MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Jake Waters threw for a career-high 400 yards and a touchdown, Tyler Lockett returned a punt for a score and No. 12 Kansas State held on to beat sloppy West Virginia 26-20 on Thursday night.
Kansas State (8-2, 6-1 Big 12, No. 12 CFP) rebounded from a blowout loss at TCU to move into a first-place tie with the idle Horned Frogs with two weeks left in the regular season. No. 6 Baylor can make it a three-way tie Saturday when it hosts Oklahoma State.
Waters was 22-of-34 passing. Lockett caught 10 passes for 196 yards, and Matthew McCrane kicked four field goals.
The Mountaineers (6-5, 4-4) have lost three straight after winning four in a row. West Virginia committed four turnovers, with two of them occurring inside the Kansas State 30, and Josh Lambert missed a 40-yard field goal try.
West Virginia’s Skyler Howard threw two touchdown passes after Clint Trickett left with what coach Dana Holgorsen said was a concussion. Trickett didn’t return after throwing his second interception in the third quarter. Trickett has now gone 10 consecutive quarters without a TD pass.
Lockett returned a punt 43 yards just before halftime to put the Wildcats ahead 17-3. West Virginia punter Nick O’Toole was supposed to kick the ball to the right, but Lockett fielded the ball on the other side of the field and scored untouched.
Lockett had fumbled away a kickoff earlier in the game.
Howard rallied the Mountaineers on his first series, running 16 yards to set up his 7-yard TD toss to Kevin White that trimmed the Wildcats’ lead to 23-10 midway through the third quarter.
Howard engineered a 17-play drive on the next series, but West Virginia turned it over on downs at the Kansas State 26.
After McCrane missed a 22-yard field goal, Howard hit Mario Alford with a short pass, and he went 53 yards untouched to make it 23-17 with 7:23 left in the fourth quarter.
But Michael Molinari’s ensuing kickoff went out of bounds. Waters hit Lockett across the middle for 28 yards to the West Virginia 25 and McCrane’s fourth field goal made it a two-possession game.
Lambert made a 25-yard field goal with 53 seconds left. West Virginia then tried an onside kick that Kansas State’s Glenn Gronkowski recovered.
Waters was Kansas State’s only hope on offense. The Wildcats ran 29 times for 1 yard. Kansas State used a big pass play to set up its first two scores.
Kody Cook’s 32-yard grab on Kansas State’s first drive set up Waters’ 7-yard scoring toss to DeMarcus Robinson, and tight end Zach Trujillo’s 49-yard catch led to a 36-yard field goal early in the second quarter. It was Trujillo’s longest reception of the season.
Before Lambert’s miss, White appeared to score on a 22-yard reception that deflected off two other players, but the play was ruled an incompletion because the ball touched the ground as Kansas State’s Dante Barnett tried to come up with it.
The Wildcats also came up empty after Randall Evans’ interception when West Virginia’s Kyle Rose blocked McCrary’s 34-yard field goal try as the first half expired.
Big 12 Conference
At Morgantown, W. Va.
No. 12 KANSAS STATE 26,
WEST VIRGINIA 20
Kansas St. 7 10 6 3 — 26
West Virginia 0 3 7 10 — 20
KSt—Robinson 7 pass from Waters (McCrane kick), 8:57.
KSt—FG McCrane 36, 12:53.
WVU—FG Lambert 47, 8:10.
KSt—Lockett 43 punt return (McCrane kick), 1:12.
KSt—FG McCrane 44, 9:29.
WVU—White 7 pass from S.Howard (Lambert kick), 6:24.
KSt—FG McCrane 19, 2:13.
WVU—Alford 53 pass from S.Howard (Lambert kick), 7:23.
KSt—FG McCrane 32, 2:52.
WVU—FG Lambert 25, :53.
First downs 18 27
Rushes-yards 29-1 37-123
Passing 400 310
Comp-Att-Int 22-34-1 27-48-2
Return Yards 87 5
Punts-Avg. 4-41.8 3-39.7
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 3-2
Penalties-Yds 10-102 8-77
T.O.P. 31:33 28:27
RUSHING—Kansas St., Waters 12-13, C.Jones 7-4, Robinson 6-(minus 7), Team 4-(minus 9). West Virginia, Shell 15-60, D.Smith 11-35, Smallwood 5-27, S.Howard 3-16, Trickett 3-(minus 15).
PASSING—Kansas St., Waters 22-34-1-400. West Virginia,Trickett 12-25-2-112, S.Howard 15-23-0-198.
RECEIVING—Kansas St., Lockett 10-196, Cu.Sexton 5-76, Trujillo 2-67, Cook 2-42, Burton 1-7, Robinson 1-7, A.Davis 1-5. West Virginia, White 7-63, Alford 4-92, Shorts 4-72, Smallwood 3-21, Thompson 2-20, D.Smith 2-13, Shell 2-12, K.Myers 2-8, Clay 1-9.