What was a close game on paper for the Kansas State football team turned into a dominant 38-17 steamrolling of the Wolf Pack.
The Kansas State football team hosted the Nevada Wolf Pack for the Week 3 matchup on Sept. 18. The Wildcats sent their fans home happy, racking up 21 fourth-quarter points en route to a 38-17 win.
Saturday’s largest storyline was the absence of sixth-year senior quarterback Skylar Thompson. He left the game against Southern Illinois after suffering a non-contact knee injury.
Days after the game, Kansas State head football coach Chris Klieman said that Thompson will “be out indefinitely with a knee injury.” Sophomore quarterback Will Howard received the starting nod, following a below-par performance filling in against Southern Illinois.
Howard bounced back against Nevada, completing seven of 10 attempts for123 yards and one touchdown, and added 12 carries for 56 yards and two scores.
“This is the most fun I’ve had playing football in a long time,” said Howard. “Our team played a heck of a game from start to finish. I couldn’t be more proud of our resolve and how we stuck it out throughout the whole game.”
Aside from Howard’s performance, the Wildcats certainly lived up to their slogan, “Pound the Stone”. Kansas State rushed for 269 yards as a team, led by sophomore running back Deuce Vaughn. He had 127 yards and a score off of 23 attempts. Vaughn also became the 32nd player in school history to achieve 1,000 career rushing yards, reaching the milestone in his 13th game.
“That’s just a testament to my o-line upfront,” Vaughn said, according to the Kansas State postgame quotes. “They did their thing today and all week dating back to last year. I love those boys upfront, the tight ends, fullbacks. I wouldn’t be in the position I am in without them.”
The Wildcats offensive line certainly dominated Nevada in the trenches, not surrendering a single sack and only three tackles for loss. On the other hand, the Kansas State defense handled business upfront. The unit racked up six tackles for loss and three sacks, giving Nevada junior quarterback Carson Strong all he could handle.
Kansas State held Nevada to 331 total yards of offense, well below their average of 479 yards. Nevada only mustered 25 rushing yards on 23 attempts, a testament to the defense’s front line.
“We feel like we have something to prove every time we go out there,” junior linebacker Daniel Green said, according to the Kansas State postgame quotes. Green was a star and racked up a team-high nine tackles and one sack.
“The bus on the revenge tour doesn’t have any rear-view mirrors. We’re not looking back. We’re only looking forward. We call it ‘just eating crumbs’ right now,” he added.
Between Kansas State’s lack of turnovers and ability to hold NFL-prospect-level quarterbacks in check, the win against Nevada is a confidence booster heading into Big 12 competition. The Wolf Pack were no easy competition and were the betting favorite over the Wildcats entering Saturday’s game. The dominant win comes before Kansas State travels to Stillwater, Okla., to face the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The first 2021 Big 12 game for either team, the outcome of Sept. 25’s game will set the expectations for both squads.
For now, the Wildcats are undefeated and have all the momentum they can handle.
“It’s a heck of a win and it’s momentum,” Howard said, according to the Kansas State postgame quotes. “We’re keeping the bus rolling. It’s the ‘revenge tour’ and it’s far from over. We’ll take this momentum. We’re going to put it behind us, and keep rowing, and work our butts off for next week.”