No. 23 Kansas State Edges Kansas 31-27

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Devin Neal rushed for 138 yards and three touchdowns, but it was not enough as the No. 23 Kansas State Wildcats defeated the Kansas Jayhawks 31-27 in the Dillons Sunflower Showdown on Saturday night at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

Neal’s three rushing touchdowns brought his career total to 30, passing Tony Sands for third in program history. He also surpassed 1,000 rushing yards for the second consecutive season, making him the third player in program history to accomplish the feat. He joined Pooka Williams (2018-19) and James Sims (2012-13).

After a Kansas State score on its opening drive, the Jayhawks struck even on their second possession of the night, scoring on an 11 play, 82-yard drive that resulted in Neal breaking loose on a 36-yard touchdown rush.

Kansas held the Wildcats on the ensuing possession and scored a second touchdown on a rush by Neal. The touchdown was set up by a 33-yard pass from freshman quarterback Cole Ballard to wide receiver Luke Grimm, which was capped off by a 9-yard touchdown rush by Neal. Kansas State blocked the extra point attempt and returned it for two points, making the score 13-9 with 10:57 remaining in the first half.

Kansas State used an eight-play drive that covered 75 yards to regain the lead. Two plays after a penalty was called when it appeared Kansas had gotten a fourth-down stop, the Wildcats scored on an 11-yard touchdown pass to take a 16-13 lead with 7:26 to play in the first half.

The Jayhawks regained possession and used up almost the rest of the time in the first half, draining 7:00 off the clock and scoring on the 13th play of a 75-yard drive. Ballard stood in the pocket facing a KSU rush and found Lawrence Arnold for a five-yard touchdown that put KU on top 20-16 just before halftime.

Out of the half, Kansas State kicked the ball out of bounds to give Kansas the ball at the 40-yard line. On Kansas’ first offensive play, the Jayhawks struck big on a 59-yard pass to tight end Mason Fairchild, which put Kansas at the 6-yard line. Two plays later, Kansas scored a 2-yard option to Neal, which put Kansas up 27-16 with 13:28 remaining in the third quarter.

Kansas State responded with a 10-play, 87-yard drive to bring the score to 27-24 with 6:35 to go in the third quarter.

After back-to-back empty possessions for both teams, Kansas State would retake the lead for the first time since the second quarter, when quarterback Will Howard rushed for a 15-yard touchdown to give the Wildcats a 31-28 lead with 10:22 remaining.

Kansas was able to move the ball on their next possession. The Jayhawks drove it down into the red zone, but the drive stalled at the Kansas State 11-yard line.

Kansas State took over the ball with 5:33 remaining and iced the game with three first downs. Kansas did not get the ball again.

Kansas will finish off its regular season schedule by traveling to Cincinnati, Ohio to take on the Cincinnati Bearcats on Saturday, November 25. The meeting between the Jayhawks and Bearcats will be the third in the series history and the first as members of the Big 12 Conference. The two teams last played in 1997 in Cincinnati, which the Bearcats won, 34-7. Kansas won the inaugural matchup in 1995 in Lawrence, 23-18.