MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — In a make-or-break moment, West Virginia came up with two late red-zone stops and held on for a 20-16 win over No. 15 Iowa State.
Per weekly custom, we had live updates throughout the game:
— WVU outgained Iowa State 524-350
— Will Grier completed 20-of-25 passes for 316 yards and two touchdowns, Justin Crawford ran for 102 yards on 25 carries, and Ka’Raun White caught four passes for 167 yards.
— Don’t overlook Kennedy McKoy’s 60 yards on 12 carries, including that last clock-chewing drive.
— Kyle Kempt finished 27-of-40 for 249 yards with a touchdown and an interception, falling to 4-1 as the Cyclones’ starter.
— Iowa State’s David Montgomery ran for 115 yards on 26 carries.
— Hakeem Bailey led WVU with 10 tackles and Dylan Tonkery made nine for a defense missing four starters in the second half.
— WVU took over with 2:52 left. After two negative-yardge plays, McKoy picked up just enough on a third-and-17 draw. The Mountaineers milked the clock.
— Iowa State’s fourth-and-7 try at the WVU 37 was knocked down by Kenny Robinson. Several plays earlier Trever Ryen bobbled a potential huge gainer, allowing Hakeem Bailey to break it up.
— TURNOVER: Grier’s potential 33-yard touchdown pass to David Sills was stripped away for an interception by D’Andre Payne. West Virginia milked 2:22 off the clock but 4:57 remained.
FIELD GOAL: Garrett Owens 24-yarder (7:19) WVU leads 20-16
West Virginia’s red-zone defense made another stand. The Cyclones reached the WVU 7 but Kempt’s pass for Montgomery at the goal line was incomplete. (Two nice coverage plays by Davon Askew-Henry prevented touchdowns by Lazard and Montgomery.) Earlier in the drive, Hakeem Butler gained 26 on third-and-7 and Trever Ryen picked up 7 on third-and-6. (Drive: 13 plays, 67 yards in 4:59)
— West Virginia’s third scoreless drive of the second half started with a 33-yard catch by Ka’Raun White but ended with a no-call on cornerback D’Andre Payne, who grabbed receiver Marcus Simms on a third-down incompletion.
— Iowa State started at its own 12 and reached the 41 before punting on fourth-and-1
— Another short-yardage attempt didn’t go West Virginia’s way. ISU linebackers Marcel Spears and Joel Lanning stuffed Pettaway’s third-and-1 run for a yard loss near midfield. WVU punted.
FIELD GOAL: Garrett Owens 18-yarder (2:29) WVU leads 20-13
Matt Campbell made the curious decision to kick a field goal on fourth-and-goal at the WVU 1. Guess he figured he couldn’t win the game on that series, would only risk losing it. Hakeem Bailey was twice flagged for pass interference, once on a third-and-10 incompletion for Lazard. That one looked more egregious than the next flag, though Bailey appeared to hook Matthew Eaton before a second-and-10 pass whizzed by. (Drive: 10 plays, 65 yards in 3:39)
— Iowa State’s defense kept the comeback momentum building, thanks to a fourth-and-1 stop at their 34-yard line. Willie Harvey was credited for the tackle in a pile of bodies that left Pettaway one link of the chain short.
TOUCHDOWN: Allen Lazard 1-yard pass from Kyle Kempt (10:48) WVU leads 20-10
Lazard struck for 14 yards on a third-and-8 crossing route and capped the drive by lining up in the slot on third-and-goal and out-bodying Hakeem Bailey. Iowa State’s best drive of the day also featured a 15-yard run by Montgomery (including a Bailey facemask) and Hakeem Butler’s 25-yard on a rub route down the sideline. Coming out of the half, this felt like a must-have series for the Cyclones. (Drive: 10 plays, 86 yards in 4:08)
— The Mountaineers outgained Iowa State 365-112 in the first half.
— Will Grier 12-of-13 passing for 233 yards, balanced by WVU’s 29 runs that gained 132.
— Ka’Raun White’s 134-yard half leaves him just 4 yards shy of a career-high.
— Justin Crawford has already matched his season-high with 19 carries at the half. He has 83 yards to show for it.
— West Virginia’s late chance at adding to the lead ended with Staley pulling a 34-yard kick wide left, his first miss of the season in four chances.
