MANHATTAN, Kan. — From rainy, chilly Bill Snyder Family Stadium, West Virginia needed the equivalent of a first-half Hail Mary and several second-half defensive stops to beat Kansas State 28-23 in a Veterans Day special.
The Mountaineers (7-3, 5-2) remained in the Big 12 race, while the Wildcats (5-5, 3-4) suffered another close loss in an ever-darkening season.
Recapping the live updates throughout the afternoon:
— West Virginia outgained the Wildcats 492-332 overall but were shut out in the second half for the second straight week.
— Will Grier finished 27-of-46 passing for 372 yards with four TDs and two INTs. His top receivers were Ka”raun White with eight catches for 168 yards and two scores, followed by Gary Jennings with 13 catches for 115. David Sills caught four for 63 yards and two more touchdowns to pad his FBs lead.
— Skylar Thompson’s first start for K-State saw the freshman complete 13-of-26 for 159 yards and two picks.
— Justin Crawford gained 113 yards on 17 carries, representing the bulk of WVU’s run game.
— K-State’s Dalvin Warmack temporarily surpassed 100 yards before ending with 96 on 14 attempts.
— On fourth-and-3 from the K-State 31, Holgorsen went for it and clinched the game: Grier’s 5-yard strike to Jennings picked up the first down. Crawford tacked on a 14-yard run and Jennings added a 9-yard catch.
— K-State, pinned at its 3, lost 2 yards before Thompson’s third-down pass to Zuber. Initially ruled a 20-yard catch, replay overturned it.
— (Same verse as the last.) West Virginia went three-and-out, remaining scoreless on five second-half possessions. This one ended with Gary Jennings dropping a crossing route.
— TURNOVER: Kansas State moved into the red zone, facing third-and-5 at the 19, when safety Kenny Robinson intercepted Thompson on a pass intended for Byron Pringle. K-State came up dry for a second time inside the Mountaineers’ 30.
— West Virginia went three-and-out, remaining scoreless on four second-half possessions.
FIELD GOAL: Mitch McCrane 39-yarder (12:44) WVU leads 28-23
K-State might have gotten more but Zuber was flagged for an offensive pass interference to negate a third-and-8 completion. The drive opened with Winston Dimel catching a 33-yard pass that should’ve belonged to Dylan Tonkery, whose “linebacker hands” will be mocked for another week. (Drive: 8 plays, 58 yards, 4:31)
— For the second time in this half, WVU punted from the K-State 36-yard line for a touchback. This time it was on fourth-and-12, so it’s hard to fault Holgorsen’s decision. (Trying a 53-yard field goal in the rain with an unproven kicker wasn’t on the table.)
— MISSED FG: You won’t see a kick more disputable than this one. Mitch McCrane thought his 42-yard kick was good and the K-State sideline erupted. The referee’s explanation: “All the football has to be inside the upright.” So much for breaking the plane on field goals.
— West Virginia gained 25 yards to relieve bad field position. Then, facing third-and-2 against a six-man box, Grier threw incomplete. Kinney’s 42-yard punt fell to Reed, who ran it back 44 yards to the Mountaineers’ 26.
— Thompson-to-Zuber gained 17 yards before the QB ran for 18 to get K-State rolling. Ultimately, a false start forced a third-and-12 pass on which the Wildcats were flagged for holding. Nick Walsh punted 42 yards to the WVU 3.
— David Sills, after making an impossible TD catch in the first half, drops a wide-open pass to start the second half. That left WVU facing fourth-and-7 at the K-State 36, where Dana Holgorsen opted to punt. The resulting touchback netted only 16 yards.
— WVU outgaining the Wildcats 340-192 despite trailing by 9 minutes in time of possession.
— Grier stands 16-of-28 passing for 275 yards with four TDs and two INTs. Skylar Thompson is 6-of-16 for 70 yards with that late interception.
— Dalvin Warmack has 97 yards on nine carries for K-State, while Crawford leads WVU with 56 yards on seven carries. Have to wonder if Crawford’s late fumble will cost him carries in the second half.
TOUCHDOWN: Ka’Raun White 30-yard pass from Will Grier (0:00) WVU leads 28-20
Wanting a quick gainer to set up a field-goal try, Grier held the ball until the pocket softened and scrambled, making this an all-or-nothing play. It worked out in amazing fashion when Grier heaved deep for White in the end zone. (Drive: 1 plays, 30 yards, 0:10)
— TURNOVER: K-State risked a screen pass and defensive end Ezekiel Rose picked it off with 10 seconds left.
— TURNOVER: Crawford’s fumble became WVU’s fourth turnover of the half.
TOUCHDOWN: Winston Dimel 2-yard run (1:33) WVU leads 21-20
K-State overcame horrible field position to produce a 93-yard drive. Dalvin Warmack’s 41-yard run, followed by Thompson’s 24-yard pass to Isaiah Zuber set the stage for the fullback’s second TD. (Drive: 7 plays, 93 yards, 3:20)
— WVU punted but only after Grier twice danced away from pressure — pure Flutie stuff — and overthrew receivers 60 yards downfield.
