K-State can’t find the end zone in opening Big 12 defeat

Sophomore quarterback Skylar Thompson runs the ball in Saturday's football game against West Virginia. The Wildcats were stifled against the Mountaineers, 35-6. (Courtesy photo by Temitayo Adesokan | The Daily Athenaeum)

The Kansas State football team began Big 12 play in rough fashion on Saturday, losing 35-6 to No. 12 West Virginia on the road.

Heisman candidate quarterback Will Grier led the Mountaineers, dismantling the Wildcat defense, throwing for 356 yards and five touchdowns.

K-State quarterbacks Skylar Thompson and Alex Delton did not fare as well, combining for 227 yards and zero touchdowns in the passing game.

The Wildcat defense made opportunities for the offense to get itself the lead early in the game, and to even possibly gain some momentum late in the game with four turnovers on the day.

There seemed to be promise for K-State after the defense forced two turnovers on West Virginia’s first two drives of the game, but the Wildcat offense could not capitalize on the opportunities.

After recovering a fumble with 7:41 left in the first quarter, K-State was forced to punt. Two plays later, Grier found wide receiver Marcus Simms for an 82-yard touchdown to start the scoring and put the Mountaineers up 7-0 at the 4:46 mark in the first quarter.

The second quarter was full of more offensive struggles for the Wildcats.

With the score still 7-0 with just under seven minutes to go in the second quarter, K-State was given another opportunity when West Virginia missed a 51-yard field goal attempt.

The K-State offense started at its own 34-yard line. Thompson threw the ball to wide receiver Isaiah Zuber for a nine yard gain. Two rushes for no gain and a four yard loss on fourth down gave the ball back to West Virginia.

West Virginia capitalized on the good field position by marching down the field and scoring on a one-yard touchdown pass from Grier to wide receiver David Sills V.

After another K-State punt late in the first half, the Mountaineers would execute a 57-second, seven play, 73-yard drive that ended in yet another one-yard touchdown pass from Grier to Sills.

With that score, West Virginia went into halftime ahead 21-0 with the game beginning to look out of reach.

At the half, K-State failed to get on the scoreboard and accumulated only 77 yards of offense, and was zero-for-five on third down.

K-State finally got a third down conversion on the opening drive of the second half, but was forced to settle for a field goal. Kicker Blake Lynch connected from 25-yards out to put the Wildcats on the board, 21-3.

The Mountaineers would respond with a 62-yard touchdown pass to Tevin Bush to extend the lead to 28-3.

West Virginia took over again at the 8:47 mark of the third quarter, recovering a Justin Silmon fumble at the K-State 17-yard line. Grier found Sills in the end zone for the third time to put West Virginia up 35-3.

An interception late in the third quarter by K-State defensive back Jonathan Durham led to a 38-yard field goal to bring the score to 35-6 at the 13:48 mark in the fourth quarter.

The Wildcat defense would get its third interception of the day off backup quarterback Jack Allison, but the offense failed to convert on a fourth down conversion. The Mountaineer offense came out in the victory formation to take a knee and run out the clock, coming out with a 35-6 win.

The Wildcats would finish the game with 318 yards on offense, and were held to only 91 rushing yards. The Mountaineers accumulated 464 total yards, with 356 of those yards were through the air.

The Wildcats will look to get back on track at home against Texas on Saturday in Manhattan.