Game Recap: WVU Survives in Lawrence - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Game Recap: WVU Survives in Lawrence

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By Ryan Decker

Heading into Saturday’s game between West Virginia (3-1) and Kansas (1-3) a lot of the talk surrounded the two quarterbacks, Will Grier and Peyton Bender.

However, it was the running games that were put on display for both sides.

One of the best rushing performances in Kansas football history kept the Jayhawks within striking distance, but WVU proved to be too much, holding on 56-34. 

Both the Jayhawks and Mountaineers stuck mainly to the ground in the opening quarter. 

Kansas used its running game to go on an impressive opening drive, though a false start penalty on 4th & goal forced a field goal attempt. 

Crawford picked up 63 rushing yards on just six carries, while Kansas’ Khalil Herbert was just under the century mark through the first 15 minutes of play. 

Herbert ended the first half with 191 rushing yards, on his way to a career-best 291 yards on the ground. 

As a team, Kansas outran its season average for rushing yards per game in just the first quarter but still found itself down 7-3 entering the second period.

Crawford capped off the next Mountaineer drive with a touchdown run for 11-yards out, this after multiple connections between Grier and David Sills through the air that helped West Virginia get into good scoring position. 

The Mountaineer leading rusher completed his fourth-straight game of rushing for at least one hundred yards rushing, finishing with 127. 

WVU continued to score on the ground, with Kennedy McKoy earning his second scoring run of the first half and giving WVU a 21-3 lead with just under nine minutes to play in the second quarter. 

McKoy joined Crawford as a hundred-yard rusher, gaining 105 yards on the ground. 

Grier and Sills added to the score on the Mountaineers fourth-consecutive scoring drive. The two hooked up to move the chains on second down. Two plays later, Grier found the wide receiver downfield, and Sills was able to break free of the secondary and go the rest of the way, a total of 49 yards for the score. 

West Virginia took a 35-13 lead into the locker room at halftime. 

Kansas gained momentum in the third quarter. 

Another long run by Herbert set up an easy score to pull the Jayhawks within two possessions on the scoreboard. On the ensuing WVU drive, Hasan Defense pulled down the jump-ball pass for an interception. 

Herbert’s performance in this game alone was better than the entirety of his 2016 season, in which he only ran for 189 yards, and nearly doubled his 2017 season output. 

Later in the quarter, Bender found his leading wide receiver Steven Sims Jr. deep downfield for a 64-yard gain down the sideline. That set up Kansas well inside the red zone. A scoring run by Taylor Martin finished off the drive and pulled Kansas even closer at 35-27. 

West Virginia’s offense was practically non-existent in the third quarter, only gaining 73 yards on four drives. 

Grier and company added points for the first time that half a few minutes into the fourth quarter. He connected with Sills in paydirt once again but was only given the opportunity to do so because of a costly encroachment penalty on what would’ve been a Mike Molina field goal attempt. 

Kansas responded with a quick score, taking just over three minutes to stay within one possession. 

West Virginia officially put the game out of reach on the ensuing drive. Covering 72 yards in just six plays, Grier completed a pair of long passes to wideouts and then scampered into the end zone to give WVU a 49-34 lead with five minutes to go. 

Grier, who was seen possibly dealing with some discomfort on his throwing hand throughout the game, completed 25 of 39 passes for 347 yards and four total touchdowns. 

Despite giving up 564 yards to Kansas, the WVU defense did come up with a couple of big plays.

Mike Daniels scored on an interception return at the end of the first half, and a forced fumble by Lamonte McDougle with five minutes to go in the fourth quarter put WVU in control for good. 

Herbert is the first 200-yard rusher against WVU since Samjae Perine in 2014, and with a run late in the game, set the record for most rushing yards by a single player against the Mountaineers. 

West Virginia is off next weekend, and returns to action October 7 against TCU in Fort Worth.

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