MORGANTOWN, W.V. – West Virginia football team turned lights out Saturday afternoon, defeating NC State 44-27 in front of 57,052 fans at Milan Puskar Stadium. The Wolfpack struggled against that vaulted 3-3-5 defense that came into Saturday’s 1-1 after a blowout loss the previous week to Missouri.
Heading into the matchup against NC State, the Mountaineers had one of the worst rushing attacks in the nation. WVU is averaging 1.1 yards per carry — good for 129th out of 130 FBS programs in the country.
Somebody forgot to tell WVU’s offense that the first few drives of the game, in which Leddie Brown took the bulk of the carries.
NC State had multiple starters, including James Smith-Williams, Joseph Boletepeli and Nick McCloud, leaning heavily on the 3-3-5 having Ibrahim Kante, Xavier Lyas and Teshaun Smith on the field in their starting spot. WVU made them pay with multiple big rushes in the first half and finished with 65 yards on the ground and kept their defense off balance all game long.
“ I told them, ‘ I said they got embarrassed last week in Missouri. You’re going to get their best.” NC State coach Dave Doeren said.
WVU played like a team on a mission, with 445 total yards, after a combined total of 465 yards in the first two games of the season. Austin Kendall looked poised and took advantage of the good protection by his huge offensive line despite missing both of his starting guards, completed 27-40 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns.
Kendall found a nice grove and running back Kennedy McKoy (66 yards, two touchdowns) found some lanes to help out the nonexistent running game. The Mountaineers needed the offensive output to overcome 12 costly penalties for 105 yards.
McKoy’s 5-yard touchdown run, set up with a punt block by Logan Thimons at 6:51 remaining in third quarter gave the Mountaineers a 31-21 lead.
WVU had 7-0 and 14-7 before N.C. State took a brief 21-14 lead with 3:13 left in the first half on a trick play. Receiver Thayer Thomas hit a wide-open Cary Angeline play on a double-pass for an 18-yard touchdown and 21-14 lead.
Kendall marched his team down the field for a 92-yard drive, capped by a 13-yard TD dart to receiver George Campbell to tie the game up before the break.
A 23-yard field goal by Evan Staley and the blocked punt was all the Mountaineers needed to come away with the victory.
Quarterback Matt McKay struggled in his first away start. He completed 23 -48 passes for 207 yards with a touchdown. N.C. State’s offense, after scoring three touchdowns in the first half, was held in check in the second half by WVU’s defense.
“They turned it up in the second half and we didn’t really match it,” Thomas said.