Lawrence, Kan. (WVU Athletics) -- Backup running back Martell Pettaway scored two second-half touchdowns to power West Virginia to a 29-24 victory at Kansas in the Big 12 opener for both teams.
Pettaway, who had rushed for just 14 yards coming into today's game, gained 40 yards on six carries to complement a Mountaineer ground game that churned out 192 yards.
"The two touchdown runs he had were big-time plays," West Virginia coach Neal Brown said. "He breaks a couple of tackles and squirts out for about 20 yards on the one and his second was a really physical run. He got north and south, something he didn't do the first two games he played."
Senior Kennedy McKoy led the way with 73 yards, Leddie Brown contributed 70 and quarterback Austin Kendall added a late 11-yard scramble on WVU's final possession of the game.
McKoy got things going on West Virginia's opening offensive possession of the game when he slipped into the end zone untouched from the 3 to conclude a 13-play, 71-yard march. His run temporarily quieted a vocal KU crowd of 35,816 that probably exceeded West Virginia's prior three trips to Memorial Stadium in 2013, 2015 and 2017.
But the home rooters had something to cheer about early in the second quarter when quarterback Carter Stanley hooked up with Kwame Lassiter II for a 28-yard touchdown once Lassiter broke free in the middle of the field and tight-roped down the near sideline into the end zone.
Those were Kansas' lone points of the first half.
Right before halftime, West Virginia marched from its own 49 to the KU 13 where Evan Staley got his 37-yard field goal to bounce off the cross bar and through with no time remaining to give the Mountaineers a 10-7 halftime lead.
All 17 points scored in the first half came with the wind to the back of the offenses.
In the second half, each team scored on its initial possession.
West Virginia marched from its 25 right into the end zone. A Kendall-to-Sean Ryan 4-yard pass to the KU 45 gave West Virginia a big third-down conversion, and two plays later McKoy broke free for 15 yards to the Kansas 30.
Kendall then found freshman Sam James for 11 to the 23 where Pettaway broke free at the line of scrimmage, pirouetted at the 13 and raced untouched into the end zone to give the Mountaineers a 17-7 advantage.
The two teams then traded field goals, Liam Jones booting a 23-yarder with 6:06 remaining in the third quarter and Staley kicking his second from the 34 two minutes later to keep West Virginia ahead 20-10.
But that lasted as long as it took for Andrew Parchment to run underneath a Stanley bomb he hauled in at the WVU 25 and took it into the end zone. Jones' conversion kick made it a three-point game with 4:08 left in the third quarter.
"They got us," Brown said. "Our safety wasn't playing his area. He got drawn down and the corner, it wasn't really on him, but you don't panic, you get ready for the next play, and I thought the offense did a good job to make a long drive to allow our defensive staff to make some adjustments."
West Virginia got its first points into the wind early in the fourth quarter when Staley's 22-yard field goal pushed the advantage to six with 12:35 remaining.
Keith Washington II's leaping interception at the Kansas 49 turned into more points when Pettaway got into the end zone for his second score from the KU 7. All but 6 of the yards on the drive came on the ground, as Pettaway used guard Chase Behrndt's block to get into the end zone with 5:04 left.
Brown opted to go for the two-point conversion instead of the conversion kick to try and get the lead to 14 points, but the Mountaineers were unsuccessful when Isaiah Esdale's pass fell incomplete.
The conversion wouldn't have been good anyway because the Mountaineers were caught with a player illegally downfield.
Therefore, West Virginia had to protect a 12-point lead with five minutes to go and Kansas only possessing two timeouts.
The Jayhawks didn't need to use them because they had little trouble marching right down the field. Four Stanley completions moved the ball to the West Virginia 16, and his fifth from the 3 to Parchment went for a touchdown off a rub-route out of a bunch formation. Jones' conversion kick made it a five-point game with 2:10 left and another down-to-the-wire Les Miles finish in the offing.
He had several of these when he coached at LSU.
Miles choose to try an onside kick that Sam James knocked out of bounds at the Kansas 48. It was the second time Miles tried some razzle-dazzle on a kickoff.
24769The first try following Parchment's long touchdown catch was illegally touched by a KU defender before Dante Bonamico could catch it and the ball was awarded to West Virginia. Had the ball been kicked on the ground there instead of pooched it would have been anyone's ball.
"We were lined up to take that away and I understand what Les was doing there. He just scored and was feeding of some momentum to try and get it back and I thought Bonamico was there to make the play," Brown said. "The call was right. I know the fans here didn't like it, but the call was the correct call."
Nevertheless, West Virginia used all but 38 seconds of the clock before Brown opted to have Josh Growden punt from the Kansas 34 to try and pin the Jayhawks inside the 10.
His kick landed at the 5 and bounced into the end zone, giving the Jayhawks the ball at their own 20 with no timeouts and just 32 seconds remaining.
"I was going to go for it if it was under 3 yards," Brown explained of his decision to punt the ball deep in Kansas territory. "I didn't feel good about (fourth and 6) and the other thing was the ball was going to be at the 35. The pooch punt is Josh's specialty and we didn't do a very good job covering that punt."
Stanley completed two passes out to the KU 48 with one play remaining. Instead of trying a Hail Mary pass into the end zone, Kansas opted to throw to Daylon Charlot at the WVU 33 where he lateraled to Parchment.
Pooka Williams eventually ended up with the ball at the WVU 15 before being forced out of bounds at the 12 to end the game.
Stanley completed 19-of-25 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns, but he was picked off once and fumbled once.
Parchment had another outstanding game with five catches for 132 yards and two scores one week after torching Boston College's defense for 100 yards and a pair of TDs in Kansas' big win in Chestnut Hill.
Kendall had another efficient day passing the football, completing 25-of-37 for 202 yards. James was the top target with six catches for 41 yards.
Saturday's victory boosts West Virginia's record to 3-1 and now gives the Mountaineers some extra time to get ready for their Oct. 5 clash with Texas, which is facing Oklahoma State tonight.
Kansas (2-2) will play at TCU next Saturday.