West Virginia was stung after its season-opening loss against Pitt. On the other end of that week was an early shot at Big 12 competition — the Kansas Jayhawks, a team over which they were favored by two touchdowns and that historically gave them little trouble.
Only this time, history went against the Mountaineers on a rainy Saturday. The Jayhawks broke the trend and earned their second-ever victory over the Mountaineers 55-42 in an overtime thriller and winning for the first time in Morgantown.
“Not a whole lot to say there,” said WVU coach Neal Brown. “On a day that really should have been a celebration for West Virginia fans everywhere with Huggs going in the Hall of Fame, I apologize to our fans. Not good enough.”
The WVU offense was unstoppable in the first half, scoring touchdowns on all of its first four drives. JT Daniels had a hot start, connecting on all but one of his 15 attempts. He found Sam James on the fourth play of the game for a 56-yard touchdown and twice found Bryce Ford-Wheaton for scores in the half as well.
CJ Donaldson also resumed his hype train after his debut, logging a score and 30 yards on the ground.
The defense halted the Kansas offense on its opening drive, but the momentum shifted from there. Kansas scored on its next four drives going into the third quarter, tying the ballgame up at the beginning of the second half.
WVU struggled to keep quarterback Jaylon Daniels contained, both in the pass and the run game. He led the offense with 304 total yards and threw for three touchdowns in the game.
He led the Jayhawks on two crucial drives in the third quarter to put KU up by double digits. Both of those series were punctuated by running backs, however — Devin Neal and Daniel Hishaw, each of whom scored two touchdowns in the game.
“That was not good enough. That was not the way we’ve played defense here for three years,” Brown said. “They did a good job schematically, but that was not good enough.”
WVU clawed back in the fourth quarter but was twice held to field goals. The Mountaineers were able to tie the game up with less than a minute remaining as Donaldson scored his second touchdown of the game to ultimately send it to overtime.
Kansas got the ball first in the overtime period and were nearly stuffed for a 4th-and-11 situation on the 26 yard line. The Jayhawks were handed a gift by WVU, though, as Taijh Alston hit Daniels and gave them an automatic first down. They capitalized, scoring two plays later.
WVU’s offense was not as fortunate. On third down, JT Daniels attempted to throw across the field to Ford-Wheaton, but Cobee Bryant jumped the route and intercepted the pass. He took it 86 yards to the end zone, sealing the win with the pick and extending the lead with the score.
That pick was the second of the season for Daniels. He completed the game with 355 yards, the third-most in his college career, and three touchdowns.
Tony Mathis led the Mountaineers with 59 rushing yards, while Donaldson added 48 and two scores. Ford-Wheaton had a career-high 154 receiving yards with two touchdowns. James added 91 yards and a score, while Kaden Prather chipped in 79 yards receiving.
West Virginia falls to 0-2 for the first time under Brown with the loss. Kansas, on the other hand, earns its first 2-0 start since 2007. That year, the Jayhawks finished No. 7 in the AP Top 10.
“I get the frustration, but I can tell you it’s not going to be from lack of effort,” Brown said.
WVU will look to recover on Sept. 17 when it hosts Towson.