After two straight losses to Baylor and Oklahoma State, Kansas State welcomed the Texas Longhorns to Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Saturday for Senior Night. The Longhorns came in at 4-4 on the season, and having lost to the Wildcats in their previous two matchups.
Kansas State came in with many question marks on defense after giving up over 1100 yards combined in the previous two games. Coming in as one of the worst, if not the worst, rushing defense in the nation was the stat concerning most Wildcat fans. There was also some questions on whether or not the Wildcats would be able to move the ball against the Longhorn defense which some were saying was better than that of the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
All these questions would be answered very quickly in the game. Texas won the toss and decided to kick, a decision they would soon regret. William Powell took the opening kickoff back 62 yards and into Longhorn territory. The first surprise of the night happened when Collin Klein trotted off the sideline with the offense to take the start under center in place of Carson Coffman. Two plays later, Kansas State was riding the D-train to the end zone on a 34 yard touchdown run to grab a 7-0 lead just 53 seconds into the game.
The Wildcats would never look back.
After adding a field goal after an interception by Stephen Harrison, Kansas state took a 10-0 lead into the second quarter, and things kept rolling from there. After trading punts, Collin Klein scored on a 12-yard run one play after getting a first down on a rush in which Daniel Thomas threw a great downfield block to give Klein enough room to run.
Two drives later, Texas’ Garret Gilbert threw his second interception of the game, this one to Safety Tysyn Hartman, who returned it to the 10 yard line. One play later, Klein was adding his second touchdown of the day on a 10 yard scamper taking the score to 24-0
Texas started mounting a drive of their own toward the end of the second half, but the Wildcat defense stepped up again and, on a night dedicated to seniors, it was the Freshman Ty Zimmerman who intercepted Gilbert in the end zone with 20 seconds left, and the Cats kneeled the ball to end the half and take their 24-0 lead into the locker room.
At this point, there had been only two players who had touched the ball on offense, Collin Klein and Daniel Thomas. The Wildcats had 0, yes that’s right, zero, yards of passing in the first half. Klein only attempted two passes the entire half, and the Wildcats at one point ran 19 straight rushing plays, but with how much it was working, nobody was willing to complain.
The third quarter started on a sour note, Anthony Cantele sent the opening kickoff out of bounds, one of few Wildcat mistakes on the night. The taste did not last long though, as Gilbert started the second half the same way he ended the first, with an interception. This time, it was thrown to Hartman for his second interception on the night.
Two plays later, Daniel Thomas, who surpassed the 1000 yard mark for the season, rushed for his second score of the game making it 31-0. Three plays later, the trend for the defense continued. Ty Zimmerman netted his second interception and the fifth of the game for Gilbert.
After the teams traded punts a couple times, fan favorite William Powell got his first action of the game, and on his second rush punched his way into the end zone for a touchdown. On a wild extra point play, Kicker Josh Cherry had his kick blocked, picked the ball up, and ran it in for two points and a 39-0 Wildcat lead. The Longhorns finally answered with a score of their own early in the fourth quarter on a nice drive capped by a 4 yard carry by running back Cody Johnson.
The rest of the game consisted of the teams trading punts until the Longhorns added a late touchdown on a one yard pass from Gilbert to Dominique Jones to bring the score to 39-14. The Wildcats proceeded to take the Victory formation. When it was all said and done, the Purple Cloud continued to hang over Austin, Texas, and the Wildcats will be going Bowling for the first time in three years.
Kansas State finished the game with only four passing attempts. Klein was 2 of 4 for 9 yards on the game. He also added 127 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. Thomas added 107 yards and two touchdowns of his own on 18 carries, and was also on the receiving end of both of Klein’s completions. Total, the Wildcats ended with 270 yards of offense compared to 412 by the Longhorns.
Gilbert must be given some credit for the way he came back after the five interceptions. He went on to finish the game 32 of 59 for 272 yards and a touchdown, and 9 rushes for 93 yards. I say give him credit because even after the five interceptions, he never seemed to quit. He kept pushing along and playing the game when a lot of guys may get down on themselves.
Now it’s time for some of my thoughts on the game.
I would start with some negatives, but I really can’t think of any in this game as a whole. There were a couple penalties, but Kansas State never turned the ball over, and went in with an effective game plan that just tore the Longhorns apart and seemed to have them confused on both sides of the ball much of the night.
On the positive side, great coaching move by Bill Snyder to come out with Collin Klein in place of Carson Coffman for tonight’s game. Whether this was due to an injury or not, it worked out wonderfully for the Wildcats.
The defense looked absolutely amazing tonight, other than giving up the two touchdowns, the Wildcats forced five turnovers, and finally got to the quarterback in the fourth quarter for a sack. 412 yards of offense is still a little more than I would have liked to have seen, but the fact that only 14 points came off of it, and we stepped up when we needed to to get stops, whether that was on interceptions, or just holding Texas on fourth down, was impressive to say the least.
The Wildcats will look to carry this momentum to Missouri next week. The Tigers are coming off of a stunning 24-17 loss at the hands of the Texas Tech Red Raiders. This game scares me with it being away and the Tigers coming off a loss. That could have to potential to be a blowout, but I still never put anything past Snyder. I’ll venture a guess and say that next week will be an interesting game.
Senior Corey Adams completed his 442nd consecutive perfect snaps from the long snapper position for the Wildcats, and got a good amount of attention from the guys over at ESPN during the game.
Big kudos to Jo Paterno for becoming the first coach in NCAA football history with 400 wins.