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November 16, 2013

WVU falls to Kansas, bowl streak over




West Virginia's 11-season consecutive bowl streak ended with a disappointing thud Saturday when the Mountaineers fell to Kansas 31 to 19 in Lawrence.

Mistakes and missed opportunities once again haunted the Mountaineers who allowed Kansas to snap a 27-game Big 12 Conference losing streak and record their first conference victory since beating Colorado in 2010. It was the first time that the Jayhawks reached 20-points in a conference game all season.

The Mountaineers entered the game needing to win its final two in order to head to a bowl game, but was unable to move the ball consistently on offense and a the Jayhawks were able to spring a couple big plays offensively and play smothering defense to cap off the upset.

Starter Paul Millard completed 23 of 42 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions, while Charles Sims rushed for 99-yards and a touchdown, while catching another. Kansas was led by James Sims, who rushed for 211 yards and three touchdowns.

Gusting winds greeted West Virginia on its first drive as the Mountaineers opened play with a 26-yard run by Charles Sims then after a short run, connected on a 30-yard tunnel screen to Mario Alford put the ball deep in Kansas territory.

West Virginia wouldn't take long to capitalize, as starter Paul Millard would connect with Sims on another wide receiver tunnel screen and he would go untouched into the end zone to give the Mountaineers an early 7-0 lead capping off a very successful opening drive.

True freshman quarterback Montell Cozart earned his first start Kansas and was able to lead the Jayhawks deep into West Virginia territory relying on the ground game with Sims and some option, but the Mountaineers defense held in the red zone forcing a field goal to put KU on the board.

West Virginia would begin their second possession on the 25-yard line and much like the first drive, relied on short controlled passes to get the wide receivers in space but after a pair of first downs was unable to covert on a third and short, booting the ball back to the Jayhawks.

The Mountaineers were able to hold the Jayhawks to a three and out, but on the ensuing punt a muff by Jordan Thompson on the return placed the ball inside their own five. And while the Mountaineers were able to move the ball to midfield, another tunnel screen to Kevin White came up short on third down which forced West Virginia to punt the ball back to the Jayhawks.

Kansas was able to generate a first down on the ensuing drive, but the West Virginia defense would stand up again looking much more prepared against the option and getting the ball back to the offense.

Alford would strike again for a 46-yard catch and run on 2nd and 15 putting the Mountaineers into Kansas territory but bad plays on an offensive pass interference penalty and then Millard tacking a sack forced a 4th and 29 and a punt.

Cozart would take over at the Kansas ten yard line and quickly move the ball inside the West Virginia fifteen yard line, aided by a 62-yard run by Sims. And he would cap the drive off with a short touchdown run to give Kansas a 10-7 lead with 6:12 left in the quarter.

On the ensuing kickoff, Wendell Smallwood would return the ball 60-yards, but the play would be called back on a holding forcing the Mountaineers to start the drive once again deep in their own territory. But after a three and out, including another Millard sack, West Virginia had to punt the ball away and the Jayhawks took over at midfield. But the defense was able to return the favor, forcing another three and giving the Mountaineers the ball back at their own 18-yard line.

However, like much of the first half it was quick work for the unit, who punted the ball back to the Jayhawks and in one play Kansas's Sims took a 68-yard run to the house to put the Mountaineers down 17-7 with under 30-seconds left in the half.

West Virginia would quickly move the ball down into field goal range, but Josh Lambert's attempt would be blocked sending the Mountaineers to the locker room trailing 17-7.

The Mountaineers forced the Jayhawks into a three and out in their opening possession and after a 10-yard punt, West Virginia took over at the Kansas 43-yard line to open the half.

But West Virginia's costly mistakes would spring up again as Millard would throw an interception into the belly of the Jayhawks defensive end who would rumble for 53-yards setting them up in West Virginia territory.

From there the Jayhawks would punch the ball into the end zone with James Sims and the Mountaineers would fall behind 24-7 with 10:11 left in the third quarter.

West Virginia wouldn't seriously threaten again for the remainder of the contest although they would add some late scores, but Kansas would salt the game away including a late touchdown that will leave the Mountaineers home for the holidays.

West Virginia will conclude its season Nov. 29 at Milan Puskar Stadium against Iowa State.


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