FORT WORTH — No. 8 TCU overcame a 28-10 first-half deficit to beat No. 17 Kansas State 38-28 on Saturday night at Amon G. Stadium in Fort Worth.
Kansas State (5-2, 3-1 Big 12) scored touchdowns on three consecutive possessions with backup quarterback Will Howard leading the offense in the first half. Running back Deuce Vaughn was able to add make the score 28-10 with his 47-yard touchdown run with 8:09 left in the second quarter.
The Horned Frogs, led by quarterback Max Duggan, scored 28 points unanswered, including touchdowns on three straight drives to take the lead away from the Wildcats with 3:45 left in the third quarter.
TCU went into halftime trailing 28-17, but they scored a touchdown in the final minute of the half and were able to score a touchdown on their opening drive of the second half, which helped the Horned Frogs build momentum. Their scoring drive coming out of halftime was a 13-play, 77-yard drive that took nearly 6:40 off the clock opening the third quarter.
Kansas State’s offense in the second half failed to produce a scoring drive. Kicker Chris Tennant missed a pair of field goals in the second half, but the Wildcats had two drives end in an interception. Kansas State ended one drive after failing to convert on a fourth-down attempt.
THE INJURY TENT FILLS UP
Kansas State faced a rash of injuries that tested their depth on Saturday night.
The Wildcats faced misfortune with the injuries starting when starting quarterback Adrian Martinez was removed from the game after the Wildcats’ first offensive drive of the game.
But further injuries limited many Wildcats throughout the night, including running back Deuce Vaughn on the offense. Vaughn was limited in the first half with what appeared to be a nagging injury, which could be connected to the injury that forced him to miss a lot of the fourth quarter against Iowa State before the open week. Tight end Ben Sinnott also left the game on Saturday night with an injury to his left arm.
On the defensive side, Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Josh Hayes, Julius Brents, Daniel Green were all limited at different times during the game on Saturday night. In the first half, Anudike-Uzomah was routinely subbed out on second down. Hayes, Brents and Green were all removed from the game at points, but only Green was removed for the rest of the game.
HOWARD HYPERIZES THE OFFENSE
Kansas State’s backup quarterback Will Howard was forced into action on the Wildcats second offensive possession after starting quarterback Adrian Martinez was forced out of the game with a lingering knee injury.
The K-State offense found the end zone on Howard’s first three drives, and the backup signal-caller was responsible for all three scores. Wildcat wide receiver Kade Warner fought off a TCU defender, to haul in the pass for a 28-yard touchdown in the front corner of the end zone.
On the second drive, Howard found the end zone on a one-yard quarterback sneak, but he found speedster Malik Knowles earlier on the drive to get Kansas State to the goal line.
The third drive ended with Howard finding tight end Sammy Wheeler for a nine-yard reception in the back of the end zone to put Kansas State ahead 21-10 with 10:44 left in the second quarter.
After the offense experienced a three-and-out on their next drive, preseason All-American running back Deuce Vaughn broke free for a 48-yard touchdown pass to put the Wildcats ahead 28-10. It was Vaughn’s first touchdown since the Wildcats beat Mizzou in Week 2 of the season 40-12 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
But Howard left the game in the third quarter with an injury, and the K-State offense stalled after his injury when third-string quarterback Jake Rubley was inserted into the lineup. Howard returned to the game in the fourth quarter when TCU was ahead 38-28.
EXPLOSIVE OFFENSIVE PLAYS
For the first time since Kansas State played Texas Tech, the Wildcat offense found explosive plays, which helped elevate the WIldcat offense into scoring opportunities. The Wildcat offense had seven total passing plays that went for at least 20 yards on Saturday night. In the rushing game, Kansas State had six runs go for at least 10 yards.
Of the Wildcats’ 13 total “big” plays, only three of them came in the second half. Howard completed a 22-yard pass to Phillip Brooks with 12:06 left in the fourth quarter. Running back Deuce Vaughn had an 18-yard run with 8:12 left in the third quarter and Kade Warner had an 11-yard run on a jet sweep early in the fourth quarter.
Next week Kansas State welcomes Oklahoma State (6-1, 3-1 Big 12) to Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Oklahoma State was able to come back from a two-score deficit to beat Texas on Saturday in Stillwater, Okla.