By Cole Manbeck
AMES, Iowa – For the eighth time in nine years, a Kansas State/Iowa State matchup was decided by 8 points or less. But the reality is this game probably shouldn’t have been this close, as K-State held on to defeat the Cyclones 31-26 at Jack Trice Stadium.
Iowa State scored on a 5-yard touchdown pass with 51 seconds remaining in the game to trim K-State’s lead to 31-26. The Cyclones, with no timeouts remaining, kicked an onside that the Cyclones kicker recovered. However, the officials ruled that he touched the ball just before it went 10 yards, making it an illegal touch and giving the ball to K-State, which took a knee twice to exhaust the clock. In all three of K-State’s Big 12 wins, the Wildcats have been forced to recover an onside kick in the final minute.
The Wildcats (5-3, 3-2 Big 12) controlled the majority of the game, leading 17-3 at half and eventually taking a 31-10 lead into the fourth quarter, but were outscored 16-0 in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats struggled on both sides of the football in the second half, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Iowa State gained 493 yards of offense, outgaining K-State by nearly 100 yards in the game. Iowa State averaged 6.6 yards per offensive play, the second-most by the Cyclones’ offense this season.
The Cyclones threw for 329 yards and went 24-of-43 passing, led by sophomore Jacob Park, who played the majority of the game and went 19-of-35 passing. Junior quarterback Joel Lanning, who actually started the game under center, was 4-of-7 passing for 28 yards but led the Cyclones with 74 yards rushing on 10 carries.
K-State dictated the pace of play the majority of the game, owning the time of possession in the first three quarters using a dominant rushing attack against an Iowa State defense that came into the game allowing 5.3 yards a rush. K-State averaged nearly 6 yards per carry in the game, accumulating 247 rushing yards on 43 carries. It marked the second straight game K-State has rushed for more than 230 yards.
Jesse Ertz was efficient in the passing game, completing 18-of-28 passing for 151 yards. Ertz is 38-of-55 passing for 322 yards over his past two games.
Ertz also led the team with 106 yards rushing on just nine carries Saturday. The junior quarterback has now rushed for 417 yards on 59 carries over his last six games, an average of 7.1 yards per carry. Ertz now has 477 yards rushing on 81 carries this season, an average of 5.9 yards per carry. No full-time starting quarterback in Bill Snyder’s 25 seasons at K-State has averaged more than 5.1 yards per carry in a season (Ell Roberson averaged 5.1 in 2002).
K-State outgained Iowa State 257 yards to just 133 in the first half, but the Wildcats’ defense gave up 360 yards in the final two quarters while K-State gained just 141 yards of offense.
K-State’s defense was fortunate to not give up more points. Iowa State dropped an easy touchdown pass in the first half. And in the fourth quarter, Park overthrew a wide-open receiver in the end zone on 4th-and-1 from the 1-yard line.
The Wildcats now return home next Saturday to face Oklahoma State (6-2, 4-1), which defeated 10th-ranked West Virginia in Stillwater, Okla., on Saturday.