MANHATTAN, Kan.– The Kansas State Wildcats used a late fourth quarter game-winning touchdown drive and a crucial defensive stop in the final minute to record their 10th consecutive victory in the Dillon’s Sunflower Showdown, defeating Kansas 21-17 in front of 50,062 fans at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Saturday.
Junior quarterback Alex Delton’s 21-yard scamper gave K-State (4-6, 2-5 Big 12) the lead with 2:46 to play before sophomore defensive end Bronson Massie recovered a fumble by Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender with 20 seconds remaining to clinch head coach Bill Snyder’s 23rd win over the Jayhawks in the last 27 meetings.
Snyder’s 23 wins being the most by all active head coaches over any one opponent. The Wildcats improve to 13-1 at home under Snyder in the series.
While Delton finished the day with 126 yards passing on 11-of-17 completions to go with 55 yards rushing, junior running back Alex Barnes enjoyed a milestone day, becoming the 16th Wildcat to reach the 1,000-yard plateau in a season in school history. He finished the day with 117 yards on 22 attempts and 2 rushing touchdowns. Barnes now has the seventh-most career rushing yards (2,296) and ninth-most rushing touchdowns (24) in school history.
Defensively, K-State held Kansas (3-7, 1-6 Big 12) out of the end zone in the final minutes to cap off their victory. Throughout the game, K-State forced the Jayhawks into 2 turnovers, while recording 5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage throughout the contest.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Defense proved to be influential from the opening snap, as redshirt freshman defensive end Wyatt Hubert burst through the Kansas offensive line to record a sack on the first play of the game, resulting in an opening-drive 3-and-out for the Jayhawks.
After a 27-yard Kansas punt, the Wildcats worked with a short field with the drive stalling in Jayhawk territory. The Wildcats attempted a 53-yard attempt by redshirt freshman placekicker Andrew Hicks, though the attempt came up short.
With a scoreless first quarter, the Jayhawks got on the scoreboard first with a long 18-play, 94-yard drive that resulted in a 21-yard field goal from placekicker Gabriel Rui to take over a 3-0 lead with 5:38 left in the half.
The theme of the first half was strong defensive play from both units, as the teams combined for 225 yards in the first half. The Jayhawks held the advantage with time of possession, retaining the ball for 20:58 in the half, as compared to
K-State’s 9:02 time of possession.
The scoreless half for the Wildcats was the first for Kansas since the 2008 edition of the Sunflower Showdown.
Leading by 3, Kansas recovered the second-half kickoff after a short kick, giving the Jayhawks the football in K-State territory at the 35 yard-line. Despite Kansas’ starting field possession, the Wildcat defense held strong, forcing Kansas to go for it on 4th and 8, which led to a 9-yard sack by junior defensive end Chase Johnston.
On the ensuing possession, the K-State offense marched 64 yards on five plays, capped off by a 24-yard touchdown rush by junior running back Alex Barnes, as K-State took the lead at 7-3 with 11:59 left in the third quarter.
Kansas responded with a touchdown of its own, as the Jayhawks moved 75-yards down the field on 9 plays, including a 9-yard touchdown pass from senior quarter Peyton Bender to senior wide receiver Jeremiah Booker to retake the lead at 10-7 with 7:48 left in the third quarter.
After a scoreless first half, the Wildcats found the end zone on their first two possessions of the second half, with the latter coming on a two-yard rush by Barnes out of the Wildcat formation. The score put K-State back ahead, 14-10 with 2:57 left in the third. Barnes’ touchdown rush also put him over the 1,000-yard mark on the season.
Kansas responded on its next offensive possession, as Bender found wide receiver senior Steven Sims across the middle for a 66-yard touchdown. Kansas led 17-14 with 14:46 remaining in the game.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats put together a game-winning scoring drive, spurred by a 26-yard completion from sophomore quarterback Alex Delton to junior wide receiver Dalton Schoen, putting the Wildcats in scoring position. On the next play, Delton took the ball himself 21 yards for a score, giving K-State the lead, 21-17 with 2:46 left.
Needing to keep Kansas out of the end zone to hold on to the victory, the Wildcats pressured Bender to lose possession before throwing the football, resulting in a fumble recovered by sophomore defensive end Bronson Massie. The Wildcats were able to run out the clock to secure the Governor’s Cup trophy.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Alex Barnes– Junior running back Alex Barnes reached the 1,000-yard plateau for the season, becoming the 16th Wildcat to accomplish the feat in program history. Barnes carried the ball 22 times for 117 yards and 2 touchdowns on Saturday, moving him into seventh all-time in career rushing yards (2,296). Barnes’ two scores also moves him into ninth all-time in career rushing touchdowns (24).
DEFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Justin Hughes – Junior linebacker Justin Hughes forced a fumble on Saturday, while also totaling 5 tackles, including 3 that came behind the line of scrimmage.
Da’Quan Patton – Junior linebacker Da’Quon Patton registered a team-high 9 tackles, including 7 solo tackles, leading the K-State unit to several key defensive stops. Patton’s 9 tackles tied a career-high set earlier this season at West Virginia.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Chase Johnston – After recording his first career sack on defense in the third quarter, junior defensive end Chase Johnston proved crucial on special teams as well, forcing the Jayhawks into their first turnover of the game in the third quarter.
STAT OF THE GAME
23– With Saturday’s victory in the 116th Dillon’s Sunflower Showdown the Wildcats have won their 10th straight game over Kansas, including Bill Snyder’s 23rd victory over the Jayhawks in the last 27 meetings. The 23 victories under Snyder are the most by all active head coaches over any one opponent.