February 3, 2023

K-State pulls away from KU to earn Big 12 title game spot

Kansas State wide receiver Malik Knowles, top, celebrates with linemen KT Leveston (70) and Hayden Gillum (55) after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter of the team's NCAA college football game against Kansas on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Manhattan, Kan. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

Manhattan, Kan. (westernkansasnews.com)–Kansas State needed a win to secure a spot in the Big 12 Championship game. Standing in their way were the in-state rival Kansas Jayhawks. The Wildcats used a strong special teams performance, and pulled away in the fourth quarter to earn a 47-27 victory over the Jayhawks, earning a spot in the Big 12 Championship game.

Will Howard would throw for 213 yards, on 11-21 passing, and had two touchdown passes. All of his passing yards came in the first half. He attempted just three second half passes. Malik Knowles rushed for two touchdowns, including the games first score with 13:05 left in the first quarter. His second came with under two minutes remaining in the opening frame on a four-yard rush that extended the lead at the time to 23-7.

In the first quarter, the Wildcats scored 23 points. With the two Knowles touchdowns, they also scored on a Sammy Wheeler 42-yard pass play from Howard. Wheeler was wide open, as that broke the seven-all tie. Kansas tied the game in the first quarter on a Torry Locklin 12-yard run, and trailing 14-7, started their second drive at their own four yard line, and were called for a holding penalty in the end zone, resulting in a safety.

The Jayhawks had two rushing touchdowns in the second quarter, as Devin Neal scored from 11 yards and three yards. The last one pulled them to within 30-21, with under five minutes left before the break. K-State’s lone score in the quarter came on a Phillip Brooks 14-yard touchdown reception from Howard.

In the third quarter, the Cats extended their lead on a one-yard rush from Deuce Vaughn on fourth and goal to make it 37-21. 

Kansas scored to pull to within 10 early in the fourth quarter, after Jalon Daniels rushed from a yard out with 13:39 left. The two-point conversion failed that would have made it a one-score game. 

Kansas State closed the scoring with the games final 10 points, as Ty Zentner booted in a 27-yard field goal with 11 minutes left, and DJ Giddens closed the scoring with a five-yard touchdown run at the 4:30 mark of the fourth frame to make the final 47-27.

The Wildcats ended up with 443 yards of offense, with 230 on the ground, led by Deuce Vaughn’s 147 yards on 25 carries. Kansas had 307 yards with 180 on the ground, as Devin Neal had 59 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns. Both teams ran 63 plays.

The win was Kansas State’s 14th straight win over Kansas for the Governor’s cup.

Up next for 9-3 K-State is a second meeting with TCU at 11 am Saturday morning for the Big 12 Championship. The Horned Frogs are 12-0 and knocked off the Wildcats 38-28 in October. Kansas finishes 6-6, their best record since 2008, as they await their bowl fate. 

Coach Chris Kleiman

Quarterback Will Howard

Running Back Deuce Vaughn

Guard Hadley Panzer

Linebacker Austin Moore

Cornerback Julius Brents

Safety Drake Cheatum

Punter/Kicker Ty Zentner