When nothing was going right offensively, Kansas State had one constant — senior kicker Anthony Cantele.
With the numerous offensive drives stalling in the first half, it was Cantele who was counted on to get the job done Saturday in the Wildcats’ 51-9 victory over Missouri State at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
The senior kicker buried three field goals from distances of 23, 19 and 25 yards — giving K-State a 9-6 lead halftime.
“At first, starting out that way I was like, ‘oh no, not again’ — I don’t really like those close games,” Cantele said. “When I was the only one scoring, I guess (I felt) a little bit (of pressure), but I knew that Collin (Klein) and the offense would eventually show some life, and they did.”
With 9:26 left in the first quarter, Cantele was put up to his first challenge — a 23-yard field goal he made with ease, giving the Wildcats a 3-0 lead. He hit two more in the second quarter — a 19-yarder with 3:35 left in the first half and again with 18 seconds to go from 25 yards out, giving K-State its slim halftime lead.
“I’m really, really proud of Anthony,” K-State head coach Bill Snyder said. “A year ago he missed a field goal (against Eastern Kentucky), and in our practices on Thursday the first two kicks he took he missed both of them, and I thought, ‘that’s a bad omen.’ And yet he turns around and hits everything all the way through.”
His three field goals tonight moved him into ninth place in K-State history, giving him 21 for his career and passing Josh Cherry on the all-time list.
“I don’t really pay attention to the records, but it’s my senior year,” Cantele said. “I’m the most confident I’ve been going into a season, especially with a game like this, so it really helps and hopefully it keeps going like it’s going.”
Four years ago, though, Cantele was suiting up with Missouri State, but he was kicking a different ball on a much different field. Cantele played soccer at Missouri State his freshman year before transferring to play football for K-State in 2009.
“I get asked that a lot,” Cantele laughed when asked about playing soccer for Missouri State. “It doesn’t mean much to me because I played soccer there, but I was only there for a semester. Anybody that was on that team probably isn’t even on the team anymore, so to me it’s just another game. It didn’t really have any other importance.”