FIELD GOAL: Garrett Owens 42-yarder (1:46) WVU leads 20-3
Words that will live in infamy from referee Dan Romeo: “Someone is shining a laser at the kicking team.” Despite the interruption, Owens got Iowa State on the board on the kind of drive that haunts Tony Gibson. WVU had Hakeem Butler stopped for a loss on third-and-11 only to see TWO personal fouls give the series new life. (Al-Rasheed Benton inadvertently grabbed Butler’s facemask and Marvin Gross was flagged for a hit on Butler in the pile-up.) (Drive: 8 plays, 43 yards, in 4:27)
FIELD GOAL: Evan Staley 36-yarder (6:20) WVU leads 20-0
Jake Spavital told me this week he wanted to stick with the running game longer than he had in recent weeks, and nine runs on a 10-play drive seemed to be proof. Crawford popped a 21-yarder and the lone pass on the series wa a 7-yarder to Jennings. WVU faced only one third down, at the Cyclones 18, which the defense spoiled with a corner blitz. (Drive: 10 plays, 50 yards, in 4:18)
— Iowa State punted after a three-and-out.
TOUCHDOWN: Ka’Raun White 55-yard pass from Grier (11:59) WVU leads 17-0
Iowa State needs to rethink its third-and-long defense against White after two catches for 118 yards. But it was an all-around productive drive for the Mountaineers, who ran it off the goal line with Crawford and then picked up a third-and-4 on a draw by Martell Pettway. A holding flag on Yodney Cajuste negated most of Pettaway’s pickup, setting the stage instead for Grier to fire deep. (Drive: 9 plays, 94 yards in 3:01)
— Though Iowa State didn’t score, it flipped the field by moving from its own 3 to midfield and punting WVU back to its 6-yard line.
— WVU looked committed to the run game. Ran it six straight times — four by Crawford, twice by Grier on scrambles. On fourth-and-2 at the Iowa State 40, the offense appeared ready to tempo before defensive end JaQuan Bailey dropped to the ground with a left-leg situation (cue the boos). After Bailey’s injury timeout, WVU opted to punt and Billy Kinney pinned a 37-yard wedge at the 3-yard line.
— Zeke Rose sacked Kempt to forced third-and-21 before a draw play to Montgomery gained 19 of that back. Iowa State punted on fourth-and-2 from its 33.
FIELD GOAL: Staley 27-yarder (10:02) WVU leads 10-0
West Virginia didn’t fully cash in after the turnover, though it did manage three points. Grier’s 18-yard pass to Jennings got the drive rolling before Crawford carried four times for 16 yards. His best run was a third-and-4 inside run on which he made Joel Lanning miss and picked up 7. On the next third-and-4, however, ISU deflected Grier’s slant pass to Sills at the goal line. (Drive: 8 plays, 37 yards, in 2:37)
— TURNOVER: Kempt’s risky swing pass bounced off linebacker Dylan Tonkery and led to a diving interception by Al-Rasheed Benton at the Cyclones’ 48.
TOUCHDOWN: David Sills 10-yard pass from Grier (13:39) WVU leads 7-0
After a third-and-8 breakdown in ISU’s secondary, Ka’Raun White had a 78-yard touchdown in his sights. But he veered out of bounds at the 10-yard line, and following a lengthy review, WVU needed an extra play to score. That benefited Sills, who caught his FBS-leading 16th score. (Drive: 4 plays, 75 yards, in 1:21)
— As MetroNews first tweeted on Thursday, Mike Molina remains out with hip injury and Evan Staley will handle the place kicking. Bandit safety Toyous Avery (hand) also remains sidelined, meaning Dravon Askew-Henry will shift to Avery’s spot and freshman Kenny Robinson backfills for Askew-Henry at free safety.
— Bigger pregame injury news involves linebacker Xavier Preston, defensive end Adam Shuler and reserve nose tackle Jalen Harvey being out also.
— The Mountaineers are 2-point favorites.
— West Virginia play-caller Jake Spavital on Iowa State’s safe-and-sound defense: “They don’t do much — they’re just very, very sound at it.”
The Cyclones rank 21st nationally in points allowed (18.8) and 32nd in total defense (347 yards), and they’re giving up fewer than 13 points per game during wins over Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas Tech and TCU.
— This week’s “Sweet Spot with A.T.” podcast was another 55 minutes of pure gold, especially the 90 seconds where Keenan Cummings mistakenly cut off his mic.
— Regardless of what transpires after kickoff, today’s hero of the game is 104-year-old Jim Downing, a retired Navy lieutenant and the second-oldest survivor of the Pearl Harbor attack. Hoppy Kercheval wrote about Downing and why hearing the bell from the U.S.S. West Virginia will be an emotional experience.
— Our MetroNews staff picks for today’s game: