MANHATTAN, Kan. – Skylar Thompson rolled left and saw primary target Byron Pringle covered, then avoided a defender and rolled back to the right before connecting with Isaiah Zuber in the back of the end-zone with no time remaining to will K-State past Iowa State, 20-19, in walk-off fashion at Bill Snyder Family Stadium Saturday.
Thompson’s connection to Zuber capped a 10-play, 87-yard drive over the final 1:55 as the Wildcats rallied from two scores down, wrapped around a crucial defensive stop, to give the Wildcats their seventh win of the season, and their 10th consecutive victory over the Cyclones.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Iowa State got the scoring started by using a methodical 15-play, 56-yard drive that resulted in a Garrett Owens 36-yard field goal on their opening drive. The Cyclones converted on a fourth-and-one near midfield to continue the drive before the K-State defense forced the drive to stall.
On the following K-State defensive possession, the Wildcats were able to force a Cyclone punt, as junior punt returner Dominique Heath fielded the punt and evaded several Iowa State defenders to return the punt for 43-yards. The return set up the Wildcats at the Iowa State 31-yard line, leading to the first touchdown of the game.
With the ball in Cyclone territory, the Wildcats put together an 8-play, 31-yard drive that resulted in a three-yard touchdown carry by Thompson, the third rushing touchdown of his career to bring the score to 7-3.
Just before halftime the Cyclones answered with another field goal from 22-yards, on a nine-play, 55-yard drive that was propelled by a 32-yard completion to Allen Lazard to bring the ball into the red-zone. With their backs against the wall, the Wildcats held the Cyclones within the 10-yard line to force the field goal.
The Wildcats held a lead going into halftime, holding the Cyclones to 191 yards on offense and only 41 yards on the ground. Offensively, K-State rushed for 41 yards of their own, led by sophomore running back Alex Barnes who rushed for 23 yards on seven attempts. The Wildcats went into the break with a 7-6 advantage.
In the third quarter Iowa State took over the lead on their first offensive possession, on a 9-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kyle Kempt to Marchie Murdock. The Cyclones went for the two-point conversion and came up unsuccessful to bring the score to 12-7, Iowa State.
On the following K-State possession, the Wildcats got their longest play from scrimmage on a 29-yard run from junior running back Justin Silmon. The rush helped set up the Wildcats in Iowa State territory, though the drive would later stall on a failed conversion on 4th-and-2.
Into the fourth quarter, Iowa State marched down the field on a 10-play, 62-yard scoring drive that was finished off with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Hakeem Butler, marking Kempt’s second touchdown pass in the game, expanding Iowa State’s lead to 19-7.
Trailing in the fourth, the Wildcats brought out the trickery to cut into the Cyclones lead, by running numerous plays from the Wildcat formation, including 23 rushing yards from junior running back Dalvin Warmack. With 6:07 on the clock and within the 5-yard line, K-State called on Barnes to receive a pitch out of the backfield and throw the ball over the offensive line to junior fullback Winston Dimel, who was wide open in the back of the end-zone to bring the score to 19-14.
Following a defensive stop, K-State take over possession at their own 13-yard line, trailing by 5-points and 1:55 left on the clock. With the clock against them, the Wildcats completed two passes to junior wide receiver Zach Reuter and a 17-yard pass to Zuber to move the ball into scoring position. With eight seconds left on the clock, Thompson rolled out of the pocket and found Zuber in the back of the end zone to give K-State the walk-off victory, 20-19.
The Wildcats accounted for 264 yards of total offense, including 155 through the air. Throughout the span of the game neither team committed a turnover.
OFFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Thompson connected with Zuber on a one-yard pass for the decisive game winner with time expiring in the fourth quarter to give the Wildcats the victory. Thompson completed 15-of-21 passing for 152 yards and a touchdown, while Zuber grabbed seven receptions for a total of 56 yards in the game.
Entering Saturday’s contest with 999 career rushing yards, Silmon surpassed the 1,000 yard-mark on a 2-yard rush in the second quarter. Silmon carried a total of five times for 32 yards in the game, to up his career-yardage to 1,031.
The trio of Silmon, Barnes and Warmack rushed for a total of 97 yards in the game, and a late touchdown pass from Barnes to Dimel, the first touchdown pass by a non-quarterback since fullback Glenn Gronkowski threw for a touchdown against Iowa State on November 21, 2015.
DEFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Senior linebacker Jayd Kirby started the defensive pressure for the Wildcats, bringing down Iowa State quarterback Kyle Kempt in the second quarter for a loss of 8 yards. Only two plays later, sophomore defensive tackle Joe Davies disrupted the Cyclones’ passing attack by bringing Kempt down for another sack, this time a loss of 6 yards.
The senior duo of Kirby and linebacker Trent Tanking partnered for a total of 14 tackles in the game to help lead the K-State defense. Sophomore defensive back Denzel Gooslby led the team in tackles with eight in the game.
SPECIAL TEAMS STARS OF THE GAME
In the first quarter, Heath was able to propel the Wildcats to their first score of the game, as he returned a season-long 43-yard punt return to the Iowa State 31-yard line. The return by Heath was a season-long and set up the Wildcats with good field possession that led to a 3-yard touchdown run by Thompson.
On the punt team, senior Cre Moore recorded a return-stopping tackle, stuffing Iowa State return-man Trever Ryen for -2 yards on the return. Redshirt freshman Tyler Burns also came up with a stop on special teams coverage, bringing down Ryen for a loss of 7 yards on a return in the third quarter. Senior punter Nick Walsh had a busy senior day, punting four times for 193 yards and a long of 52 yards.
