K-State Uses Big Second Half to Upend WVU, 35-12

MANHATTAN, Kan. - The second half of the 2013 season could have not gotten off to a better start for K-State (3-4, 1-3) as the Wildcats defeated West Virginia (3-5, 1-4), 35-12, for the team's first Big 12 win of the season in front of 52,898 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Homecoming Saturday.

Snapping a three-game losing streak in the process as well, K-State's offense was fueled, once again, by the two-headed quarterbacking duo of Jake Waters and Daniel Sams. The two signal-callers combined for 362 total yards and four combined touchdowns including 273 yards and three touchdowns in the Wildcats' 28-point second half alone.

The 23-point victory for K-State came despite trailing 9-7 at the half and 12-7 as late as 12:44 into the third quarter. Accumulating only 169 yards prior to a 50-yard field goal by Mountaineer kicker Josh Lambert to make the score 12-7, K-State's offense answered emphatically scoring 28 unanswered points. The scoring drives took a total of 18:58 off the clock with the Wildcats racking up 274 total yards of offense in the process.

Sams kick started the offensive explosion in the initial drive following the Lambert field goal. Leading the Wildcats 78 yards down the field, Sams converted on three third downs including hitting Tyler Lockett in the back of the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-goal. Even with the Mountaineers containing him on the ground (14 carries for 16 yards), the sophomore took to the air, finishing the game a perfect 8-of-8 in the pocket for 93 yards and one touchdown.

If Sams was the kick starter, Waters was certainly the closer. The community college transfer put the game away with touchdown passes of 30 yards and 24 yards in the ensuing two drives for the Wildcats. Finding success through both the air and on the ground, Waters finished the game 10-of-13 for 198 yards and three touchdowns through the air, while adding 55 rushing yards on 10 carries.

The game was shaping up to be a defensive battle with neither team giving up much on the ground or through the air. Both teams combined for only 363 yards in the first half with the Mountaineers averaging 5.6 yards per play and the Wildcats averaging 5.68 yards.

The K-State defense continued the trend in the second half of the game, allowing only the Lambert field goal and easily putting in its best effort against Big 12 competition this season. The Wildcats were stifling as West Virginia only converted four of its 16 third down chances and accumulated 110 yards total on its final four drives.

Senior Ty Zimmerman led all Wildcats with 12 tackles, while defensive end Ryan Mueller picked up a strip-sack for the second straight game. In all, the K-State defense forced three turnovers with two fumble recoveries and a game-ending fourth quarter interception by Dorrian Roberts.

The defensive effort allowed for several Wildcats to shine on offense, which totaled 448 yards for the game. John Hubert continued his strong play of late with 86 yards on 19 carries, adding a late fourth quarter 4-yard score to make it 35-12. Lockett, who played a major role on the game-changing third quarter drive, had 8 receptions for 111 yards and three touchdowns. Along with his 9-yard receiving score, Lockett had a 35-yard touchdown in the first quarter and 24-yard score in the fourth quarter both from Waters. The effort marked the fourth 100-plus yard receiving game for the Biletnikoff Award candidate this year.

Rounding a strong effort from the Wildcats receiving corps were Curry Sexton and Tramaine Thompson. Sexton tied a career-high in receptions with six and set career-high in receiving yards, 112, while Thompson hauled in three passes for 53 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown reception from Waters that made the score 21-12 Wildcats in the fourth quarter.

K-State will look to keep momentum in conference play with a home date against Iowa State (1-6, 0-4) next Saturday at 2:30 p.m. If recent history suggests anything, the game will be close as despite a five-game head-to-head winning streak for the Wildcats, no game has finished with the margin of victory higher than eight points in those past five match ups.