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2019 Season

Recap: West Virginia Opens Big 12 Play With a Gritty Win In Lawrence

Breaking down the Mountaineer’s win over the Jayhawks in the battle to stay out of the Big 12 basement.

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Martell Pettaway of the West Virginia Mountaineers finds a hole as he runs against Kansas - Getty Images - Ed Zurga
Getty Images - Ed Zurga

The Mountaineers and Jayhawks faced off in a matchup of two teams who seemed to resurrect their seasons in week three. West Virginia bounced back from an embarrassing display against Missouri and was able to blow out NC State. Meanwhile, Kansas rebounded from a home loss to Coastal Carolina by destroying Boston College on the road. Both teams entered this week with momentum and were looking to start Big 12 play with a win.

It was close, but the Mountaineer’s got that win in a bid to stay out of the Big 12 basement.

This game was dominated early by West Virginia. The Mountaineers forced an early three and out, and methodically marched down the field to go up 7-0. The Mountaineer defense forced a few more punts before Kansas was able to build any momentum.

However, West Virginia could not hold Carter Stanley back forever, and he hit a few big passing plays to tie the game at seven. Both defenses came to play in the second quarter and a last second Mountaineer field goal gave the Mountaineers a 10-7 lead at half time.

The second half was a little more lively. In the first eight drives, seven ended in scores and one ended in an interception. The biggest of those scores came when Martell Pettaway found a hole to give West Virginia a 12-point lead. West Virginia capitalized on a turnover and that score came off a key interception by Keith Washington, and gave them a lead Kansas was not able to overcome.

It was a highly competitive game, and one Kansas definitely could have won. That’s a huge upgrade from usual play for the Jayhawks and they are definitely heading in the right direction. And maybe that’s the takeaway in this one. That the bottom of the conference is still competitive, unlike some other conferences out there.

Key Plays of The Game

0:00 2nd [WVU 3rd & 6 at KU 24] – The Mountaineer’s offense was struggling after their opening drive. The field goal that hit the upright and bounced in was a huge score for West Virginia. It gave the Mountaineers momentum heading into the second half where their offense put up 19 points.

6:06 3rd [KU Kickoff] – The Jayhawks just kicked a field goal and were down by seven. Les Miles elected to call an onside kick and boy it worked like a charm. The only issue was the flag left on the field. By rule the kicking team has to let returning team catch the ball if the ball has not hit the ground yet. The flag gave WVU great field position and a free field goal.

12:30 4th [KU 2nd & 1 at KU 34] – The Jayhawks were only down by six at this point in the fourth quarter and had the ball with a chance to take the lead. Carter Stanley tried to fit a tight window and Keith Washington tipped the ball to himself for a huge interception. The Mountaineers scored the eventual game winning touchdown on the next drive.

Key Stats of The Game

103 Rush Yards – That is how many yards both Pooka Williams and Khalil Herbert combined for Kansas. That’s leaps and bounds less than they had against Boston College. The Mountaineer defense did a great job of holding two of the best players on the field in check.

0 Turnovers – The Mountaineers turned the ball over zero times. in the second half when it almost became a mini shootout the fact West Virginia was able to keep the ball was huge. Kendall wasn’t great but he didn’t make any throws that he regretted.

85 Plays – West Virginia ran 85 plays compared to Kansas’ 56. That doesn’t necessarily mean dominance but it does mean that the Mountaineers had more chances and played more offense. It’s a stat that shows how West Virginia, especially early, got off the field when they had the chances.

West Virginia Key Players

  • Martell Pettaway – 6 carries 40 yards 2 TD
  • Keith Washington Jr – 1 tackle 1 INT

Kansas Key Players

  • Carter Stanley – 19/25 275 yards 3 TD 1 INT
  • Andrew Parchment – 5 catches 132 yards 2 TD

Remaining Thoughts

Martell Pettaway Needs More Carries – In the rotation that is the West Virginia backfield, Martell Pettaway has been the odd man out. He hasn’t seen a lot of carries recently and that continued today. He only got the ball six times but made the most of it. 40 yards and two touchdowns later, Pettaway delivered for WVU. He needs to see the ball more.

Kansas Will Win at Least One Conference Game – The Jayhawks looked good. A few bounces go their way and they would be celebrating right now. Kansas looks like a revamped program and that starts from the top. Head coach Les Miles has reenergized this program and has got his team playing hard. it didn’t come today but Kansas should steal at least one game in conference play this season.

Austin Kendall Still a Work In Progress – Unfortunately Kendall still hasn’t been where West Virginia fans thought he could be. He’s an okay quarterback but his deep ball still isn’t there and his decision making is questionable. He also continues to struggle to read his pocket. Kendall probably isn’t in much danger of loosing his job but he definitely needs to improve with the Mountaineers brutal October stretch coming up.

Game Highlights

Post-Game Press Conferences

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