STATS OF THE GAME
9/25/2010 – The Wildcats walk-off win marks the first game-winning touchdown with less than a minute on the clock since Carson Coffman had a 7-yard touchdown rush against UCF on September 25, 2010.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
K-State Head Coach Bill Snyder
On the last play…
“That’s one of the things we spent some time on this week. Defensively they play a scheme. They weren’t in it on the goal line down there but normally they play a scheme that covers well. Rush three, drop eight; (it’s) hard to find open areas. The pass rush is less, so the quarterback has a little bit more time and people have to find open areas to go. But that’s what Isaiah did. It wasn’t what we had been working on out on the field, but it helps us down there. He kept it alive, and Thompson kept it alive, and Isaiah and the rest of the receivers – (Zuber) wasn’t the only one that continued to work. We just don’t sit down and let yourself be covered. They continued to work the in-line so we were fortunate.”
On being surprised of Skylar Thompson’s poise in the fourth quarter…
“Not really. I won’t say surprised, but I was concerned that might be difficult because Skylar hardly practiced this week. He didn’t practice Monday, didn’t practice Tuesday, threw a little bit on Wednesday, and got a full practice in on Thursday. So he had about one-and-a-half practices. I was a little bit more worried about him making the decisions he needed to make in the heat of the valley.”
On play calling in the last 10 seconds of the game…
“If the pass that we threw was incomplete, then he would’ve downed the next throw to give us a little bit of time. Not if it was incomplete, excuse me, if the clock was still running. So, if we ran a play and didn’t get a touchdown, and it was still running, then we would down it on the next one and it all rest on that last play.”
On level of fight of the team…
“I don’t think giving up is in their vocabulary. I think they always fight. There was some enthusiasm and excitement for them because they were successful early in the drive. They converted a third down, got some plays, saw that they were really moving the ball, and really got into it.”
On missing three key players in the secondary on defense…
“I was very proud of them. One of our nemeses was third downs. They converted a substantial amount of third downs on us, but I was pleased with the two youngsters that filled in: Eli Walker and Johnathan Durham. They tested Durham. When they saw that DJ (Reed) wasn’t going, they went after him early and I really thought he held his own. He gave up a couple of plays but throughout the entirety of the game I thought he did awfully well.”
K-State Redshirt Freshman Quarterback Skylar Thompson
On the final play…
“I do not remember much to be honest, because it happened so quick. It was an incredible moment. I had a good idea of what coverage they were running. Pre-snap I was determined to go to Isaiah Zuber and they kind of jammed him up, so I came off it and scrambled, just trying to keep the play alive. I was literally just thinking about tucking and running it. As soon as I do that I see number seven wide open and gave him a ball to catch.”
On ever experiencing this type of ending before…
“I had a moment like that in the Texas Tech game and I had a couple games in high school that came down to the wire. I have never experienced throwing a touchdown with no time on the clock in my entire life. I was not afraid of the moment and was ready to attack it our guys were as well. Our offensive line gave me plenty of time and our receivers made plays. That is what it is all about. I am so proud of our team.”
On the difficulties offensively in the first three quarters…
“We just had a tough time getting stuff going for whatever reason. We will look at the film and kind of see what we need to get better at. What I am so proud of this team for, though, is that we stuck with it. Things were not clicking and we had about 100 yards of total offense going into the fourth quarter. We stuck with it and kept grinding. The opportunity presents itself and we were ready to go. I am just so proud of our guys because we worked so hard and put so much time into the preparation of this game. It is so nice to have something go our way and see all the hard work pay off. My teammates, our coaches and this football fan base deserve it because they stuck with us through everything.”
K-State Sophomore Wide Receiver Isaiah Zuber
On the final play…
“I always knew that we were going to get into the end zone because Skylar [Thompson] is a great quarterback. Skylar is going to keep the play alive and he is going to win no matter what. He is a winner.”
On the success of their final drive…
“We just wanted it more. That is all I can say. We just knew that we had to get this drive and win the ball game. The defense got a big stop for us. We all talked right before we got onto the field that we were going to make a play.”
On his thought process while catching the winning touchdown…
“Look it in and do not do anything else. Just look the ball in no matter what and no matter who is behind you or next to you.”
Iowa State Head Coach Matt Campbell
“I will give credit to Kansas State. Their kids kept playing in the football game and I thought our kids did too. But it comes down to detail and unfortunately when we had the opportunity to pull away, we did not do it. And we need to give their kids credit, they did a great job.”
“They said in their conversation that it was not conclusive. It is hard to tell. I said this after our game against Oklahoma State, officiating is hard. It is a tough business, a tough profession. My biggest issue is on the second to last play of the game, the right guard moved and they did not call it and you get an issue with inconsistency. But they did the best job they could just like our kids did.”
On throwing on the last possession…
“We still had enough time on the clock. We had what we wanted toward winning the game, but unfortunately we did not get that. We just need more discipline with detail. Hindsight is 20/20, but it is what it is.”
“Coach Hancock has done a great job and the kids have played great football all year long. A lot of it has to do with our personnel and how they have helped us. We have grown a lot on the defensive line, which is a great help and gives our guys opportunities to be successful. It is a growth process. If you look at our history, we have been a great football team. Today we had a lot of time with possession of the ball and did great things with it. It is about playing team football. We played a lot of team football, but put ourselves in a lot of tough situations with pivotal mistakes which cost us the game.”
SEASON RECORD UPDATE
K-State 7-5 (5-4 Big 12)
Iowa State 7-5 (5-4 Big 12)
K-State will learn of its bowl designation and opponent next Sunday, December 3.
Associate Director for Athletics Communications | K-State Athletics