MANHATTAN (AP) — Often it's hard to pinpoint one drive as the turning point in a college football game — especially one with a 23-point final margin. But Kansas State's 14-play, 78-yard drive into the wind that took 8:24 of the third quarter was just that. It gave Kansas State the lead for good in a 35-12 victory over West Virginia.
"When we're good that's what we do," Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. "We haven't always been good (this year). I was pleased with respect to what that means for our improvement.
"We had a good third quarter and a good fourth quarter. And we finished. We haven't finished every ballgame we've played."
Kansas State (3-4, 1-3 Big 12) appeared lethargic through the first half and the first two drives of the third quarter, falling behind West Virginia (3-5, 1-4) 12-7 with 10:40 left in the third. By the time Daniel Sams hit Tyler Lockett with a 9-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone there was only 2:16 left in the quarter.
It not only turned the game, it may have turned the season for Kansas State.
"It was critical," Sams said. "On the sideline, me and Jake told each other it was on us.
"This is what we needed. We see that we can do it. This may be a spark for our season."
Things finally clicked for Kansas State, beginning with that drive. The stats by the end of the game were impressive. The Wildcats outgained the Mountaineers 448 yards to 367. Jake Waters was 10-of-13 for 198 yards and three touchdowns for Kansas State. Sams was 8-for-8 for 93 yards and a touchdown. Lockett had eight catches for 111 yards and three scores. The Wildcats scored the final 28 points of the game.
"This can be a turning point," Lockett said. "It's been a long time since we got a win. As long as we remember what we did on Monday through Friday, we can do a lot of good things."
Snyder was pleased with the play of his receivers.
"Ours receivers — all of them — played very, very well," he said.
West Virginia had its chances, but could only convert four of 16 third-down plays. Coach Dana Holgorsen was upset that his team fizzled in the second half, especially on the 14-play drive by Kansas State.
"It's a huge concern," he said. "We talk about it being a four-quarter game and we talk about how we've got to finish. We've got to finish everything we do. It's a concern. That doesn't happen to good teams."
Kansas State had a chance for a big break early in the third quarter when Clint Trickett fumbled and it was recovered by Blake Slaughter at the West Virginia 18-yard line. But on the second play, Sams lost the ball after gaining a first down and it was recovered in the end zone by the Mountaineers' Karl Joseph.
On the next play Trickett hit Kevin White on a slant pass just over the line of scrimmage and White meandered 43 yards through the K-State defense. That resulted in a 50-yard field goal by Josh Lambert and the 12-7 lead for West Virginia (3-5, 1-4).
But Kansas State responded with the key drive.
"We've just got to execute," West Virginia defensive back Darwin Cook said. "There wasn't any miscommunication or blown coverage's; it's just execution."