Senior place-kicker Matthew McCrane connected on three field goals to break the K-State record for most field goals in a career, DJ Reed forced two turnovers on defense and the Wildcats held West Virginia scoreless in the second half, but the No. 23 Mountaineers held on for a 28-23 win at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Saturday.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The K-State defense was active early, causing havoc for the Mountaineers offense. On the first defensive possession, Reed, K-State’s junior corner, forced and recovered a fumble for the game’s first turnover. On the subsequent WVU possession, senior defensive end Davis Clark sacked Mountaineer quarterback Will Grier for a four-yard loss, causing the second consecutive empty possession for the Mountaineers.
Later in the first quarter, Reed registered his second forced turnover of the game, after Grier’s pass was tipped into the air and nabbed by Reed who returned the interception to the West Virginia three-yard line. Reed’s second turnover led to the first points of the game, as Lou Groza semifinalist McCrane connected on a 21-yard field goal to tie K-State great Martin Gramatica’s career mark. McCrane would add another field goal later in the first quarter to extend the K-State lead to 6-0 and position himself at the top of the leaderboard.
The celebration was short lived however, as West Virginia responded with a one-play, 75-yard touchdown strike from Grier to wide receiver Ka’Raun White who escaped the Wildcat secondary. Grier connected on another touchdown pass to David Sills V from 16-yards out as part of a 14-0 swing to push the Mountaineer lead to 14-6.
The Wildcats first offensive possession of the second quarter resulted in the team’s first touchdown of the game, as running back Dalvin Warmack set up the Wildcat offense at the one-yard line following a 22-yard carry. Junior fullback Winston Dimel capped of the drive with a one-yard touchdown carry to bring the score within one at 14-13.
Before halftime, both teams traded punches as the Mountaineers struck on a four-yard touchdown pass to Sills, and K-State matched with a 2-yard touchdown rush by Dimel, his second of the day. Just before the break, a screen pass was nabbed by a WVU lineman and Grier aired out a 30-yard touchdown to White with time expiring to give his side a 28-20 advantage.
Coming out of the break, the third quarter was scoreless as the Wildcats marched down the field but came up empty on a 32-yard field goal attempt – ruled a miss as the ball sailed above the top of the upright and wasn’t fully inside. On the following possession, K-State benefitted from another McCrane field goal, this time from 39-yards out to bring the score to 28-23, West Virginia.
With under 10 minutes left in the game, Thompson and the Wildcat offense were moving down the field before another untimely interception as a WVU defender jumped in front of a Thompson pass and returned the interception for 37 yards to the K-State 48-yard line. The Wildcat defense was able to force West Virginia to a three-and-out, but pinned deep inside its own territory, K-State couldn’t get a drive going and West Virginia got a pair of first downs while running out the clock.
The K-State offense compiled 332 total yards of offense, including 173 that came on the ground as the Wildcats controlled the time of possession for 36:01. The Wildcats converted 3-of-5 opportunities in the red zone. Defensively the Wildcats forced four turnovers that resulted in three points, all of which came in the first half, as the team allowed 492 total yards of offense to the Mountaineers in the game.