MANHATTAN, Kan. – You learn it the first time you ever watch a college football game. There are four 15-minute quarters in each game.
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen isn’t quite sure his players realize this.
After taking a 12-7 lead early in the second half at Kansas State, Holgorsen’s Mountaineers gave up 28 straight points and fell 35-12.
“It’s a huge concern,” Holgorsen said. “We talk about it being a four-quarter game and we talk about how we’ve got to finish. We’ve got to finish everything we do. It’s a concern. That doesn’t happen to good teams.”
West Virginia (1-4 Big 12, 3-5) held a 221-142 edge in total yards and held the Wildcats to 1-of-5 on third down in the first half. The Mountaineers also held a slight edge (15:55 to 14:05) in time of possession.
But the second half was a different story. The Wildcats (1-3, 3-4) outgained their guests 306-147 after intermission, holding the ball for 21:27. And K-State converted 7-of-8 on third down.
“You’ve got to give credit to Kansas State, especially in the second half coming out and taking it to us,” Holgorsen said. “I thought we were ready to play and I thought our plan on all three sides of the ball was good.
“I thought we missed out on some opportunities to have a better lead. I think we should have gone into the locker room potentially (ahead) 21-7. That changes the whole outlook of the whole game. We missed some opportunities in the first half. With that said, still going into halftime with the lead, we came out and got out-coached and out-played on all three sides of the ball.”
The game-changer was a 14-play, 78-yard drive into the wind that took 8:24 of the third quarter for Kansas State. It culminated in a 9-yard touchdown from Daniel Sams to Tyler Lockett that gave K-State a 14-12 lead.
“When we’re good that’s what we do,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. “We haven’t always been good (this year). I was pleased with respect to what that means for our improvement.”
West Virginia had its chances, but could only convert four of 16 third-down chances.
Kansas State had a chance for a big break early in the third quarter when Mountaineers quarterback Clint Trickett fumbled and it was recovered by Blake Slaughter at the West Virginia 18-yard line. But on the second play, Sams lost the ball after gaining a first down and it was recovered in the end zone by the Mountaineers’ Karl Joseph.
On the next play Trickett hit Kevin White on a slant pass just over the line of scrimmage and White meandered 43 yards through the K-State defense. But even that big play only yielded three points on a 50-yard field goal by Josh Lambert for the 12-7 lead for West Virginia.
“We struggled in the red zone,” Trickett said. “We should have had more points than we did. It wasn’t necessarily play-calling, it was more execution.”
Following the field goal, Kansas State responded with the key drive. “We’ve just got to execute,” defensive back Darwin Cook said. “There wasn’t any miscommunication or blown coverages. It’s just execution.”
Another 78-yard drive, this one taking seven plays and 3:40, gave Kansas State a 21-12 lead with 11:11 left in the fourth quarter. Waters hit Tramaine Thompson on a 30-yard touchdown pass.