Jayhawks remain winless after 38-17 loss to West Virginia

Oct 17, 2020; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers running back Alec Sinkfield (20) returns a punt during the first quarter against the Kansas Jayhawks at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports
Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Leddie Brown broke open a close game with a long touchdown run in the third quarter and caught one of Jarret Doege’s three touchdown passes to lead West Virginia to a 38-17 victory Saturday over a winless Kansas team that was without coach Les Miles.

Before a crowd of 10,759 in the first game that West Virginia allowed the general public to attend amid the pandemic, the Mountaineers (3-1, 2-1 Big 12) overcame a bevy of mistakes to beat the Jayhawks for the seventh straight time.

With West Virginia clinging to a 17-10 lead late in the third quarter, Brown came into the game needing to get a first down.

He got a whole lot more.

Brown rumbled 87 yards up the middle untouched, the start of three straight touchdowns for the Mountaineers.

“I’d seen a little crease. I jumped through it and I seen green — a whole bunch of green field,” Brown said. “I just hit it.”

The 210-pound junior compiled 195 yards on 18 carries, sitting out the fourth quarter. With 515 yards through four games, Brown has eclipsed his season rushing totals in each of the past two seasons.

Brown also had a 6-yard scoring reception in the second quarter from Doege, who also had TD passes of 33 yards to Bryce Ford-Wheaton and 8 yards to Sam James.

Doege completed 26 of 44 passes for 318 yards.

West Virginia coach Neal Brown called it the “best combined running and passing that we’ve played as far as in our league games. I thought it was a step forward. There’s things that we’ve got to continue to clean up.”

Miles tested positive for the coronavirus a week ago and was cleared to return to the Jayhawks on Thursday. But he chose not to travel with the team out of caution. Tight ends coach Joshua Eargle found out Thursday night he would fill in for Miles against the Mountaineers.

“This was one of the most humbling experiences of my entire life,” Eargle said. Miles “is gut-wrenched. He’s heartbroken. He can’t make the trip with his team. His team’s ready to go fly for victory for him. This staff is unbelievable, man. That’s an elite football staff in there, and they just didn’t have the right leader today. Proud of them, but it’s extremely humbling that Coach Miles would choose me to take those Hawks on the field today in his absence.”

Despite some bright moments early, the result was the same: The Jayhawks (0-4, 0-3) have now lost 51 straight true road games in the conference.

Kansas jumped out to a 10-0 lead, including Andrew Parchment’s 43-yard scoring catch from Miles Kendrick off a deflected pass, but the Jayhawks managed little offense the rest of the game.

“I really liked the way we came out,” Eargle said. “I thought we came out with fire. We hit some adversity, got behind the chains a little bit and stumbled some.”

Pooka Williams scored on a 92-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter for the Jayhawks.

THE TAKEAWAY

Kansas: The Jayhawks were limited to 157 yards of offense, including 95 through the air against the Big 12’s top defense. Kansas entered the game last among the 76 FBS teams that have played with 8.2 passing yards per completion.

West Virginia: The Mountaineers had been looking to get more explosive plays downfield either with long runs or passes, and they got both. Leddie Brown had eight runs of at least 10 yards, including his long TD. Doege averaged 12 yards per completion.

ATHLETIC PLAY

West Virginia’s Darius Stills, a 285-pound defensive lineman, made a diving interception on a second-quarter pass that was deflected from the secondary back toward him.

“He laid out like a wide receiver there,” said West Virginia linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo.

Neal Brown called it “a heck of a catch. The only reason that play happens is because he’s chasing the ball. Because he’s doing what we ask him to do and playing as hard as he possibly can and he’s chasing the ball, good things happen.”

UP NEXT

Kansas: Travels to No. 22 Kansas State next Saturday.

West Virginia: Plays at Texas Tech next Saturday.