Wildcats use defense, special teams to move past West Virginia, 34-17


Kansas State wide receiver Malik Knowles, right, celebrates with running back Deuce Vaughn after scoring a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA football basketball game against Kansas Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Lawrence, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNW) — The Kansas State Wildcats blocked a punt, forced a fumble, and picked off West Virginia’s Jarret Doege twice enroute to a 34-17 win in Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Saturday.

The win was the first for the Wildcats against West Virginia since 2015, and it moves the Chris Klieman coached squad to 7-3 on the season.

“Couldn’t be happier with us beating a really good West Virginia team,” Klieman said. “West Virginia is doggone good, I’ve got so much respect for (West Virginia Head Coach) Neal Brown, he’s a great coach. They have physical players that are really athletic, and our guys just found a way.”

Wildcats running back Deuce Vaughn had another highlight-filled game, rushing for 121 yards on 25 attempts and tacking on a touchdown, his 12th of the season.

Skyler Thompson didn’t set the world on fire, but he managed the game well. He finished the game 14-of-19 for 138 yards and a touchdown. The win gives him his 23rd of his career at Kansas State.

The game started out with West Virginia quarterback Jarret Doege throwing an interception on a pass that bounced off Winston Wright Jr.’s hands and into the arms of Russ Yeast.

Not but three minutes later, The Wildcats found their way into the endzone on a two-yard run by Joe Ervin.

After the two teams traded punts, West Virginia was backed up on their own side of the field and was forced to punt. This time, though, the Wildcats special teams broke through and blocked the punt, which Marvin Martin picked up and ran in from seven yards out.

“We kind of doctored up this punt block all week that we thought we could get,” Klieman said. “And we had one chance at getting it. How about (wide receiver) Ty Bowman, a young freshman from Kansas makes a big-time play, and then Marvin Martin having the wherewithal not to dive on it, but to pick it up and score.”

The Wildcats would add a field goal before the half, as would the Mountaineers, and they would go to the locker room up 17-3.

Coming out of the break, the Wildcats would receive the second-half kickoff, and Evan Staley would return it 62 yards, setting up a four-yard pass from Skylar Thompson to Sammy Wheeler for a touchdown.

West Virginia would start to make a bit of a comeback, scoring on their next possession, with the game moving into the fourth quarter with a score of 24-10 Wildcats.

After a missed field goal from Wildcats kicker Chris Tennant and a touchdown pass for the Mountaineers, the score started to get close, 24-17.

17 is all West Virginia would score, however, as Kansas State would force turnovers on their final two possessions, as well as tack on a field goal and touchdown of their own, to take home the win, 34-17.

“The belief, the confidence, the expectation — those are kind of the three terms we’ve come up with the last three weeks,” Klieman said. “Have confidence that you know the plan and can execute the plan, have belief in yourself and each other, and then raise the expectation each week.”

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