MANHATTAN, Kan. – Junior wide receiver Isaiah Zuber’s career-best two touchdowns paced a Kansas State offense that rolled up 449 total yards and five touchdowns, as the Wildcats defeated UTSA, 41-10, in front of 50,618 fans at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Saturday.
Of the 449 offensive yards, 285 came through the air, as sophomore quarterback Skylar Thompson set a new career high in passing yards (213), while Zuber set new career highs in receiving yards (144), receptions (7) and touchdowns (2). Thompson also led the Wildcat rushing unit, as he carried for 66 yards on 14 attempts and a touchdown.
Defensively, K-State (2-1, 0-0 Big 12) held their opponent to under 20 points for the first time this season, as UTSA (0-3, 0-0 Conference USA) totaled 300 yards of total offense in the game. Sophomore defensive back AJ Parker led the Wildcats in tackles with seven.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Wildcats wasted no time jumping ahead of the Roadrunners on Saturday, as K-State used a 10-play, 78-yard drive on their opening possession to grab an early 7-0 lead. The drive was spurred by a 37-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Skylar Thompson to senior wide receiver Zach Reuter, which put the Wildcats into position to punch in a 3-yard touchdown rush by junior running back Alex Barnes, his first rushing touchdown of the season.
With five minutes remaining in the first quarter, UTSA evened the score at 7-7 on a play-action pass from junior quarterback Cordale Grundy to junior fullback Halen Steward.
K-State moved down the field again later in the first quarter, in a drive that saw Barnes bring in a catch for 30 yards from Thompson. The reception marked a new career-long touchdown reception for Barnes, leading to a 33-yard Blake Lynch field goal to bring the score to 10-7.
On the ensuing K-State offensive possession, the Wildcats continued to navigate through the air, as Thompson aired out a 42-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Dalton Schoen to expand their lead to 17-7. The touchdown reception marked Schoen’s fifth of his career, with an average touchdown length of 45.8 yards.
With under a minute remaining in the first half, the Wildcats ran off 10 points, including a 23-yard touchdown pass from Thompson to junior wide receiver Isaiah Zuber and a 42-yard field goal from Lynch to bring the score to 27-7. The Wildcats went into the break with 290 total yards on offense 213 of which came through the air.
Following a strong first half through the air, Thompson made use of his running abilities to start the second half, taking a 27-yard read-option for a touchdown on the first K-State possession of the second-half. The touchdown rush marked a career-long for Thompson as the Wildcats led 34-7 with 9:15 left in the third quarter.
Junior quarterback Alex Delton took over for Thompson at quarterback late in the third quarter, where he connected with a familiar target, Zuber for a 72-yard touchdown on his first attempt. The reception for Zuber marked his first-career two-touchdown performance, while also putting him over a career-high in receiving yards. The score put the Wildcats up, 41-7 with 3:31 left in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, UTSA found the end zone following a K-State fumble in Roadrunner territory. UTSA capitalized on the turnover on the first play of the drive, as senior quarterback D.J. Gillins connected with senior wide receiver Greg Campbell Jr. for a 10-yard touchdown pass to bring the score to 41-17 with 3:35 remaining in the game.
K-State finished with 449 yards of total offense, averaging out to 7.1 yards per play. The Wildcats also made efficient use of their trips to the red zone, scoring on all three of their opportunities.
OFFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Skylar Thompson – The Wildcat quarterback surpassed his career high in passing on Saturday, throwing for 213 yards through the air on 13-of-18 passing. Thompson found seven different receivers throughout the game, including finding Zuber for six receptions, 72 yards and a touchdown. In addition to his stellar day passing, Thompson led the Wildcats in rushing, accumulating 66 yards on 14 attempts and a touchdown.
Isaiah Zuber – On the receiving end of seven passes, Zuber set or tied career-marks in all three receiving cateogries, accumulating seven receptions, 144 receiving yards and two touchdowns on Saturday, as the junior led the Wildcats in receiving for the second time this season.
DEFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE GAME
AJ Parker –Parker led the K-State defensive unit in total tackles on Saturday, garnering 7 total tackles and one tackle for loss. Parker’s 7 tackles are the second-most of his career, after totaling 8 tackles against TCU in 2017.
Eli Walker – Senior defensive back Eli Walker accumulated five tackles, including a fourth-down tackle-for-loss in the third quarter on Saturday. Walker’s five tackles are the second-most in his career, as he made six tackles against Iowa State in 2017.
SPECIAL TEAMS STAR OF THE GAME
Blake Lynch – Placekicker Blake Lynch continued to put the ball between the uprights on Saturday, connecting on each of his two field goal attempts from 33 and 42 yards out. Lynch has now connected on 7-of-8 field goals this season, with a long of 44 yards against South Dakota in the home opener. Lynch’s seven field goal conversions are the most in the first three games of the season since Jack Cantele in 2015.