Morgantown, WV (SportsNetwork.com) - Tyler Lockett had a 43-yard punt return touchdown and caught 10 passes for 196 yards to help lead No. 12 Kansas State to a 26-20 win over West Virginia on Thursday night.
Jake Waters passed for 400 yards with a 7-yard touchdown throw to DeMarcus Robinson, and the Wildcats (8-2, 6-1 Big 12) held on down the stretch to bounce back from a 21-point loss to TCU two weeks ago before their bye.
Skyler Howard passed for 198 yards and two touchdowns for West Virginia after Clint Trickett left the game in the third quarter with a concussion, but the Mountaineers (6-5, 4-4) lost their third in a row.
Howard's first touchdown pass went to Kevin White, Lockett's fellow Biletnikoff Award semifinalist. The other was a 53-yard catch-and-run by Mario Alford that got the Mountaineers within 23-17 midway through the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats won despite netting just one yard rushing compared to 123 for the Mountaineers. West Virginia had 27 first downs, nine more than Kansas State, and outgained the Wildcats 433-401 in total yards.
"It was frustrating. No game like this comes to mind off hand," said Kansas State coach Bill Snyder. "I think (our players) did do what they had to do to win the ball game. They're pleased about that and I certainly don't want to take that away from them."
Alford's touchdown started with a short reception on the left side of the field. He weaved around Kansas State defenders in the middle of the field and outran a half a dozen of them on the right side to get the Mountaineers within 23-17 with 7:23 remaining.
Matthew McCrane then kicked his fourth field goal of the game for Kansas State, a 32-yarder that made it 26-17 with 2:52 to play. Josh Lambert kicked a 25-yarder for West Virginia at the other end, but the Mountaineers were unable to recover an onside kick.
Earlier, after Waters hit Robinson for a touchdown on Kansas State's first drive, the Wildcats were whistled for pass interference to give West Virginia a first down at the 2-yard line.
But Trickett and Wendell Smallwood fumbled a handoff on the next play to give the ball right back to Kansas State.
Later, McCrane's 36-yard field goal 2:07 into the second quarter gave the Wildcats a 10-0 lead before Lambert made a 47-yarder for the Mountaineers.
West Virginia recovered Lockett's fumble on the ensuing kickoff -- leading to wild would-be touchdown that was ultimately overturned.
The play is sure to make highlight reels anyway after White alertly caught a pass intended for teammate Jordan Thompson that was redirected twice.
But replays showed the ball touched the ground as Kansas State's Dante Barnett rolled over onto his back trying to make the catch -- after it was tipped by Thompson and before it popped out of Barnett's hands and into the air for White, who grabbed it and fell into the end zone.
After all that, Lambert missed a 40-yard field goal try.
Lockett scored on a 43-yard return down the sideline to give the Wildcats a 17-3 lead with 1:12 left in the first half after what West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen called a "horrible punt" by Nick O'Toole.
"Our whole team went right and he mis-hit it left," said Holgorsen. "That's not a coaching error; that's a player error. If we send the team right, he needs to punt it right. He wasn't confused, he just missed it. It was obviously a big play."
Randall Evans intercepted Trickett with 13 ticks remaining on the clock, but Kyle Rose blocked McCrane's 34-yard field goal try as time expired to get the Mountaineers off the hook.
Dante Barnett intercepted Trickett's final pass, leading to McCrane's 44-yard field goal for a 20-3 Kansas State lead in the third quarter.
Howard led the Mountaineers to a touchdown on his first series, hitting White from seven yards out before McCrane's 19-yard field goal at the other end gave the Wildcats a 23-10 lead with 2:13 left in the third quarter.
A 15-play West Virginia drive that bled into the fourth quarter ended in an incomplete pass on fourth down from the Kansas State 26. However, McCrane hooked a 22-yard field goal attempt wide left at the other end for the Wildcats.
Lockett, who has already passed his father Kevin's Kansas State record for receiving yards, pulled within four catches of his dad's Wildcats record of 217 career receptions ... Kansas State leads the all-time series 4-1, including a 3-0 mark since West Virginia joined the Big 12 in 2012. The Wildcats had won the previous two meetings by an average of 32 points ... Wildcats defensive lineman Travis Britz was carted off the field early in the first quarter with an apparent left leg injury ... Kansas State plays Kansas next Saturday and closes the regular season at Baylor on Dec. 6 ... West Virginia has one regular-season game remaining, next Saturday at Iowa State.