West Virginia beat nationally ranked Kansas State at its own game Saturday in a 37-10 victory at Milan Puskar Stadium.
Entering the game, the Wildcats led the Big 12 in interceptions, but in this Halloween showdown, the Mountaineers were the ones who played takeaway.
WVU intercepted three of K-State freshman quarterback Will Howard’s passes. Defensive backs Nicktroy Fortune and Sean Mahone intercepted balls in the first quarter, while linebacker Dylan Tonkery recorded a pick-six in the third quarter that put the game far out of reach.
Senior linebacker Tony Fields, who recorded a career-high 15 tackles in the victory, said those takeaways gave the Mountaineers the momentum they needed to pull off an upset.
“You see anybody get a turnover, you get excited, and like I said earlier this week — with us, our defense, we’re really learning to feed off each other,” Fields said. “Once our brother makes a play, it’s like we made a play.”
Brown was particularly pleased that Tonkery, a native of Bridgeport, W.Va., was able to cash his interception in for points.
“So happy for Tonkery to get that in the end zone,” Brown said. “One of our very own, so that was a great moment.”
This three-takeaway performance came one game after the Mountaineers fell to Texas Tech after the Red Raider defense scored the decisive touchdown off a fumble.
But Brown thinks there’s another stat that played an even bigger role in this WVU win. The Mountaineers gave up just 41 rushing yards, limiting explosive Wildcat freshman Deuce Vaughn to 23 total yards of offense on 11 touches.
West Virginia is now 4-0 this season when it holds an opponent below 100 yards rushing, but is 0-2 when its opponent eclipses the century mark in that category.
Brown thinks the difference in this game was simple.
“I just thought we were physical and played with a lot of energy,” Brown said. “I know that sounds simple, but a lot of times, defense, man — if you’re physical and you fly around, you’ve got a chance. We played with a lot of energy and a lot of physicality.”