Big 12 Sports Articles

Four Thoughts on Kansas State’s 34-17 Win Over West Virginia

K-State entered the penultimate home game of Skylar Thompson’s career as the Cats’ quarterback riding a three-game winning streak after having secured bowl eligibility against Kansas last week, 35-10. West Virginia entered the game needing to win two of its final three to reach bowl eligibility after having its offense shutdown by Oklahoma State last week in a 24-3 loss.

West Virginia’s offensive woes would continue in the first half against K-State as the Mountaineers could only muster a field goal with less than a minute left in the first half. K-State safety Russ Yeast intercepted WVU QB Jarrett Doege on the Mountaineers’ first possession of the game. The Cats cashed in on the turnover with a two-yard rushing TD by running back Joe Ervin. Later in the first quarter West Virginia backed up deep in its own territory, K-State’s Ty Bowman blocked a WVU punt, and Marvin Martin, a freshman from Vicksburg, MS, grabbed the ball of the bounce and raced seven yards to put K-State up 14-0. The teams traded field goals in the second quarter to end the first half with K-State up, 17-3.


After K-State struck on the first drive of the first half, West Virginia got its offense moving on back-to-back possession to cut K-State’s lead to 24-17 early in the fourth quarter. K-State answered, however, with a Deuce Vaughn TD to extend the lead to 31-17 after converting on 4th and 8 on a gutsy pass from Thompson to TE Sammy Wheeler. K-State’s Felix Anudike-Uzomah forced Leddie Brown to fumble on the ensuing possession to all but seal the game for K-State as the Cats moved the ball into the Red Zone before settling for a field goal to go up 34-17 with just under two minutes to play.


The Doege interception on West Virginia’s opening drive of the game and Brown’s fumble in the 4th quarter resulted in 10 K-State points and robbed the Mountaineers of opportunities to establish or retake momentum in the game. Fittingly, the Mountaineers’ final drive of the game was ended by a second Doege interception. In a game where West Virginia’s offense was unstoppable at times and the defense provided considerable resistance and often looked like the West Virginia defense of old, a handful of miscues doomed WVU’s hopes of getting just one game away from bowl eligibility.


While West Virginia’s turnovers doomed the Mountaineers, K-State’s special teams allowed the Cats to put some cushion on the scoreboard. The biggest play of the game was the blocked punt and scoop score which put K-State up 14-0 in the first quarter. However, Malik Knowles provided several excellent kickoff returns to consistently give K-State excellent starting field position.



Thompson had his worst day since returning from injury, completing 14 of 19 for 138 yards and a touchdown, but when the game got tight in the 4th quarter, he delivered. With WVU down just 24-17, Thompson delivered his best pass of the day on 4th and 8 at the WVU 39 to set up the touchdown that would essentially put the game away for the Cats. On K-State’s next drive, 4:22 remaining and West Virginia still holding onto two timeouts, Thompson took a quarterback draw six yards on 3rd and 5 for the first down, forcing WVU to start calling timeouts.


At 4-6, 2-5, the Mountaineers’ season is officially on life support. While a 6-6 finish would still be disappointing to WVU fans, getting to a bowl game is a must to maintain the momentum Neal Brown has built on the recruiting trail and with the program as a whole. Missing a bowl game would be a huge step backward and is likely to put serious some heat on Brown. A win over Texas, however, would all but guarantee WVU bowl eligibility with Kansas to close out the season. A bowl appearance would give WVU extra practices to close the season as well as the opportunity to finish 2021 with a winning record.

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