Football, WVU Sports

West Virginia downs Kansas to become bowl-eligible

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Jarret Doege threw for 170 yards and three touchdowns, Leddie Brown ran for 156 yards and another score, and West Virginia held on to beat Kansas 34-28 on Saturday night and make the Mountaineers bowl-eligible.

Winston Wright Jr. had two TD catches and Tony Mathis Jr. added 118 yards rushing for the Mountaineers (6-6, 4-5 Big 12), who also got two picks in the end zone from Josh Chandler-Semedo in beating the Jayhawks for the eighth straight time.

Jalon Daniels gave Kansas (2-10, 1-8) a chance with his touchdown run with 1:46 left, but the Jayhawks had no timeouts left and were forced to try an onside kick. The Mountaineers recovered it and ran out the clock.

Gavin Potter had a pick-6 for the Jayhawks that made it 21-all in the second half. But the Jayhawks made too mistakes on the other side of the ball, getting stopped three times on fourth down and finishing 3 of 6 in the red zone.

On a day of high stakes and major rivalries across college football — Ohio State against Michigan, Auburn against Alabama — the Mountaineers and Jayhawks played before about 10,000 mostly morose fans in Memorial Stadium.

After the Jayhawks opened with a field goal, the Mountaineers fumbled on their first offensive play, only for Kansas to give the ball right back when Daniels was sacked on fourth-and-goal at the West Virginia 4.

The Mountaineers proceeded 84 yards and 75 yards on consecutive possessions to take a 14-6 lead. And when Kansas answered with a touchdown toss to walk-on tight end Jared Casey, the cult hero for his 2-point conversion catch to beat Texas, West Virginia skipped 59 yards in a mere 1:23 for a touchdown and 21-13 halftime lead.

Early in the second half, Potter returned his interception 28 yards for a score. And the Jayhawks made the tying 2-point try when Daniels threw a backward pass to 290-pound left tackle Earl Bostick Jr. and he rumbled into the end zone.

The Mountaineers finally took control late in the third quarter, though. Brown coasted 44 yards for a go-ahead score, then they stuffed the Jayhawks on fourth down and added a pair of field goals for a 34-21 lead.

Missing Mr. Neal

Jayhawks running back Devin Neal did not suit up for the finale of his standout freshman season after hurting his shoulder against TCU last week. Neal finished with 707 yards and eight touchdowns rushing in 11 games.

The takeaway

West Virginia played poorly enough that coach Neal Brown is probably glad for a bowl game, both for the extra practice and so that the season didn’t end on such a clunker. Still, the Mountaineers won four of their last six and that’s a positive.

Kansas made big strides in its first season under Lance Leipold, beating the Longhorns and taking TCU and West Virginia to the wire late in the season. The Jayhawks need more talent but they just might have finally found the right coach.

Up next

The Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix and Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee, appear to be the most likely destinations for the Mountaineers.