Collin Klein wanted to win the game at the end. The Kansas State quarterback heaved a pass to the far corner of the end zone in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter trying to do just that, but the throw was picked off by Weston Hiebert.
The result was a 42-42 tie to end the annual Purple/White Game. But despite what the scoreboard read, the Purple team actually had its way with the White on Saturday in front of more than 18,000 in attendance at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
That interception was just about the only bad pass Klein threw all day, and the senior-to-be threw a lot of passes. Klein, who called the plays for the Purple, was 47-of-56 for 475 yards and six touchdowns, leading the Purple to what was really a 77-7 whipping of the White — had it not been for coach Bill Snyder’s traditional halftime scoreboard flip.
“I thought we did a pretty good job,” said Klein, who also rushed five times for 49 yards. “All facets contributed today. Up front, they did a wonderful job of protecting all day, the running backs ran extremely hard and the receivers ran good routes. We were able to be pretty efficient and that takes everybody.”
Behind Klein’s high-octane passing day, the Purple racked up 738 total yards, scoring touchdowns on all five first-half possessions for a 35-0 halftime score.
The Purple team never looked back. Despite a pair of punts to open the third quarter, the Purple cruised the rest of the way, scoring touchdowns on six straight possessions in the second half before the late interception.
Senior receiver Chris Harper said the offense’s dominance showed what this team could be capable of in the fall when Saturday games actually count.
“We’ve been getting better since last season,” said Harper, who had 13 receptions for 67 yards and two touchdowns. “Everybody who was out there played last season, so we knew what we wanted to do. We were still pretty basic, but it was just a glimpse of what we can do.
“All us guys, we’ve been there about three years, so we’re really comfortable in the system.”
Klein, who completed 30 of his first 34 pass attempts, used all of his weapons on an offense that returns eight starters for next season. He found receivers across the middle, in the slot, down the sidelines, deep in the middle of the field, and dropped off passes to running backs out of the backfield with ease.
Though Harper led the Wildcats in receptions, Tramaine Thompson and Curry Sexton also shined on Saturday. Sexton hauled in eight catches for 153 yards and two TDs, while Thompson had nine catches for 147 yards and another score.
Klein, who was never sacked, also connected with senior tight end Travis Tannahill five times for 42 yards. Running back Robert Rose also snagged five catches for 19 yards, while fullback Braden Wilson caught two passes for 23 yards and a score.
“Distributing the ball and finding more balance has been a goal of ours,” Klein said. “We want to be the best we can possibly be in all facets, but we know there’s more out there.”
Klein was so efficient that he even completed a pass to himself on a strange play in the first half when he caught a deflected pass and ran for a 1-yard gain.
“I thought about throwing it again… and like I said, it’s about being diverse and getting the ball into as many people’s hands as you can,” he quipped.
But when Klein wasn’t gunning it downfield, a trio of running backs was pacing the Wildcats on the ground, averaging more than 7 yards per carry. Including Rose, John Hubert and Angelo Pease combined for 207 rushing yards on 28 carries, with all three scoring a touchdown. Pease had 89 yards on 12 carries, while Rose toted the ball 10 times for 84 yards. Hubert, who started the game, rushed six times for 34 yards.
The lone score for the White squad came in the fourth quarter when DeMarcus Robinson returned a kickoff 95 yards down the far sideline.
Five different quarterbacks played for the White, including redshirt-freshman Daniel Sams and true freshman Tay Bender, who started the game. Bender was 2-of-4 for 8 yards, while Sams was 1-for-1 for 13 yards. Robinson led the White with 13 rushing yards on seven carries, while freshman Glenn Gronkowski made his debut with three carries for 6 yards.