LAWRENCE, Kan. – James Sims rushed for 211 yards and scored three touchdowns, and the Kansas defense stymied West Virginia’s offense for most of the game in registering a 31-19 victory Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kan.
The Kansas students among the 30,809 announced here today rushed the field to celebrate the school’s first Big 12 win in more than three years at the conclusion of today’s game. Then, the students converged on the goal post at the open end of the stadium and tore it down.
The victory was the first in 16 tries in conference play for coach Charlie Weis, now 4-18 at Kansas, and it also snaps West Virginia’s 11-year streak of going to a bowl game – tied for the eighth longest in the nation coming into this season.
"They had a chance to throw in the towel but they didn't and it was a physically controlling performance by our football team," said Weis, who was doused with Gatorade after the game by his players.
The Mountaineers (4-7, 2-6) couldn’t stop the KU ground attack, and they hit the pause button on offense for most of the afternoon after putting 40 points on the scoreboard the prior week against Texas.
Today, West Virginia scored on its opening drive when the Mountaineers marched 75 yards in six plays, and then it took another 12 possessions before they hit pay dirt again.
In between, KU’s Sims scored on touchdown runs of 3, 68 and 2 yards on the way to producing his best rushing performance as a Jayhawk.
Weis chose to go the entire game with the freshman Montrell Cozart under center, and he needed to throw only 12 passes for the game.
"He had a pretty nice day at the office," said Weis of his young quarterback. "His athleticism helped, especially on a day like today where the wind was going to be a significant factor. We planned on this for the last three days."
Backup quarterback Paul Millard
, starting in place of injured starter Clint Trickett
, threw a pair of interceptions that led to Kansas touchdowns – one at point-blank range to linebacker Ben Goodman that he returned 54 yards to the WVU 14, and another to middle linebacker Ben Heeney that he brought back 28 yards to the Mountaineer 1.
Millard did throw two touchdown passes of 12 yards to Charles Sims
and 3 yards to Kevin White
, and he led another late scoring drive that resulted in a Sims 6-yard TD run.
Kansas (3-8, 1-7) also got a 25-yard field goal from Ron Doherty on its opening possession of the contest.
West Virginia’s lone field goal attempt by Josh Lambert
was blocked by Keba Agostino to end the first half.
Millard finished the game completing 23-of-42 passes for 242 yards, and Sims had another fine game, rushing for 99 yards and also catching two passes for 29 yards. Mario Alford
was the game’s leading receiver with three catches for 76 yards.
West Virginia actually out-gained Kansas 386-376, but a good portion of those yards came after the contest was all but decided.
Kansas has two games remaining against Iowa State and Kansas State to wrap up the regular season.
WVU will have next week off before ending the year on Nov. 30 at Milan Puskar Stadium against 1-9 Iowa State.