Chunk plays stun Kansas at No. 14 West Virginia
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Fourteen separate plays of 20 yards of more by No. 14 West Virginia put Kansas in a hole it wasn’t able to climb out of as the Jayhawks fell, 48-21, Saturday evening inside Mulan Puskar Stadium.
Kansas (1-8, 0-6 Big 12) put itself in decent positions to stop West Virginia (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) throughout the first half, but large gains by Mountaineer rushers provided a stimulus to put points on the board. Two Mountaineers eclipsed 100 yards as Kennedy McKoy tallied 127 yards on 18 carries, while Justin Crawford contributed a score to go along with his 129 yards on 13 attempts. McKoy, Crawford and quarterback Skyler Howard (11 carries, 64 yards and two touchdowns) each registered runs of 33 or more yards.
Kansas sophomore wide receiver Steven Sims Jr., led the offense’s production with nine catches for 124 yards and a touchdown. Sims has now gone over 100 yards four times this season. Senior running back Ke’aun Kinner earned each of his 65 yards on the ground and contributed KU’s first touchdown of the game in the third quarter.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Carter Stanley took over for redshirt junior Montell Cozart late in the third quarter and completed 9-of-11 passes for a career-high 127 yards and a personal-best two touchdowns. The Vero Beach, Florida native also managed 34 yards on the ground.
West Virginia took the game’s opening drive and quickly got on the board with a field goal. The 35-yard try was set up in large part by the first big gain of the night – a 40-yard completion down the left sideline from Howard to Shelton Gibson.
Later in the first quarter Kansas advanced the ball to midfield but elected to quick-kick on fourth-and-2 to the WVU 23-yard line. A 44-yard off-tackle run by McKoy set up the Mountaineers deep in Kansas territory at the 30-yard line. Howard finished off the drive with a 3rd down keeper up the middle for 22 yards, West Virginia 10, Kansas 0 with 2:20 to play in the first quarter.
After the offense didn’t have any luck moving the ball on its next drive junior punter Cole Moos pinned West Virginia on its own 5-yard line. With the help of a McKoy 24-yard run and a 25-yard rush by Gibson, the Mountaineers were poised to add another touchdown after driving 93 yards on 11 plays and facing goal-to-go on the KU 1-yard line.
On fourth down with three backs behind Howard, the Mountaineers dialed up an off-tackle run to the left when redshirt freshman Shaquille Richmond made the biggest play of his young career and upended the WVU runner for a loss of a yard and a turnover on downs.
The Jayhawks couldn’t get the ball out of their end zone after the clutch stop by the defense and punted to the WVU 47-yard line. The Mountaineers answered by piecing together a four-play, 52-yard drive capped by Howard’s second rushing touchdown of the contest, this one of 33 yards, 17-0, with 8:27 to play in the first half.
Howard completed the game’s first passing touchdown with 3:04 to play in the second quarter to complete a seven-play, 72-yard scoring possession. Howard connected with Shorts for seven yards to go up, 24-0.
Just before halftime West Virginia went 56 yards in five plays to add another touchdown on the board, 31-0. Howard completed a 19-yard pass to Gibson for the score.
Sophomore defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr., created KU’s only takeaway of the game by forcing Howard to fumble on an option play on the first drive of the third quarter. Senior linebacker Courtney Arnick recovered the loose ball at West Virginia’s 29, leading to a Kansas touchdown.
Kinner shouldered the offense on five plays and gained the necessary 29 yards to get Kansas on the board, 31-7, with 11:01 to play in the third quarter.
With West Virginia leading, 45-7, Stanley connected with sophomore running back Taylor Martin, who cut up field and blazed down the sideline to take it 45 yards to the end zone. Martin’s catch-and-run ended a seven-play, 74-yard drive and the Jayhawks trailed, 45-14.
Stanley tossed his second score of the night on an 11-yard strike to Sims, capping an 80-yard drive, 45-21, with 11:46 remaining. Forty of the 80 yards were gained on one play as Sims completed the first pass of his career to senior fullback Michael Zunica.
The two teams exchanged several possessions throughout the second half without putting points on the board. West Virginia registered the game’s final points with a 39-yard field goal at the 9:53 mark of the fourth quarter, ending the game, 48-21.
UP NEXT: After a two-week road swing, Kansas returns home to Memorial Stadium for an 11 a.m., kickoff against Iowa State on FSN.
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