Junior quarterback Will Grier passed for 347 yards and two touchdowns Saturday and also rushed for two more scores as West Virginia opened Big 12 play by toppling Kansas 56-34 at Lawrence, Kan.
Senior running back Justin Crawford, the Big 12 rushing leader, added 125 yards on 18 carries as the Mountaineers improved to 3-1.
Sophomore running back Kennedy McKoy also cracked the 100-yard mark with 105 yards on 12 attempts. Junior wide receiver David Sills led the West Virginia receivers with eight catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns.
Kansas (1-3) staged a second-half rally, pulling within 35-27 in the third quarter on scoring runs of 5 yards by Khalil Herbert and 1 yard by Taylor Martin.
Herbert was most responsible for the Jayhawks’ offensive success, bolting for 291 yards on 36 carries, the third best day by a Kansas rusher, topping a 283-yard effort by Gale Sayers. The 564-yard output by the Jayhawks was their best in Big 12 play since 2009, but the Mountaineers countered with 635 yards.
Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender passed for 197 yards, but was intercepted twice and tossed just one touchdown.
West Virginia stemmed the third-quarter uprising by Kansas with an 86-yard touchdown drive.
The Mountaineers stalled on fourth down, but Kansas defensive end Dorance Armstrong jumped offside on a field goal attempt. That put the ball at the Kansas 7 and Grier connected with Sims on a 7-yard TD strike with 11:02 remaining.
The Jayhawks got within one score again on a 7-yard pass from Bender to Steven Sims with 7:35 remaining. The Mountaineers, however, countered with a 72-yard touchdown drive Grier capped with a 3-yard keeper at the 5:16 mark.
West Virginia then forced Bender to lose a fumble after the Jayhawks took over possession. Grier scored on a 3-yard run with 4:42 left as the Mountaineers needed just two plays to go 31 yards.
In addition to West Virginia’s offensive efficiency in the first half, cornerback Mike Daniels returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown with 36 seconds remaining.
Grier completed 11 of 14 passes for 126 yards on the three scoring drives, while Crawford and McKoy balanced the attack with big gains on the ground. McKoy scored on touchdown runs of 7 and 23 yards, while Crawford scored from 11 yards out.
Kansas dropped its third straight game, but prospered from the second straight 100-yard rushing performance from Herbert, who scored his first TD on a 67-yard burst with 4:11 left in the first half.