Kansas State won the game, but you won’t find Kansas State coach Bill Snyder leading the celebration after this one.
Avoiding their first 0-2 start since 1989, the Wildcats eased to a 48-27 victory over Louisiana on Saturday night at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Though beating the Ragin’ Cajuns surely helped the Wildcats put last week’s loss to North Dakota State behind them, one thing is certain — K-State still has some work to do.
“I think there were some things that were on the field that would allow you to believe that we were better than last week, but consistency isn’t one of them,” Snyder said. “The game has to be played that way in the conference that we’re in. You can’t play a half, or a quarter or three quarters… We just don’t have the consistency right now and the ability to play a solid four quarters.”
Earning his second straight start, quarterback Jake Waters continued to put up solid passing yards, but turned the ball over twice on a pair of interceptions. The junior completed 22 of 31 passes for 278 yards — eight of which went to Tyler Lockett for 111 yards.
Perhaps muddying up the already dicey quarterback situation was Daniel Sams, who continued to show he belongs on the field with a team-best 63 rushing yards off the bench — averaging 7.9 yards per carry. The sophomore, who completed one pass for 27 yards, scored his second touchdown in as many weeks when he cut his way through the Ragin’ Cajuns’ defense for a 13-yard score in the second quarter.
Snyder said he wanted Sams to be more involved in the offense this week, but there really didn’t seem to be any pattern to the way he was used Saturday.
“I think there was a plan in place,” Snyder said of his two-quarterback system, “but its like everything else — you have plan and then all of a sudden the plan goes awry and you veer off of it. But it was reasonably close to what we wanted to do.”
Overall, Snyder’s assessment of the two QBs was simple and to the point.
“I liked it when we moved the ball, and wasn’t so happy when we didn’t,” he said. “That’s the truth, you know. They don’t move it, and I don’t like it.”
Behind Sams’ score, a 7-yard touchdown run by John Hubert and two field goals from Jack Cantele, K-State (1-1) had a comfortable 20-3 lead at the half. The Wildcats pushed that lead to 34-3 on just two plays from scrimmage to start the third quarter — thanks to Tramaine Thompson.
The senior receiver opened the third quarter with a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and then followed that with a 62-yard punt return to the Louisiana 2-yard line on the Wildcats’ next possession. That set up a 1-yard sneak by Waters with 10:15 to go in the third.
“I almost let (the kick) go — it was pretty close to the sideline, but I caught it and we had some great blocking up the field,” Thompson said of his long TD return. “Tyler got a great block to spring me too.”
Not to be outdone on special teams, Louisiana (0-2) answered with a school-record 100-yard kickoff return of its own when Darryl Surgent outran the Wildcats to the end zone to make it 34-10. It was the second long return K-State has allowed in the first two weeks and the start of a segment of the game in which Louisiana looked pretty good. The Ragin’ Cajuns, who had 370 total yards — outscored the Wildcats 24-7 from the 10-minute mark of the third quarter to final 8 minutes of the fourth.
“We did get some things going in the second half and some guys stepped up and made some plays,” Louisiana coach Mark Hudspeth said. “There were some other things that we have got to do a better job at executing. Defensively, I thought we played well enough for us to win.”
A big reason for Louisiana’s second-half surge has to be credited to the work it did on third down. The Cajuns were 0 for 6 on third down in the first half, but converted 7 of 10 in the second and got the Wildcats back on their heels.
“We got everything working in the second half,” Louisiana receiver Jamal Robinson said. “Everybody was getting their blocks and making plays. We just have to make it happen in the first half.”
Waters’ second turnover of the game also helped Louisiana’s cause, as Dominick Jones intercepted the pass and returned it 20 yards to the Wildcats’ 17-yard line. Louisiana was in the end zone three plays later on a 4-yard touchdown run by quarterback Terrance Broadway with 8:07 to go in the third.
K-State’s lone touchdown during that stretch was a 32-yard interception return by Ty Zimmerman to extend the Wildcats’ lead to 41-17. The Wildcats, who had 454 yards of total offense, put the game out of reach with Hubert’s second touchdown of the night — a 2-yard run with 8:01 remaining.
The Wildcats will close out the nonconference portion of their schedule this Saturday when they host Massachusetts at 6 p.m.