The The West Virginia football team couldn’t have asked for a better start or finish against Iowa State on Saturday.’
However, what happened in the middle could have cost the Mountaineers a victory at home. West Virginia raced to a 20-0 lead against the Cyclones, but had to hold on for dear life beyond that. In the end, the defense held strong as the Mountaineers pulled off a 20-16 victory at Milan Puskar Stadium.
The victory was West Virginia’s first over a ranked team since beating Baylor at home in 2014, according to WVUsports.com. There were a lot of positives to take from this victory and the good points start from the first drive of the game.
To start off with a 7-0 lead, WVU quarterback Will Grier hit David Sills for a 10-yard touchdown. Grier, who was off the mark in the previous game against Oklahoma State, found his rhythm again and looked like the potential professional he could really be. Grier finished with 316 yards on 20 completions. He had two touchdown passes, the other going to Ka’Raun White early in the second quarter from 55 yards out to give the Mountaineers a 17-0 lead at the time.
The other two scores from West Virginia came via field goal as Evan Staley connected on tries from 28 and 36 yards out. Iowa State scored the final 16 points of the game. The Cyclones first got on the board with a field goal right before halftime. Still, trailing by 17 points with two quarters to play, it looked out of reach for the visiting team.
However, Kyle Kempt hit Allen Lazard, two players on the Hail WV ISU players to watch list, to pull within 10 points early in the third quarter. Two shot field goals later closed out the scoring for Iowa State
White led all receivers with four catches for 167 yards. Running back Justin Crawford also found his footing after struggling the past three games. He finished with 102 yards on 25 carries. Kennedy McKoy added 60 yards on 12 carries.
On defense, Hakeem Bailey led the way with 10 tackles and three pass breakups. Dylan Tonkery and Al-Rasheed Benton each had nine tackles. Benton continued his strong play with an interception early in the first quarter.
With the win, West Virginia became bowl eligible with six wins on the year. The Mountaineers are 6-3 and play again next week at Kansas State.