Three takeaways from Kansas State football's 34-17 victory over West Virginia

Arne Green
Topeka Capital-Journal
West Virginia wide receiver Winston Wright Jr. (1) is tackled by Kansas State Wildcats defensive back Russ Yeast on Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium.

MANHATTAN — Kansas State survived some anxious moments in the fourth quarter, but finished strong, scoring the game's last 10 points Saturday to claim a 34-17 victory over West Virginia at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

After West Virginia cut the Wildcat lead to 24-17 on a fourth-down completion from Jarret Doege to Winston Wright with 11:50 left, K-State answered with a 63-yard scoring drive, then forced a turnover and added a 25-yard Chris Tennant field goal with 1:59 to go.

Here are three takeaways for the Wildcats, who improved to 7-3 with a 4-3 league record:

Skylar Thompson with nerves of steel

West Virginia had all the momentum, when K-State's coaches put their faith in quarterback Skylar Thompson's hands.

The Mountaineers had just scored on fourth down to cut the K-State lead to 24-17 with 11:50 left, and the Wildcats faced a fourth down of their own at the West Virginia 39-yard line.

Instead of playing it safe and punting, the Wildcats went for it and Thompson delivered a 35-yard strike downfield to Sammy Wheeler at the 4 to keep the drive alive. On the next play, Deuce Vaughn scored, pushing the lead back to 14.

On the next series, the Wildcats forced a fumble to basically ice the game.

K-State special teams come up big

While K-State's offense sputtered at times, the Wildcats were rescued early by their special teams.

A blocked punt by Ty Bowman was scooped up by Marvin Martin at the West Virginia 7 and run in to put the Wildcats up 14-0 late in the first quarter.

K-State got the ball to start the second half, leading 17-3, and Malik Knowles returned the kickoff 64 yards to the West Virginia 33. From there, the Wildcats scored in eight plays with Thompson hitting Wheeler with a 3-yard pass on third down.

Wildcats opportunistic in first half

Kansas State was nothing if not opportunistic in the first half, scoring its 17 points with the help of an interception, blocked punt and a short field.

The first score came after a Doege pass went off the hands of an open Wright into the arms of Russ Yeast after West Virginia won the toss and elected to receive. K-State took over at its 45-yard line and drove 55 yards in six plays with Joe Ervin walking into the end zone from the 2.

With 3:46 left in the quarter West Virginia lined up to punt from its own 11 and Bowman broke through to block the kick. Martin was there to scoop and score.

The Wildcats' field goal to close the half came after a short West Virginia punt from its end zone and Phillip Brooks' 8-yard return to the Mountaineer 32. Tennant's 32-yard field goal made it 17-0 before West Virginia kicked a field goal that cut it to 17-3 at halftime.