Chris Klieman and the Kansas State Wildcats trudged off their home turf Saturday afternoon, heads hanging after a loss that players and coaches alike admitted was a surprise to them.
The 24th-ranked Wildcats fell to West Virginia 24-20 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, suffering their second consecutive loss and falling to 6-4 on the season.
“You have to bring it every single week in this league of you’ll get beat,” Klieman said after the game. “West Virginia made a lot more plays than we did. Give those guys credit.”
Given three chances to erase a four-point deficit, K-State was held off the board in the final quarter after taking a 20-14 lead on the first drive of the second half.
K-State took the first lead of the game on their first offensive snap, a 68-yard play-action bomb from Skylar Thompson to Dalton Schoen for a touchdown. West Virginia’s response was immediate, as they went 75 yards in just six plays and scored on a 19-yard pass from Jarret Doege to George Campbell to tie the game at 7-7.
Blake Lynch’s 22-yard field goal on their next drive put the Cats ahead 10-7, but the Mountaineers took the lead on the ensuing drive. A missed field goal was wiped out on a personal foul penalty on K-State’s Trey Dishon for hitting the long snapper illegally, which gave WVU a fresh set of downs, and on a third-and-long, they turned that second chance into six points, Doege hitting Campbell again for a 15-yard score that made it 14-10. The score held that way until Lynch drilled a 33-yard field goal with 0:43 left in the first half. West Virginia had a chance to restore a four-point advantage before the end of the half, but Casey Legg missed a 37-yarder on the final play of the half.
James Gilbert’s three-yard touchdown run gave K-State the lead back, 20-14, on the opening drive of the second half and capped off a vintage Wildcat march – 13 plays, 70 yards, and 7:04 off the clock. A 51-yard field goal by Legg pulled the Mountaineers back within three points with 14:07 left in the fourth quarter, and then West Virginia went back in front, 24-20, on Doege’s 50-yard heave to Bryce Wheaton on a third-and-22 with 11:27 left.
K-State’s defense held strong the rest of the way, giving the Wildcats offense a chance to go win the game. Their final chance came with 2:53 to play. K-State drove from their own 8 to the WVU 30, but a deep pass from Thompson to Schoen was underthrown and intercepted with 0:28 left to effectively end the game.
“Skylar is a great competitor and he’ll bounce back,” Klieman said.
The Wildcats outgained WVU 421-319, but were minus-2 in the turnover department. Thompson threw for 299 yards on 24-of-39 passing but threw his second and third interceptions of the season. K-State’s rushing attack struggled for a second consecutive week, gaining just 3.2 yards per carry on 38 attempts.
Next Saturday, K-State heads to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech in their final road game of the season.