Holgorsen: Same Story As Last Week As WVU Rides Early Offense, Late Defense
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Same story, different game.
Such it was for West Virginia, which again amassed a first half lead before holding on, this time garnering a win in a venue in which it had been shutout previously.
After building a 28-20 halftime advantage, the Mountaineer offense was itself shut out in the second half, WVU again riding a defense that limited the opponent just enough to emerge victorious in the 28-23 decision at Kansas State. The game mirrored last week’s win versus Iowa State, when West Virginia entered halftime ahead 20-0 and held on for the 20-16 win.
“It was the same thing last week,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “We ran the ball better last week, but the defense has a lot to do with that. It’s the same thing. We made big plays to score on offense in the first half and the second half didn’t do anything on offense. The defense gave up plays, but the opponent’s offense didn’t score enough. It’s the same game. For two weeks in a row we found a way to win.”
Will Grier hit for 372 yards with four touchdowns and two tipped interceptions. Justin Crawford rushed for 113 yards, hiss second straight week over the century mark. Gary Jennings and Ka’Raun White both end over the 100-yard mark receiving, while White and Sills both caught two touchdown passes.
“I’m excited about winning the thing,” Holgorsen said. “I’m not quite sure how we won it other than defensively we came out there and played our tail off. Offense was hot and cold. Made some big plays, which is good, but at some point we have to be efficient. I don’t see an efficient offense.”
Not when five consecutive drives ended in punts and the team failed to score during the latter half once again. Kansas State tightened its coverage and continued to apply pressure to Grier, keeping the quarterback moving and forcing throws on the run. WVU’s best drive of the second half was, in fact, its last when it rode the run game to move the ball 34 yards in nine plays and seal the win.
“We got a lot of work to do when it comes to that,” Holgorsen said. “A lot of the other stuff I was happy with. Second week in a row the defense was able to go out there and shut them down. Deserved to win. Was good to get it.”
West Virginia finished off the Wildcats – and its first-ever win at K-State – with a key fourth down conversion when Grier found Gary Jennings for five yards on fourth and three. That moved the ball to the 26-yard line and two more first downs later, via Justin Crawford’s 14-yard run and a nine-yard grab by Jennings, the Mountaineers were taking a knee after advancing to 7-3 overall, 5-2 in the Big 12. Kansas State lost for the first time in three games, dropping to 5-5, 3-4 in league play.
“It was an easy call,” Holgorsen said of hiss choice to go for it. “I was disappointed with some of our third down calls. We didn’t do a good job putting the ball in play.”
Still, WVU’s defense allowed just three second half points, routinely stuffed Kansas State in the red zone and allowed just three of 12 third down conversions. The Wildcats tallied just 332 yards.