By LUKE MEREDITH
AP Sports Writer
AMES, Iowa (AP) — West Virginia could’ve packed it in after its Big 12 title hopes crashed last week.
The Mountaineers, bolstered by freshman Martell Pettaway and a sensational afternoon from quarterback Skyler Howard, made sure that didn’t happen.
Howard threw for 330 yards and tied a career high with five touchdowns and No. 19 West Virginia rolled past Iowa State 49-19 on Saturday.
Pettaway burned his redshirt and ran for 181 yards in his debut for the Mountaineers (9-2, 6-2 Big 12), who outscored Iowa State 28-3 in the second half.
“There have been three or four times where we’ve been real close to putting him in,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said of Pettaway, who had 30 carries. “He was ready. He’s a smart kid. He looked good too.”
Howard’s 71-yard TD toss to Shelton Gibson and Pettaway’s 4-yard touchdown run, the first of his career, made it 35-19 late in the third quarter.
“I’m saying something in the huddle. He’s like ‘Yeah, let’s do this,” Howard said of Pettaway.
Justin Crawford, who ran for 331 yards against Oklahoma last week, was injured and replaced by Pettaway after two series. Crawford got “bumped in the knee” according to WVU running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider. He is expected to play next week.
Kene Nwangwu had a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and Cole Netten kicked four field goals to lead Iowa State (3-9, 2-7). But settling for three instead of converting for seven points — and losing the turnover battle 4-0 — killed the Cyclones chances.
“We didn’t give up a touchdown to their offense. That’s winning defense,” Holgorsen said.
Jacob Park threw for 371 yards and David Montgomery ran for 141 yards for Iowa State, which saw its two-game winning streak snapped.
“Our inconsistency…you turn the ball over four times inside the 50-yard line against a team like that, it’s going to prohibit you from having great success,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers blew a chance at a possible conference title run with an ugly 56-28 loss to the Sooners last week. Beating the Cyclones on the road might not seem like much, but the Mountaineers showed resolve in a game that was close for a half.
Iowa State: The improvement the Cyclones made from September to November was impressive, even though the game snowballed out of control Saturday. It figured to take a few years for Iowa State to become respectable in the Big 12. With a full offseason, a year of conference play under his belt and an emerging quarterback in Park, Campbell might get the Cyclones near bowl contention in 2017.
West Virginia tumbled nine spots last week. But the three teams ahead of the Mountaineers; Auburn, Nebraska and Houston, lost this week.
This was the third five-touchdown game for Howard, who also did it against Arizona State in 2015 and Youngstown State earlier this season. Gibson had 161 yards receiving on just three catches…Iowa State backup quarterback Joel Lanning, who ran for five TDs last week in a 66-10 blowout of Texas Tech, didn’t register a pass or a carry. …West Virginia threw for 341 yards and ran for 272. It also stopped Iowa State 11 times on 15 third-down chances.
CYCLONES IN 2017
Iowa State brings back the majority of its starters for 2017, including Park, Montgomery, standout receiver Allen Lazard and defensive backs Kamari Cotton-Moya and Brian Peavy. The offensive line will have to be rebuilt, but offensive coordinator/line coach Tom Manning was nominated for the Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant, for cobbling together a decent unit out of thin air this season.
West Virginia closes the regular season against Baylor, which has lost five straight.