After a shaky start against Kansas, West Virginia rode its steady junior running back to a Big 12 victory in front of more than 10,000 fans at Milan Puskar Stadium.
Behind a 231 yards of total offense from Leddie Brown — including a career-high 195 rushing yards — West Virginia rattled off 38 unanswered points to seize control of the game on the way to a 38-17 victory.
The win for the Mountaineers (3-1) is their second straight in league play, as well as their seventh in a row against the Jayhawks (0-4), to whom they’ve never lost at home.
“We did take care of business. Proud of our players and staff for responding to adversity. I’m not sure that a year ago we would have responded in the same way,” head coach Neal Brown said. “About anything that could have gone bad went bad in that first quarter there, especially the first couple series, and it shows some fortitude for us to bounce back.”
WVU logged -16 rushing yards and a turnover in the first quarter, falling into a 10-0 hole in the first 5:39 of the contest. But the Mountaineers got things rolling a few drives later, and as promised during the the open week, worked the deep ball back into the offense.
WVU cut into the Kansas lead with a 33-yard Jarret Doege pass to wide receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton. That touchdown pass made it 10-7 Kansas with 4:53 left in the first quarter.
Then, West Virginia pulled ahead in the second period when it capped 10-play, 91-yard drive with a six-yard pass from Doege to Brown, granting WVU a 14-10 advantage
WVU also added an Evan Staley field goal before the half, taking a 17-10 edge into the locker room.
Brown put the game out of reach in the third quarter when he ripped off an 87-yard touchdown run, extending the WVU lead to 24-10.
That scoring sprint marked the longest rush by a Mountaineer since an 88-yard Noelle Divine scamper vs. Pitt in 2009, as well as WVU’s longest play from scrimmage of more than 80 yards since an 83-yard Austin Kendall touchdown pass to George Campbell last season vs. Baylor. Brown’s rush is also the sixth-longest run in program history.
Brown’s 195 rushing yards came on 18 carries as he surpassed the century mark for the third time this season and fifth time in his career. That individual rushing total tops West Virginia’s game-high in rushing yards as a unit from the 2019 campaign, when it racked up 192 yards on the ground in a 29-24 win at Kansas.
Brown also added five catches for 36 yards.
“Big day for Leddie,” Neal Brown said. “Leddie has 195 yards, over 10.8 [yards] per carry. That’s special, and I think just overall offensively, we’re getting closer.”
Wide receiver Sam James and running back Alec Sinkfield also recorded scores for WVU in the fourth quarter. The Jayhawks got a late touchdown on a 92-yard kickoff return by Pooka Williams, capping the scoring at 38-17.
Doege completed 26 of his 44 attempts for 318 yards and three touchdowns, marking his first 300-yard passing game at West Virginia, and the first by a Mountaineer since Kendall threw for 367 yards last season against Texas.
On defense, linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo led West Virginia with nine total tackles. Defensive back Alonzo Addae earned his second interception of the season, but may have been outdone by an INT by defensive lineman Darius Stills, which will likely be remembered as one of the plays of the season:
The Jayhawks played without second-year head coach Les Miles, who did not travel for the game after he tested positive for COVID-19 last week. Joshua Eargle, Kansas’ tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, served as the team’s acting head coach.
The victory for Neal Brown is his eighth at the helm, bringing his all-time record as the leader of the Mountaineers to .500. He has begun both of his seasons in charge with 3-1 records through four contests.
WVU announced the official attendance for the game as 10,759 fans, slightly below the recommended 25 percent capacity cap. Saturday’s contest marked the season’s first home game with general public ticket sales.