MANHATTAN, Kan. – K-State honored 21 seniors on Saturday afternoon, a group that has led the Wildcats to more than a few memorable wins in Manhattan.
Senior Day was not one of them, as K-State (4-6, 4-5 Big 12) fell 69-31 to Texas (6-3, 5-3 Big 12) in its regular-season finale at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
“I thought they had a really good game plan, and their kids were ready to battle and play. They took it to us,” Chris Klieman said. “Disappointed in the loss, disappointed in the outcome, not disappointed in the resolve and effort of our players. Not disappointed that we played 10 football games this year, when not many people played that many games.”
The Wildcats struggled to keep pace with Texas on defense, as the Longhorns racked up 334 yards on the ground and 274 yards throwing the football.
The 69 points are the most K-State has ever given up to Texas.
Deuce Vaughn continued to rewrite the K-State record books on Saturday with two touchdowns and 221 all-purpose yards against the Longhorns.
With his performance on Saturday, Vaughn now holds the K-State freshman record for yards from scrimmage, all-purpose yards and rushing yards.
“Winning the ballgame is the biggest thing when you step onto that field on Saturday. We couldn’t get it done today,” Vaughn said. “Whether we have a bowl game or not, and I’m hoping that we do so I get to play one more time with these boys, I’m going to work on being a leader. That’s what’s been preached all year.”
One week after the heaviest workload of his career, Vaughn was even more efficient against the Longhorns.
Lining up in the backfield, as a receiver and on special teams as a kick returner, Vaughn powered the K-State offense all afternoon.
“I know how special he is,” Will Howard said. “At this point, nothing he does surprises me…He’s an incredibly mature kid, an awesome teammate and a heck of a football player.”
On K-State’s first scoring drive of the game, Vaughn broke off a 19-yard rushing touchdown, putting moves on the Texas defense on his way to the end zone.
It would be a theme throughout the afternoon. On all five scoring drives for the Wildcats, Vaughn had a catch or reception of at least 10 yards.
When he wasn’t setting the Wildcats up with scoring opportunities, Vaughn was more than happy to do it himself.
His second touchdown of the day came after a 12-play, 80-yard drive for the Wildcats, as Vaughn added an exclamation point by hurdling a man into the end zone.
With nine touchdowns in 2020, Vaughn now leads all true freshmen in the country.
And he’s nowhere close to satisfied.
“Coach Dawson and the strength staff are going to take care of the physical stuff with the offseason, but mentally I’m going to take care of the leadership part,” Vaughn said. “Gaining weight, getting stronger and trying to take my mental game to the next level.”
He wasn’t the only player to step up when the Wildcats had the football, as Malik Knowles turned in his best game of the season with 95 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Longhorns.
A threat on the jet sweep – adding 16 yards on the ground – and through the air, Knowles helped spread the field for Will Howard.
Howard broke the K-State freshman record for touchdowns with his third quarter strike to Knowles, his eighth touchdown pass of the season.
“We’ll be able to grow a lot from this, take the lessons that we learned and that I learned and apply them in the offseason,” Howard said. “This is a storied program, it’s an honor to be here and I’m proud to be in this position. But, I’m not satisfied with where I am.”
Howard finished with the day with 174 yards and a pair of touchdowns through the air, along with 79 yards on the ground.
The Wildcats can finish no worse than seventh in the Big 12 after Saturday’s loss.
“The players need to take ownership of the program,” Klieman said. “That’s when we’ll turn the corner, when the kids take the ownership of the program and not the coaches. We have enough of the right guys coming back, that I believe that can happen.”