MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Things started so promisingly for West Virginia Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium that the Mountaineers entered the second half within reach of their first road victory of the season.
Then everything went wrong.
West Virginia let a first-half lead evaporate in the third quarter and once that was gone, it failed to put up a fight. Kansas State pulled away for a 35-12 victory that sent the Mountaineers (3-5, 1-4 Big 12) home wondering what might have been for the third game in a row. They haven't won since upsetting then-undefeated Oklahoma State Sept. 28.
"We are coming out and playing well and getting things going quickly," offensive lineman Nick Kindler said. "But we are just not making plays when we need to make plays later in the game. The same thing happened last week [against Texas Tech]; we felt like we were doing things well and we were playing together. We just did not get it done in the end."
The biggest problems came on defense, particularly in the secondary.
Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters, who hadn't served as the team's primary signal-caller this month, torched the Mountaineers for 198 yards and three touchdowns while completing 10 of 13 passes. But he wasn't the only Kansas State passer who had success.
Daniel Sams, a run-first quarterback, completed all eight of his attempts for 93 yards and a touchdown.
In all, Kansas State (3-4, 1-3) threw for 291 yards, with receivers Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton both totaling more than 100 receiving yards.
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen hopes his team can play better down the stretch, starting next week against TCU at Amon G. Carter Stadium. It was similar poor second-half play that also doomed the Mountaineers against Texas Tech last week.
"It is a huge concern," Holgorsen said. "It is a four-quarter game. We talk about it being a four-quarter game and we talk about how we have to finish everything that we do. It is a concern. It does not happen to good teams."
Kansas State has also had trouble finishing games, but that changed Saturday.
"When we are good, that's what we do," coach Bill Snyder said. "We haven't always been good."
As disappointing as the final score was, there were several bright spots for West Virginia.
Running back Charles Sims amassed 97 yards of total offense, Ronald Carswell caught a 50-yard pass, Kevin White broke free for a 43-yard reception and quarterback Clint Trickett scored on a 6-yard run.
When the Mountaineers had things working in the first half, they took a 9-7 lead and quickly extended that to 12-7 in the third quarter on a 50-yard Josh Lambert field goal.
Problem is, the lead could have been bigger.
West Virginia missed the extra point after Trickett's touchdown and couldn't convert a fake field goal in the second quarter in the red zone.
"We missed out on some opportunities to have a better lead," Holgorsen said. "I do think we should have gone into the locker room up, potentially, 21-7. It changes the outlook of the whole game."
A better third quarter would have helped, too. But it was over in the fourth.
West Virginia allowed Kansas State to gain 196 of its 448 yards and score 21 points in the final quarter.
Once again, late miscues were too much to overcome.
"It is always frustrating for us to be playing and working so hard," receiver Cody Clay said. "I guess we just need to improve and continue to work hard to improve. We just need to stay positive."