— K-State’s sixth punt of the half followed Kyzir White and Ezekiel Rose pressuring Thompson into a third-and-9 throwaway.
TOUCHDOWN: David Sills 4-yard pass from Will Grier (7:22) WVU leads 21-13
Sills’ 18th TD catch this season was his best — a lunging, toe-tapping grab in the back of the end zone that required replay to believe. The score was set up by a Grier-to-Jennings 43-yard catch on which the QB had like 10 Mississippi’s to throw. (Methinks Grier actually was throwing for Ka’Raun White, but Jennings came across the field for the leaping grab.) (Drive: 10 plays, 80 yards, 2:37)
— K-State quickly punted thanks to David Long stopping the QB keeper on third-and-2.
— TURNOVER: Crawford’s 17-yard run moved WVU out near midfield, but then WVU self-destructed. Kyle Bosch was flagged for holding and Grier’s pass glanced off Ka’Raun White’s hands for the day’s second interception. Denzel Goolsby pulled it in, though his 22-yard return was mostly negated by a block in the back.
TOUCHDOWN: Winston Dimel 1-yard run (12:44) WVU leads 14-13
Dalvin Warmack carried three times for 46 yards on the Wildcats’ first extended series of the afternoon. Thompson mixed in a 16-yard pass to Dominique Heath, and Dimel capped it with an old-fashioned fullback dive play. (Drive: 5 play, 63 yards, 2:05)
TOUCHDOWN: David Sills 16-yard pass from Will Grier (14:56) WVU leads 14-6
Suddenly the pass game is cooking. Sills got deep for a 43-yard grab along the sideline, and after swapping ends for the quarter break, Sills beat Reed inside on the slant. That makes 17 TDs caught this season by the NCAA leader. (Drive: 4 plays, 72 yards, 0:49)
— Al-Rasheed Benton sacked Skylar Thompson for 5 yards on first down and K-State suffered its fifth three-and-out in six possessions.
TOUCHDOWN: Ka’Raun White 75-yard pass from Will Grier (2:28) WVU leads 7-6
Snapping a string of 10 scoreless drives that dated back to the first half of the Iowa State game, West Virginia hit a big play when Duke Shelley came on a cornerback blitz. White burned safety Kendall Adams for his ninth TD this season and his seventh of the past six games. The Mountaineers felt like the safeties were K-State’s weak spot in a secondary that has yielded a ton of passing yards this season. (Drive: 1 play, 75 yards, 0:11)
— WVU didn’t turn the ball over, which looms as a victory given today’s events. After back-to-back 4-yard runs by Crawford, Grier’s third-and-2 pass for Ka’Raun White was incomplete. Billy Kinney’s 41-yard punt netted only 19 after Reed’s return crossed midfield.
FIELD GOAL: Mitch McCrane 21-yarder (7:30) K-State leads 3-0
K-State’s offense scored despite failing to manage a first down. In fact, the Wildcats lost a yard as WVU’s defense held strong. (Drive: 3 plays, minus-1 yard, 1:02)
— TURNOVER: Grier’s pass was tipped by Simms and intercepted by D.J. Reed, who returned it to the 3 where HE WAS STRIPPED by Simms. The ball trickled out of bounds close to the pylon (which would’ve returned the ball to WVU), but officials ruled the fumble never reached the goal line, so K-State retained possession.
— K-State punted after another three-and-out.
— Pinned at its 6, WVU went three-and-out, capped by Clark Davis sacking Grier.
— K-State did nothing with the fumble recovery, thanks to two incompletions, Askew-Henry kept pace with Winston Dimel on a deep seam route and Elijah Battle covered a slant pass to Isaiah Zuber. The Wildcats gained 4 yards on three plays.
— TURNOVER: West Virginia started at its 42 after Simms’ 17-yard punt return, but the drive last only two plays as Sills was stripped by D.J. Reed on a wide receiver screen. K-State took over at the Mountaineers’ 46.
— After an offensive pass interference flag for Dalton Schoen’s pick, K-State nearly converted a third-and-21 but Thompson’s pass skipped to Pringle.
— There was a major betting line shift during the hours leading up to the game. After K-State being a 2-point favorite all week, the line swung five points to make WVU a 3-point favorite at kickoff.
— Redshirt freshman Dylan Tonkery starting in Xavier Preston’s place at Sam linebacker for WVU.
— Cornerback Mike Daniels has returned to the lineup and defensive end Adam Shuler is back too, though he’s backing up Ezekiel Rose.
— The safety situation remains shuffled, with Kenny Robinson at free safety and Dravon Askew-Henry at the bandit. This originates from Toyous Avery’s hand injury.
— The Mountaineers are No. 23 in the AP, and K-State has dropped 11 straight games to ranked opponents dating back to 2014.
— Our MetroNews staff final score predictions for today: