West Virginia's Historic Day on the Ground Results in a Blowout of the Jayhawks

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Wendell Smallwood, Rushel Shell and Skyler Howard combined to make some history Saturday in Kansas as they each went over the century mark in rushing yards. Here's some analysis and odds and ends from the contest.

  • West Virginia went three-and-out on its first possession of the game, during which impact running back Wendell Smallwood did not touch the ball. The Mountaineers avoided a disaster after offensive lineman Adam Pankey recovered Elijah Wellman’s fumble on the second play of the game. The Jayhawks would have been set up inside the Mountaineers’ 25 yard line, instead WVU was granted a reprieve and settled for a punt.
  • The Jayhawks gifted the ball right back to West Virginia, fumbling on their second play from scrimmage. The Mountaineers took advantage of the turnover with a five-play, 63-yard drive that culminated in an eight-yard touchdown run by Rushel Shell.
  • Kansas kept the early charity theme going, as quarterback Ryan Willis was intercepted by WVU’s Terrell Chestnut, who took the ball 32 yards down the sideline and into the end zone to put WVU up 14-0 in the blink of an eye.
  • After another short Kansas possession, WVU took firm control of the game with another long touchdown drive. Shell capped the drive with a 26-yard touchdown jaunt right up the center of the Jayhawk defense. The Mountaineer offensive line opened up a hole wide enough to drive a semi-truck through, and Shell went untouched into the end zone to give West Virginia a 21-0 lead.
  • West Virginia featured plenty of balance in its running game on the day. Elijah Wellman had more carries in the first quarter, three, than he had all season coming in to this game. The ground was good to WVU yet again on its fifth drive of the game. The Mountaineers marched 75 yards in eight plays, and Wendell Smallwood put the exclamation point on the drive with a 26-yard touchdown run to make it 28-0. It was the seventh rushing touchdown of the year for Smallwood.
  • With wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour swirling throughout this game, the elements were sure to play some sort of role, and they did when Skyler Howard tried to float a deep ball to David Sills down the middle late in the first quarter. The ball got caught in the wind, hung in the air and was intercepted by safety Michael Glatczack.
  • Senior H-back Cody Clay scored the third touchdown of his career when Skyler Howard found him wide open in the end zone for a two-yard score. It was Clay’s second catch of the year, and his second touchdown of the year.
  • Skyler Howard set a career-high mark in rushing yards in the first half, and punched in his fifth running touchdown of the year to make WVU’s lead even larger at 42-0 late in the second quarter.
  • Kicker Josh Lambert’s tough year continued this afternoon when he had a 41-yard kick blocked with 1:18 left in the first half. Lambert has been fighting a groin injury all season, and his kicks just haven’t had the same power and lift that made him a Lou Groza finalist in 2014.
  • When the first half ended, West Virginia had amassed 402 total yards of offense, while holding the Jayhawks to just one first down in the first 30 minutes.
  • The Mountaineers kept it rolling early in the second half when Wendell Smallwood went over 100 yards for the fourth-straight game, scored his second touchdown of the afternoon and widened the margin to 49-0.
  • Cornerback Rasul Douglas came away with his first interception as a Mountaineer to preserve WVU’s shutout early in the fourth quarter. It was the 18th interception WVU has come down with this year, which is the best total by any team in the Big 12.
  • West Virginia had three players go over 100 yards rushing today. It was the first time that feat has been accomplished at WVU since 1938.
  • The Mountaineers got their fourth turnover of the day and ended another fourth quarter scoring threat when Nana Kyeremeh intercepted Willis in the end zone. West Virginia has now forced nine turnovers in the last two games.
  • With the win over Kansas, West Virginia netted its sixth win, its third in a row, and secured bowl eligibility for the second consecutive season. The Mountaineers are in action next when they host Iowa State next Saturday on Senior Day at Milan Puskar Stadium. 

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