Wildcats dismantle Nicholls in Kleiman debut

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Manhattan, Kan. (westernkansasnews.com)–New Kansas State Coach Chris Kleiman knows all about an FCS school pulling off an upset against FBS schools. Six years ago, Kleiman was a defensive coordinator for North Dakota State when they knocked off the Wildcats in Manhattan. Saturday night at Bill Snyder Stadium, Kansas State controlled the game from the very beginning, leading 28-0 at halftime, en route to a 49-14 win over the Colonels in front of the 11th straight home-opener sellout of 51,189.

The first half felt like a vintage K-State game, as the Wildcats scored on their first four possessions, all on the ground. With 8:45 left in the first quarter, Harry Trotter got the scoring started with a nine-yard run that capped off a 12-play, 72-yard drive that took over six minutes. Blake Lynch’s kick made it 7-0 Cats. Two plays later, an AJ Parker interceptions set up Kansas State at the Nicholls 28 yard line. Skylar Thompson would scramble and find the end zone from 17 yards out with 5:45 remaining in the opening quarter to push the lead to 14-0 with the Lynch PAT.

In the second period, North Carolina grad transfer Jordon Brown scored from 14 yards out to add to the lead at 21-0, nearly 90 seconds into the second quarter. The final score in the half came with 6:21 remaining before halftime, when Ball State grad transfer James Gilbert went up the middle for 24 yards out.. Lynch’s extra point made it 28-0, which would be the score at the break.

Nicholls came out of the locker room on a tear with a five-play, 75-yard drive to begin the second half. Kendall Bussey scored from 26 yards out with 12:46 left in the third quarter to cut into the lead at 28-7, with the Gunnar Jones PAT. 

In the fourth quarter, Kansas State added three scores. Their first came on the first play of the fourth quarter, when Sklylar Thompson connected with a wide open Dalton Schoen from 38 yards out to push the lead to 35-7. Just 16 seconds later, K-State scored defensively, when Jonathan Alexander stripped quarterback Chase Fourcade, and returned the ball 25 yards for a touchdown to extend the lead to 42-7 after the Lynch kick. The Wildcats scored one more time, when Tyler Burns punched it in from a yard out with 6:41 left to give K-State a 49-7 lead. Nicholls closed the scoring out with a Julien Gums three-yard run with 3:01 left to make the final 49-14.

Kansas State rushed for 361 yards, led by James Gilbert, who had 115 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown. Skylar Thompson was 16-22 with 212 yards and a touchdown. Dalton Schoen led the receiving corp with three catches for 65 yards and a touchdown. The Wildcats finished with 573 yards of offense, which was tied for the seventh most in school history. 

For Nicholls, Chase Fourcade was 10 of 18 passing for 126 yards and one interception. Julien Gums had 75 yards on 12 carries and two touchdown runs, while Dai’Jean Dixon had five receptions for 92 yards. The Colonels ended with 276 yards.

K-State dominated the time of possession at a 41-19 edge, and forced two turnovers. 

With the win, Kansas State won their 200th game at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. 

Kansas State hosts Bowling Green Saturday morning at 11, while Nicholls plays at Prairie View A&M Saturday evening.