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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia may have to finish the regular season without quarterback Clint Trickett.
Trickett suffered a concussion in the third quarter after throwing his second interception in West Virginia's 26-20 loss to No. 12 Kansas State 26-20 on Thursday night.
Trickett didn't return to the game, and coach Dana Holgorsen confirmed the injury afterward without elaborating. West Virginia will finish the regular season next week at Iowa State on a three-game losing streak and may not have Trickett available.
One of the lone bright spots for the Mountaineers (6-5, 4-4 Big 12) was the play of Skyler Howard, who threw two touchdown passes after Trickett left. Howard, a junior college transfer, went 15 of 23 for 198 yards.
"If you want to talk about something positive, that's something that was incredibly positive," Holgorsen said. "He went in there and didn't bat an eye. He was confident and comfortable and his communication was perfect. I can't tell you how impressed I was with how he went in there and performed."
On defense, West Virginia put little pressure on Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters, who threw for a career-high 400 yards and one score. The Mountaineers didn't get a sack and Holgorsen called his team's pass rush nonexistent.
"We didn't lay one finger on them," Holgorsen said. "We were rushing six, they were blocking six and we had nothing going."
West Virginia fell behind 17-3 at halftime and couldn't overcome its own mistakes. Three of West Virginia's four turnovers occurred inside the Kansas State 30, and Josh Lambert missed a 40-yard field goal try.
Matthew McCrane kicked four field goals for the Wildcats and Tyler Lockett caught 10 passes for 196 yards and returned a punt for a score.
Holgorsen said he approached Lockett after the game.
"I said, 'I am really glad you are graduating,'" Holgorsen said. "That kid is just a special, special football player."
Kansas State (8-2, 6-1 Big 12, No. 12 CFP) rebounded from a blowout loss at TCU to move into a tie with the idle Horned Frogs with two weeks left in the regular season. No. 6 Baylor can make it a three-way tie for first place with a win Saturday at home against Oklahoma State. Kansas State has games left at home against Kansas next week and at Baylor on Dec. 6.
Behind solid protection, Waters was 22-of-34 passing that included a 7-yard TD toss to DeMarcus Robinson on Kansas State's first drive.
"The receivers did a good job of getting open," Waters said. "We had a ton of open receivers and we just went out there and made plays. I felt good throwing the football."
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder was happy with Waters, but that was about it. The Wildcats ran 29 times for 1 yard and were penalized 10 times for 102 yards.
Lockett returned a punt 43 yards just before halftime to put the Wildcats ahead 17-3. West Virginia punter Nick O'Toole was supposed to kick the ball to the right, but Lockett fielded the ball on the other side of the field and scored untouched.
"Horrible punt," Holgorsen said. "Our whole team went right and he mishit it left."
Howard rallied the Mountaineers on his first series, running 16 yards to set up his 7-yard TD toss to Kevin White that trimmed the Wildcats' lead to 23-10 midway through the third quarter. After McCrane missed a 22-yard field goal, Howard hit Mario Alford with a short pass, and he went 53 yards untouched to make it 23-17 with 7:23 left in the fourth quarter.
But Michael Molinari's ensuing kickoff went out of bounds. Waters hit Lockett across the middle for 28 yards to the West Virginia 25 and McCrane's fourth field goal made it a two-possession game.
Lambert made a 25-yard field goal with 53 seconds left. West Virginia then tried an onside kick that Kansas State's Glenn Gronkowski recovered.