Big Finish Propels No. 22 Kansas State Past Bears, 51-9
Sept. 1, 2012
MANHATTAN, Kan. -The Missouri State Bears matched 22nd-ranked Kansas State blow for blow for nearly three quarters Saturday before the Wildcats reeled off 42 unanswered points to run away with a 51-9 victory before a sellout crowd of 50,007 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Kansas State rushed for 324 yards-including 222 in the second half--on 40 total carries, and Collin Klein passed for 169 yards and a pair of second-half touchdowns to lead the Wildcat attack.
The Wildcat defense and special teams fueled the second-half rally as well. KSU got a lift from a pair of big punt returns that led to touchdowns, while its defensive unit held MSU scoreless after a game-tying field goal at the end of the Bears' opening drive of the second half.
The Bears' offense did enjoy success moving the football, as Ashton Glaser paced the Missouri State offense, throwing for 257 yards on 22-of-44 passing. Dorian Buford turned in a career game of 114 yards on seven catches to lead the receiving corps, and Cadarrius Dotsongrabbed six receptions for 82 yards to top the 1,000 career receiving yardage mark, moving to 15th on the Bears' all-time list.
After both defenses combined to seal the goal lines over the first 38 minutes of the contest, Klein came up with the game-changing play when he found Tramaine Thompson in the corner of the end zone on a critical third-and-14 from the Missouri State 18-yard line to put the Wildcats on top for good, 16-9. That play capped a 48-yard drive over which Klein was a perfect 5-of-5 for 45 yards through the air.
Just as they did all night, special teams played a pivotal role in another KSU scoring chance that ultimately handed the Wildcats their first double-digit lead of the night late in the third quarter. MSU's Chris Sullensboomed the first of three long punts to send return man Tyler Lockett deep into his own territory, but the sophomore outran the Bears' coverage to bring the ball all the way to the MSU 32 with a 43-yard return. Five plays later, Braden Wilson took it in from four yards out to make it a two-touchdown game.
In spite of a 67-yard Sullens punt that pinned the Wildcats on the two-yard line early in the fourth period, KSU found a way once again. On the second play of the drive, John Hubert took a handoff from Klein and raced 95 yards to the end zone to put KSU up, 30-9. Hubert's dash eclipsed a Missouri State opponent record for the longest rush in program history, as well as a Bill Snyder Family Stadium record.
KSU's Nigel Malone came up with his second key defensive play of the night moments later, intercepting a Glaser pass and returning the ball 18 yards to the MSU eight yard line. The Wildcats needed just two plays to punch it in, as Klein hit Chris Harper from one yard out to stretch the lead to 37-9 with just over 10 minutes to play.
The Wildcats piled on a pair of meaningless touchdowns late, including an 89-yard punt return by Thompson, to run the margin to a comfortable 42 points.
The lopsided finish came in the wake of a highly competitive first half that was highlighted by big plays from both offenses and a series of key red zone stops by each defensive unit. Wildcat kicker Anthony Cantele booted three field goals, while the Bears' Austin Witmernailed a pair of kicks to account for all of the scoring in a 9-6 opening stanza.
The Wildcats wasted little time in taking the upper hand, taking the opening drive 69 yards on 11 plays before Cantele put the home club on the board with a 23-yard field goal. Klein drove the attack, completing all five of his pass attempts for 52 yards, including a key 37-yard pitch and catch with Travis Tannahill to put the Wildcats deep into MSU territory.
Missouri State answered with a promising drive of its own, capitalizing on a 18-yard completion from Glaser to Dotson on fourth and two from the KSU 38 yard line to set up their first scoring opportunity of the season. Glaser came up big again, this time connecting with Julian Burtonon a third and seven from the 18-yard line. The sophomore receiver picked up the first down and was just three yards from the pay dirt when Malone forced a momentum-changing fumble that Thomas Ferguson scooped up in the end zone for a touchback.
But the Bears' defense rose to the occasion, forcing two consecutive three-and-outs by the Wildcat offense to counter the early turnover.
Behind the passing of Glaser and a 25-yard scamper by Vernon Scott, the Bears' offense would pull even late in the opening quarter. Glaser found Buford for a 19-yard gain, before Scott's run set up MSU with a first down at the Wildcat 16-yard line. MSU would move the ball to the seven, but Ryan Heastoncame up short of the marker on a third and one. Witmer's 24-yard field goal capped the six-play, 53-yard drive and made it a 3-3 game with 0:15 left in the period.
In all, the Bears would outgain the Wildcats in the first quarter, 145 to 90 yards in total offense, while recording six first downs to four for KSU.
Kansas State regained the lead late in the second, thanks in large part to a ground game that accounted for 44 of 51 yards over an 11-play drive that chewed up nearly six and a half minutes. The MSU defense put the brakes on the drive by stopping Klein short on a third-and-goal rush from the four, and Cantele once again booted the go-ahead kick, converting from 19 yards out this time with just 3:35 to play in the first half.
Sophomore quarterback Kierra Harrisanswered right back for MSU, hitting Buford in stride for a 56-yard gain on the very next play from scrimmage to set up the Bears with a first-and-10 at the Wildcat 19. KSU held strong from there, but Witmer's second successful kick of the night knotted the score with 2:05 to go.
The Wildcats had the last laugh in the half, going 58 yards, thanks to a 21-yard rush by Klein and a 20-yard completion to Curry Sexton on successive snaps to set up another scoring chance. The Bears' defense came through on yet another third-down play deep in its own territory, forcing an incompletion from the eight and force Cantele's third field goal, this one good from 25 yards.
Kansas State outgained the Bears by the slimmest of margins in the first half (212 to 211 in total yardage). Klein led the way with 46 yards rushing on 11 attempts, while going 11-of-18 for 102 yards through the air.
The final yardage tally saw KSU hold a 493 to 418 advantage, thanks largely to 323 yards passing for MSU. Scott led the Bears' rushing game with 64 yards on 11 carries, while Hubert racked up a game-high 152 yards on 12 totes for the Wildcats.
Up next, the Bears (0-1) will take on No. 25 Louisville Saturday (Sept. 8) at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in a 2:30 p.m. (Central) game.