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In a bizarre start to the game, a traditional treat for K-State fans turned into a potentially ominous beginning. K-State has traditionally featured somebody dressed as the opponent’s mascot on the field dancing and mocking the crowd, at which point Willie the Mascot runs onto the field and delivers a massive tackle. However, that tackle was a little too hard today as the lamb for slaughter didn’t get up for a long time and was eventually taken via ambulance to the hospital (no word so far on his condition, although he appeared to be moving).
K-State, despite the distraction, had a great start to the game. Jack Cantele forced a touchback, and starting at it’s own 25, West Virginia’s first drive netted three yards and the team was forced to punt. Afraid to punt to K-State, West Virginia kicked out of bounds and the ball only went 27 yards, giving the Wildcats the ball at the 45. A 19-yard run by John Hubert had the offense up and running, and an offside penalty on West Virginia had the ball on 1st and five on the Mountaineer 21. Looked like a quick seven point lead for the Wildcats. And then, just like that, it wasn’t to be. Jake Waters took a draw up the middle on the next play and fumbled the football, leading me to question why Daniel Sams wasn’t starting while shaking my head.
Fortunately, K-State forced another punt and the team was once again too scared to even give Tramaine Thompson a chance at a return, kicking a high, high punt only 33 yards. Sams came out for the second drive which saw two great runs by Hubert, followed by a run by Sams that he was probably too quick to take off on, followed by a delay of game. Yet on his first pass of the game, he found Curry Sexton for 15 yards. That good play was negated when on third-and-four, Sams pitched the ball behind Hubert who had to spin to catch the ball, losing momentum and falling a yard short of first down.
On West Virginia’s third drive, K-State held West Virginia to another three-and-out, it’s second, and once again saw another short punt intended to neutralize the Wildcat return game. The ball went 37 yards, giving Sams the ball inside the 50 at the 47-yard line. To this point, he’s been calling a lot of audibles at the line. Most have been effective, identifying mismatches and resulting in good pick ups. Yet facing a third-and-15 – a position K-State has consistently brought Waters in for – Waters found Lockett on a nice post, beating both the cornerback and safety for a 35-yard touchdown.
West Virginia has had a couple nice plays for first downs, but more often than not the defense has been swarming and West Virginia has nowhere to go. The Mountaineers failed to pick it up on third-and-14, and West Virginia will punt to start the second quarter. K-State up 7-0.