Kansas State improved to 8-3, 6-3 in the Big 12 with a convincing 48-31 win on the road at West Virginia (4-7, 2-6 Big 12) on Saturday.
A high-scoring first half saw the Wildcats take a 41-25 lead into halftime after K-State quarterback Will Howard threw two first-half touchdowns, including a 39-yard completion to Kade Warner.
Each of Kansas State’s running backs — Deuce Vaughn and DJ Giddens — had a rushing touchdown in the first half for Kansas State. Vaughn scored a touchdown on a 16-yard run on the first possession of the game. Giddens, meanwhile, broke free from near the 50-yard-line about midway through the first half for a touchdown run.
Kansas State’s defense had two takeaways, including one returned for a touchdown by safety Cincere Mason who saw more playing time on Saturday because of the season-ending injury that safety Kobe Savage sustained last week in the Wildcats’ win over Baylor. Cornerback Julius Brents had an interception in the second half, which was the second pick that West Virginia’s quarterback Garrett Greene threw on Saturday in his first start of the season over the previous starting quarterback JT Daniels who transferred to West Virginia before the start of the 2022 season from Georgia.
Wildcat tight end Ben Sinnott recorded his second consecutive game with a touchdown catch on Saturday. After hauling in two touchdowns last week vs. Baylor, Sinnott had three catches for 85 yards and one score.
With the win, Kansas State maintains sole possession of second place in the Big 12. With a win next week over Kansas — or a Baylor win over Texas on Black Friday — Kansas State would play for the Big 12 title vs. No. 4 TCU, who beat Kansas State 38-28 earlier this season.
HOWARD CONTINUES TO SLING IT
In his second start of the season, Will Howard continues to make claims to why he should be K-State’s starting quarterback if Adrian Martinez is able to return from an injury that had him in a walking boot on Saturday at West Virginia.
Howard completed 19-of-27 passes on Saturday for 294 yards and two touchdowns. Howard did throw a pick-6 on Saturday, just his second interception of the season. Howard’s one other interception this season came in the loss to TCU in Fort Worth.
After Saturday’s game, Howard now has 11 touchdown passes this season and just two interceptions while throwing for more than 1,000 yards in just four appearances this season.
DEFENSE RESPONDS IN SECOND HALF
Kansas State’s defense surrendered 25 points in the first half, but they allowed only one score in the second half.
Last week, Kanas State allowed just three points in the 31-3 win at Baylor, and they did so while recording just a single tackle for loss. The Wildcats had zero quarterback sacks last week or a single hurry. But against West Virginia, the K-State defense had more success in their pass rush.
Led by defensive end Brendan Mott’s three sacks, Kansas State had four total tackles for loss. Linebacker Khalid Duke was credited with the Wildcats’ lone quarterback hurry in the win.
But the Wildcat defense did hole Greene to just 17 rushing yards on Saturday. Entering the game, Greene had displayed impressive rushing ability with 212 yards on the ground this season.
Next week, K-State returns to Bill Snyder Family Stadium for the Sunflower Showdown against Lance Leipold’s Kansas Jayhawks. Kansas started the season 5-0 before losing games to TCU, Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas Tech, but the Jayhawks clinched their first bowl game since 2008 when they beat Oklahoma State 37-16. The Jayhawks were trailing Texas at halftime on Saturday in Lawerence.
Kansas leads the all-time series vs. K-State 65-49-2, but the Wildcats have won 13 straight in the series.