Offensive Player of the Game: WR Tyler Lockett
There were plenty of notable performances for K-State on offense against the Mountaineers, including junior quarterback Jake Waters and senior running back John Hubert. But Tyler Lockett made some serious noise in his return from injury. The junior wide receiver finished with a team-high eight receptions for 111 yards and three touchdowns on the day, keeping the team in the game in the first half and leading the scoring bonanza in the second.
Head coach Bill Snyder was impressed with all of his receivers, complementing them on how they caught the ball.
“Once you go back and look at some of those catches, there are some extremely fine catches, and they held onto the ball after some serious contact,” Snyder said after the game.
Of all the fine catches against West Virginia, Lockett made some of the finest, including touchdowns of 35 and 24 yards from Waters. The 35-yarder came early on to open up the scoring for both teams, while his 24-yard score came late in the game to help seal the victory for K-State. However, his most impressive touchdown catch came in the third quarter from Daniel Sams. With 2:16 left in the period, Sams threw it high from nine yards out and Lockett made an impressive jump to grab the ball in the back of the end zone and, even more impressively, held on to it.
K-State’s two quarterbacks combined to go 18-21 against West Virginia, and Lockett had no small part in their combined successes. He has quickly developed into the Wildcats’ go-to receiver this season, and his performance Saturday showed why. Lockett made plays all over the field and even just the threat of his speed kept the Mountaineer defense on their heels.
“As a quarterback that’s what you want,” Waters said. “You want those guys that can go deep and just outrun guys.”
Just as impressive as his play on the field was his awareness. One of his touchdowns from Waters came after he noticed a hole in the defense. He let Waters know and the two connected for a big score in the back of the end zone.
It should go without saying that K-State’s offense is much more potent with Lockett on the field, as anyone could see by the fireworks he put on display in Saturday’s game.
Defensive Player of the Game: S Ty Zimmerman
K-State’s senior safety is probably the most important piece to their improving defense this season. Zimmerman made an impact in both the running game and the passing game, ranging all over the field to disrupt West Virginia and keep their offense from getting too comfortable.
The senior safety led the team with 12 tackles and added two pass breakups on the night. He also delivered some bone crushing hits to punish any West Virginia receiver who dared go over the middle to catch the ball.
Zimmerman was especially clutch late in the game as the Wildcats were trying to hold on to their lead and take their first Big 12 conference win of the season. The WIldcats came out of halftime down 9-7, and quickly found themselves in a 12-7 hole, but Zimmerman and the defense did not allow the Mountaineers to sniff the end zone again, keeping them off the scoreboard for the remainder of the game.
Holding the West Virginia offense to 367 yards was a big victory in itself for the Wildcat defense, especially holding them to under 100 rushing yards, the part of the game where Zimmerman makes his biggest impact.
“It was huge,” Zimmerman said. “We talked about it going in. We cannot give up the big plays, that is what hurt us against Baylor. We went to work on it this week in practice, but we still have to make corrections on the one we gave up. All in all, it was a good day.”
Zimmerman showed that he can be both the run stopper at the line and the safety net over the top against big passing plays against West Virginia. He continues to be a catalyst in Snyder’s steadily improving defense.