal Brown’s future.
Garrett Greene finished the night 16-of-27 passing for 162 yards and added a touchdown on the ground on a QB keeper. NC State transfer Devin Carter led the Mountaineers in receiving with six receptions for 90 yards. Former LSU tight end Kole Taylor showed that he can be a weapon with two catches for 31 yards.
As the Mountaineers return home with a 0-1 record, they’ll be looking to work out some frustrations against Duquesne for Family Day. The game will be broadcast exclusively on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ with kickoff set for 6:00 PM.