When the Mountaineers arrived at Mountaineer Field, it was all business. At the end of the Mountaineer Man Trip, they gathered at midfield like they always do but it was a little different. There wasn’t dancing around or a bunch of hype. They huddled up then headed to the locker room.
There was a sense of focus and purpose amongst the players.
It showed in pre-game and carried over into the game.
West Virginia would get the ball to start the game and would score on the 4th play of the game. Offensive coordinator Jake Spavital was committed to the ground game, running the ball the first two plays of the game but the offense could only muster up 2 yards. Then on3rd and 8, Will Grier would find Ka’Raun White for a 63-yard bomb to the 10 yard line. Grier and David Sills would finish the drive off with a 10-yard touchdown pass.
The defense would get in on the act early, intercepting Iowa State quarter back Kyle Kempt on their 3rd play of the game. The offense would capitalize with an Evan Staley field goal from 28 yards out, putting the Mountaineers up 10-0 in the first five minutes of the game.
The DAWGS were playing inspired defense in the first half, holding Iowa State to just 112 total yards and 3 points.
The Mountaineer offense was clicking against arguably one of the best defenses in the Big XII. The success was started with the ground game which opened up the passing game. The success on the ground came from the offensive line. They were physical on the point of attack and was getting the push up front, making space for the running backs. Justin Crawford had 86 yards on 19 carries in the first half.
Will Grier was magnificent in the first half, going 12-13 for 233 yards and 2 TD. Over half of Grier’s yards went to Ka’Raun White, catching 3 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown.
West Virginia would take a 17-point lead into halftime 20-3.
The Mountaineers were playing extremely well on all three sides of the ball, but the question going into the second half was could they put a whole game together?
Iowa State would find the end zone on the first drive of the second half. The Cyclones drove 86 yards to cut into the West Virginia lead 20-10
The Iowa State defense also started to show their true colors in the second half. They clamped down on the West Virginia offense that was moving the ball with ease in the first half.
The Mountaineers’ offense would get shut out in the second half, but the offense would move the ball enough to flip filed position, giving their defense a chance to win the game.
In West Virginia’s first series in the second half, the Mountaineers drive would stall at the Iowa state 35-yard line after going for it on 4th and 2. In short yardage situations, the Mountaineers didn’t convert on 3rd and 4th down all day.
“We got to be better in 3rd and short and 4th and short situations,” said Will Grier.
On the ensuing drive for Iowa State, they would take the ball all the way down to the 2-yard line before the Mountaineer defense would make a stand at the 1-yard line, holding the Cyclones to a field goal.
That would cut the West Virginia lead to just 7 points and that all too familiar feeling was settling in around Mountaineer Field.
West Virginia has failed to win against some of the best teams in the country just coming up short and Iowa State had all the momentum.
“We’ve played four top 15 teams now and came close a couple of times, but it was good to finally win one,” said Dana after the game.
Iowa State would cut it to 4 with just 7:19 left in the game.
The Mountaineers’ offense would start the drive at their own 25-yard line and the offense started to gain some momentum. They would move the ball down to the Iowa State 33-yard line before cornerback D”Andre Payne would take the ball away from David Sills in the corner of the end zone for a touchback.
Iowa State had one last chance to take the ball down the field and win the game down 4.
The defense would step up in a big way. They only gave up 17 yards before holding them on a 4th and 7, turning the ball over on downs with 2:52 left to play in the game.
Iowa State still had 2 timeouts left, so West Virginia had to get a first down to end the game with the ball in their hands.
On a 3rd and 17, Spavital would call a draw for Kennedy McKoy and he ran the ball for 17 yards, getting the first down that sealed the win.
“We beat a good football team. Everything that we thought they were, they were. They were smart, they played hard, they didn’t make a lot of mistakes and fought to the end. Its good to get the win,” Holgorsen commented after the contest.
The Mountaineers travel to Kansas State next week