Forcing four turnovers and holding West Virginia scoreless in the second half seems like a pretty good recipe for success.
But scoring points, it turns out, is also important to winning football games. Kansas State did not do enough of the latter in a 28-23 loss to the No. 23 Mountaineers Saturday afternoon.
“The defense kept getting the ball back, but the offense couldn’t get it in the end zone,” Bill Snyder said. “We had great field position all day. It just didn’t happen.”
The K-State defense held WVU scoreless to five punts and zero points in the second half. But the Mountaineers did just enough damage in the second quarter, when they scored 21, to render the effort fruitless.
West Virginia’s first four drives consisted of two turnovers and two punts. Three of those drives resulted in the Wildcats taking over on the Mountaineers’ side of midfield. But all that came of them were two Matt McCrane field goals.
“Across the board, we had some issues (with the offense),” Snyder said.
D.J. Reed was responsible for both takeaways in the first quarter, a strip of David Sills followed by an interception he returned to the WVU 2-yard-line.
K-State (5-5) could not take advantage, scoring just three points on four WVU turnovers in the first half. In his first career start, Skylar Thompson struggled at times with pass accuracy and pocket awareness. He finished 13 of 26 for 159 yards and two interceptions.
It didn’t help that Thompson was K-State’s only healthy scholarship quarterback, so the Wildcats’ patented quarterback run game was almost nonexistent to avoid the chance of injury.
“He did some good things over the course of the ballgame, but struggled from time to time,” Snyder said. “But it wasn’t Skylar. There were a lot of reasons we didn’t win that ballgame.”
No sequence summed up the first half, or the game, as well as the final minute. After K-State scored to get within 21-20, West Virginia fumbled in K-State territory. Thompson was immediately intercepted by a Mountaineer defensive lineman with ten seconds left.
Grier found a wide open Ka’Raun White for a 30-yard touchdown as time expired, giving WVU a 28-20 lead and dealing a massive blow to K-State’s momentum.
“I guess we could have run the clock out, and in hindsight that’s what we should have done,” Snyder said.
K-State had chances to take the lead in the fourth quarter. The best of which ended deep in WVU territory when Thompson was picked off with 7:50 to go.
The loss was K-State’s fourth by a touchdown or less this season.