The University of Kansas football team was unable to do enough to pull off the upset over No. 9 West Virginia.
WVU led the entire contest during a 38-22 home win over KU Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium. The Jayhawks (2-4, 0-3 Big 12) created four takeaways on the defensive end, while holding the Mountaineers (5-0, 3-0) under its scoring average of 43.2 points per game. Kansas has dropped the previous five meetings with West Virginia
Senior quarterback Will Grier, who is considered a Heisman candidate, struggled against the Jayhawks’ defense. Grier completed 28 of 41 passes for 332 yards and four scores, but he also tossed three interceptions.
Kansas used two different quarterbacks in a losing effort.
Carter Stanley, who got the start for the second straight week, was 5 of 8 on the day. Senior quarterback Peyton Bender went 16-for-25 through the air for 191 yards and two scores. Both Stanley and Bender threw an interception, which was something the Jayhawks had avoided through the first five weeks.
The game turned when: Kansas failed to convert on fourth down on the first offensive drive.
Kansas forced West Virginia to punt on the opening drive after three plays, and had an opportunity to strike first. Head coach David Beaty elected to go for it on fourth and short near midfield, demonstrating aggressiveness as a 28-point underdog.
Stanley attempted to keep the ball on a read option with freshman running back Pooka Williams, once the defensive end crashed hard. However, Stanley fumbled on the exchange and ended up losing yards on the play. Stanley made the correct read, and appeared poised to pick up enough for the first down.
The Mountaineers took a 7-0 advantage on the ensuing drive, and the Jayhawks trailed for the rest of the afternoon.
Offensive highlight: Senior quarterback Peyton Bender scores on his first drive.
Bender replaced Stanley on the fourth drive of the first half, and marched the Jayhawks down the field on a six-play scoring drive. Bender connected with tight end Marvin Saunders on a 18-yard post for the team’s lone score of the first half. For Saunders, it was the first touchdown of his career.
But the play before the score was actually the best moment of the drive. On third down, Bender delivered a strike to Kerr Johnson Jr., who made the over-the-shoulder grab before going out of bounds.
Defensive highlight: Junior Hasan Defense notched a pair of interceptions in the defeat.
Entering Saturday, West Virginia boasted the best red zone offense by scoring every trip through four games. Defense, though, claimed two different interceptions in the red zone to halt a pair of scoring threats by the Mountaineers.
Kansas threw its own interception following Defense’s second takeaway, which he actually nearly took all the way back for a touchdown.
Davon Ferguson claimed an interception in the final minute of the first half, shutting down another West Virginia drive that ended in the red zone.
Key stat: Kansas struggled to take advantage of turnovers, scoring a total of seven points on four turnovers.
The Jayhawks registered four takeaways against the Mountaineers, including three in the red zone. Entering Saturday, Kansas had the best turnover margin in the nation and had shown the ability to create turnovers on a weekly basis. The offense, however, only scored one touchdown off these decisive takeaways.
Up next: After a bye week, Kansas travels to Texas Tech on Saturday, Oct. 20.
9:28 — Leddie Brown 15 pass from Will Grier. Evan Staley kick. Four-play drive for 35 yards, in 2:03. (WVU 7, KU 0.)
5:21 — Brown 1 run. Staley kick. Seven-play drive for 80 yards, in 2:12. (WVU 14, KU 0.)
0:12 — Mavin Saunders 18 pass from Peyton Bender. Gabriel Rui kick. Six-play drive for 72 yards, in 2:11. (WVU 14, KU 7.)
11:52 — Jovani Haskins 14 pass from Grier. Staley kick. Seven-play drive for 75 yards, in 3:20. (WVU 21, KU 7.)
10:50 — Khalil Herbert 31 run. Rui kick. Seven-play drive for 75 yards, in 4:10. (WVU 21, KU 14.)
0:00 — Martell Pettaway 12 pass from Grier. Staley kick. Eleven-play drive for 77 yards, in 4:21. (WVU 28, KU 14.)
5:05 — Staley 49 field goal. Eight-play drive for 30 yards, in 3:35. (WVU 31, KU 14.)
2:20 — David Sills V 17 pass from Grier. Two-play drive for 30 yards, in 0:41. (WVU 38, KU 14)
0:00 — Daylon Charlot 18 pass from Bender. PAT pass from Bender to Kwamie Lassiter good. Nine-play drive for 75 yards, in 2:20. (WVU 38, KU 22)