Oklahoma State has been an important opponent in the young career of Kansas State’s do-everything wide receiver Tyler Lockett.
Lockett, like he did a year ago against Oklahoma State, saved another big night for the Cowboys Saturday in the Wildcats’ 44-30 victory at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
Lockett totaled 202 all-purpose yards, including a 100-yard kickoff return with 7:35 to go in the second quarter that gave K-State a 24-10 lead. It was Lockett’s second return for a touchdown this season and the fourth of his young career, putting him tied for second in Big 12 history.
The Tulsa, Okla., native also caught five passes for 75 yards, including a 50-yard catch in the middle of the field that set up a 1-yard touchdown run by John Hubert for the Wildcats’ first score.
It was a night very similar to Lockett’s breakout performance against the Cowboys a year ago in Stillwater.
In another matchup between K-State and Oklahoma State on primetime television, the freshman was electric. He totaled 315 all-purpose yards, which still ranks as the fifth-best single-game total in school history. Lockett returned six kickoffs for 193 yards—-including one for 80 yards — and caught three passes for 32 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed three times for 84 yards.
But then it was over.
Lockett lacerated his kidney going for a catch late in the game. The Wildcats lost on the final series and Lockett wasn’t seen on the field again the rest of the season.
But Lockett came back healthy this season and seemingly picked up where he left off, especially against the Cowboys — in another primetime opportunity and a perfect season on the line for the Wildcats (9-0, 6-0 Big 12).
“It was pretty sweet,” Lockett said, reflecting on his touchdown return Saturday night. “I think it was a real big thing in the game… it got us going. Unfortunately (the Cowboys) answered back with (a kickoff return of their own), but we had to respond to adversity.
“We were able to get us good field position most of the time.”
K-State coach Bill Snyder was obviously pleased with Lockett’s big return, as well as a 60-yard return by Tramaine Thompson in the second half.
“We had a few returns that were very, very positive,” Snyder said. “Certainly, (Lockett) and Tramaine are both quality return men, but it takes 10 other guys to do it. The other 10 did a nice job. We had good protection on our returns, when we had the chance to return them.”
Snyder continued, and said the threat Lockett and Thompson provided against Oklahoma State also proved to be important as the game went on, especially after the Cowboys were able to immediately answer Lockett’s return with an 80-yard touchdown return by Desmond Roland.
“We got a lot of positive things out of (the return game),” Snyder said. “It scared us when we got one returned against us, so you look at the things that you do and what they did. That gave us some additional field position that really doesn’t show up. We were getting the ball around the 40-yard line with those short squib kicks, so it had a lasting impact, I think, on that facet of the kicking game and field position.”
While special teams were shaky in some aspects of the game, they proved to be key for K-State, especially late in the game when quarterback Colin Klein was sidelined with an undisclosed injury after a 1-yard touchdown dive with 9:47 left in the third quarter.
K-State kicker Anthony Cantele, who struggled with two kickoffs out of bounds and a missed chip-shot late in the fourth quarter, did connect on attempts of 37 yards and 40 yards to add cushion to the Wildcats’ lead at the end of the game. One kick was set up Thompson’s long return.
Despite some special teams miscues and not having Klein most of the second half, Lockett said K-State was able to show toughness.
“It’s not over until there are zeros on the clock,” Lockett said. “It shows who we are and how we need to be able to fight back at all times… respond to adversity like we’ve been able to do week in and week out. It shows we’re a team that’s not going to quit. Even if things don’t go our way, we’re going to keep fighting until the end.”