For a team still trying to find its stride on offense, a visit from Texas Tech is a welcome occurrence.
Charles Jones and Kansas State refused to let the opportunity pass them by.
K-State defeated the high-flying Red Raiders, 44-38, at Bill Snyder Family Stadium Saturday evening to pick up its first league win of the season.
“We gave up a lot of yards, and they are so very good at moving the football,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said. “In the second half we did a better job at getting (Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes) to move around, and that created some opportunities for us to make some plays, which we did.”
Jones rushed for 128 yards and a touchdown for the Wildcats (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) who had to survive the lightning-quick attack of Mahomes.
In the early going, it was a struggle. Tech scored touchdowns on four of its first five possessions, but the one exception was massive. K-State cornerback D.J. Reed jumped in front of a screen pass and took it 35 yards for the Wildcats’ first pick-six since 2014.
“He broke on that ball like I’ve never seen him break on a ball before,” Snyder said.
K-State also reaped the benefits of a Byron Pringle 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first half. It was the 21st time since 1990 that the Wildcats have scored on defense and special teams in the same game.
K-State led 31-28 at halftime, and it appeared a race to 50 points was in progress. But both defenses, and more significantly the Wildcats’, showed up in the second half.
Jones gave his team the lead for good on a two-yard run with 14:07 to play in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, the critical third-down stops that eluded K-State in the first half were finally present down the stretch.
Wildcat quarterback Jesse Ertz finished the game a pedestrian 10 of 20 passing for 104 yards and a touchdown. But he added 83 yards rushing on ten carries, and did not commit a turnover. That’s nothing compared to Mahomes’ 502 passing yards, but it was enough.
Snyder said his team’s improvement this week was gradual, but not insignificant.
“We have to be able to put it all together,” he said. “All victories are team victories. We’ll go back to work and correct some things.”
Tech (3-2, 1-1) scored a late touchdown to climb within 44-38 after a controversial pass interference call, and recovered an onside kick with five seconds remaining. But Mahomes was crushed as he released his Hail Mary attempt, bringing the game to a fitting conclusion.
K-State hits the road next week to face Oklahoma. The Wildcats have won two straight meetings in Norman, but were shut out by the Sooners last season.