Game Recap: WVU Upsets No. 15 ISU - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Game Recap: WVU Upsets No. 15 ISU

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By Ryan Decker

MORGANTOWN – There were two trends going into Saturday’s game that did not bode well for West Virginia (6-3, 4-2).

No. 15 Iowa State (6-3, 4-2) has been much stronger on both sides of the ball in the second half, and WVU’s defense has been giving up double the scoring in the second half over the past three games than they did in games 1-5.

The trends prevailed. But Iowa State did not.

Iowa State, trailing by 17 points at the start of the second half, shut down the WVU offense but couldn’t get the stop it needed on third down late in the fourth quarter, as West Virginia survived 20-16 to complete the upset.

“Proud of our guys and the way they responded to me calling them out a little bit,” WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “We beat a good football team.”

A pair of third-quarter scores by the Cyclones pulled Iowa State back to within one score.

Iowa State was held to a field goal midway through the fourth, having to settle for three points at the end of a lengthy possession. That made the score 20-16.

WVU was putting a good drive together on the ensuing possession, but a chance at a score on third down proved costly, as D’Andre Payne ripped the ball from David Sills V’s hands in the end zone for an interception with 4:57 to go.

Iowa State couldn’t get much going on the next drive, with Tony Gibson turning up the pressure on first-year starter Kyle Kempt. Kempt’s passes on third and fourth down were broken up, giving WVU the ball on the Cyclones’ side of the field.

Amongst those stops was redshirt sophomore corner Hakeem Bailey, who led WVU with 10 tackles and three pass breakups.

“I thought (Bailey) was playing great (defense) all night,” Kyzir White said. “He just kept battling and he came up big for us.”

Unlike the Cyclones, West Virginia was able to convert on third down, as Kennedy McKoy ran 17 yards to seal the game for the Mountaineers.

“I was thinking run clock, and I thought that was the safest play,” offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said when asked about the play call. “It was good to see they executed that cleanly, and McKoy fought for those extra yards.”

West Virginia struck quick to open the game, needing less than two full minutes to find the end zone. Will Grier found a wide-open Ka’Raun White, who appeared to run 73 yards for the score. A replay showed he stepped out of bounds early, which set up a 10-yard pass to Sills on the next play for a touchdown.

The Mountaineer had similar fortune on its first drive of the second quarter.

Grier once again threw a deep pass to White, but this time White was in the middle of the field and easily scored to give WVU a 17-0 lead.

White finished the game with four catches for 167 yards.

Meanwhile, Iowa State’s offense sputtered.

The Mountaineer defense limited the Cyclones to just 29 yards of offense in the second quarter, and a total of 47 rushing yards in the first half.

Justin Crawford had almost double that total before halftime, showing that he’s healthy once again.

He finished with 102 yards on 25 carries. That’s the most yardage he’s picked up in almost a month.

“I think the last couple weeks I was rushing myself,” Crawford said. “This game I was just being a little bit patient and allowing things to work out itself, and then just hitting it.”

Iowa State’s lone first-half score came on a 42-yard field goal by Garrett Owens.

WVU took a 20-3 lead into halftime.

The Cyclones, a second-half team, showed up after the break.

Iowa State marched down the field on its first drive of the second half, consuming 86 yards on ten plays and taking over four minutes off the clock.

David Montgomery picked up 15 yards to get the offense near midfield, and Kyle Kempt did the rest, completing a 14-yard strike to Allen Lazard on third down and then finding his top target later in the drive for the score.

Iowa State added a field goal on its next drive to pull to within 20-13, but the Cyclones left points on the field, getting stuffed twice inside the two-yard line.

“That was huge for us, huge,” Gibson said. “The goal line stand was the one. That was the momentum swing back to us.”

Iowa State outgained West Virginia 238-153 in the second half. The Cyclones have now just allowed 27 second-half points over the last five games.

West Virginia, despite not scoring after halftime, earned its second win of the season over a ranked team. 

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