West Virginia football took its second straight loss after falling to the Kansas State Wildcats on the road 34-17 on Saturday.
The Mountaineers showed some slight improvement offensively from the week previous, but dire mistakes kept the Wildcats in front with an early lead. In fact, both of K-State’s first quarter touchdowns were capitalizations on Mountaineer mistakes, and those proved to make most of the difference in WVU’s loss.
The bad started early for West Virginia as Jarret Doege threw his first of two interceptions just two plays into the game. That gave the Wildcats solid field position, which they turned into seven points just six plays later.
A couple of drives later, the Wildcats added another touchdown on special teams. WVU was pinned on its own 16 and ready to punt, but Ty Bowman burst through the line untouched to block Tyler Sumpter’s kick — Marvin Martin picked it up at the 7 yard line and ran it in to make it a two-possession game.
West Virginia’s first points didn’t come until the final minute of the half as Casey Legg knocked through a 39-yard field goal — making up for a miss he had earlier in the quarter.
K-State continued to build on its lead out of the halftime break after another special teams miscue on the opening kickoff put the Wildcats deep in WVU territory. Eight plays later, Skylar Thompson tossed his only touchdown of the game to Sammy Wheeler, making it once again a three-possession game.
Thompson finished the game with a 74 completion percentage, but only picked up 138 yards and a touchdown.
WVU wasn’t out of it at this point, as Doege started to find a rhythm at the end of the third and into the fourth quarter. He led the Mountaineers on two straight touchdown drives, capping each off with a touchdown pass to get within a field goal.
The Wildcats answered on the ensuing drive to bring it back to a two-possession game, but the Mountaineer offense was killed by its own mistakes in the final minutes. WVU attempted to mount a comeback, but it was promptly killed by a Leddie Brown fumble just three plays into a crucial drive. K-State turned that into a field goal, but the game was truly sealed when Doege threw his second interception of the game with 57 seconds left.
Doege finished the contest with 268 yards, a pair of touchdowns and a pair of interceptions, making up more than half of WVU’s 345-yard offensive output. He connected with Winston Wright on six of Wright’s 10 targets for 33 yards and a score, but Bryce Ford-Wheaton’s 67-yard game on five catches led the way for the Mountaineers.
Leddie Brown finished iwth 85 yards on 20 carries, but fumbled twice, losing just one.
In all, the Mountaineers outgained the Wildcats, who put together 299 yards on the ground. The turnover battle wound up being the key in this game, however, as the Wildcats forced three takeaways without losing a turnover.
Deuce Vaughn led the game with 121 rushing yards, adding a touchdown and a pair of catches. Phillip Brooks paced the Wildcat receiving corps with 62 yards, but Wheeler’s three catches seemed to come at the most opportune times, as he added a touchdown and crucial fourth down conversion in the fourth quarter.
WVU falls to 4-6 on the season and 2-5 in the Big 12. The victory for K-State puts the Wildcats at 7-3 overall, with a 4-3 mark in the league.
Some individual Mountaineers achieved career milestones in this contest. Safety Sean Mahone, who finished with four total tackles, appeared in his 52nd career game, which puts him tied for second in program history. Dante Stills recorded his 100th career tackle on Saturday, but was unable to snag a tackle-for-loss to put himself solely in third on the program’s all-time TFL list.
West Virginia next returns to the field on Nov. 20 when it hosts Texas. Kickoff is set for noon ET.