Wildcats comes up short against West Virginia at home

Offensive lineman Evan Curl stands on the field in Bill Snyder Family Stadium during the game against West Virginia in a vintage-print helmet. The Wildcats lost to the Mountaineers 24-20 On Nov. 16. (Dalton Wainscott I Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State fell short in a 24-20 loss to West Virginia Saturday afternoon in Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

K-State started off the game with a defensive stop, and then junior quarterback Skylar Thompson hit senior wide receiver Dalton Schoen for a 68-yard touchdown on the first offensive play of the game.

“It was our opening play, we anticipated the coverage we thought we were going to get,” Schoen said. “I faked him outside a little bit, and then went to the post and then Skylar just put it up there and let me run under it and make the play.”

After that strong opening, almost everything went wrong for K-State.

The Mountaineers responded with a pair of touchdowns sandwiched around a field goal from senior kicker Blake Lynch.

The second touchdown was a result of a Wildcat penalty on a missed West Virginia field goal. The penalty for leveraging saved the Mountaineer drive and they scored shortly after.

Lynch added a field goal towards the end of the second quarter to pull to within one point. K-State amassed 259 yards, but only had 13 points to show for it.

The Wildcats came out of the half and walked down the field for a touchdown. They went 70 yards in 13 plays, and ended with a three yard option run from senior running back James Gilbert.

K-State wouldn’t score again the rest of the game. Their drives went punt, punt, turnover on downs, punt, interception to seal the loss.

“Somebody’s got to step up and make a play,” head coach Chris Klieman said. “We weren’t able to sustain a running game and have a good enough running game to get us into second and shorts.”

Still, the Wildcats had a 20-17 lead with 14 minutes to play after a 51-yard field goal from West Virginia.

Then, when K-State had the same three-point lead and an opportunity to stop the Mountaineer offense dead in its tracks on 3rd and 22, disaster struck.

West Virginia junior quarterback Jarret Doege rolled out to his left and found freshman wide receiver Bryce Wheaton uncovered down the sideline. The busted coverage led to a 50-yard touchdown with just over 11 minutes to play.

“It was a blown coverage,” Klieman said. “That was a key factor, but there’s so many other things throughout the game that could’ve helped determine that fate. And obviously that’s a big play because everyone sees that’s a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, but we had our opportunities after that even.”

K-State certainly did have plenty of opportunities to win the game after that touchdown pass. They got the ball three more times, but the offense gained just 113 yards through the three drives and never sniffed the red zone.

On the final offensive drive, junior quarterback Thompson rolled out on 2nd and eight. He had a tightly covered Schoen on the West Virginia three. The ball was underthrown and intercepted to end the Wildcat threat.

Thompson finished the game 24-39 for 299 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions. K-State outgained West Virginia 421-319, and out-possessed them 35 minutes to 25 minutes.

K-State travels to Lubbock next weekend to take on Texas Tech in their final road game of the year.

Hi! I'm Nathan Enserro, an alumnus from Olathe, Kansas. I graduated in spring 2022 with a Masters in Mass Communication, and I graduated in spring 2020 with a Bachelor's of Science in strategic communications from K-State. I covered K-State sports for the Collegian for four years.