Head coaches Chip Kelly of Oregon and K-State’s Bill Snyder both stressed the importance of special teams and discipline in the days leading up to the Fiesta Bowl. It took exactly 12 seconds for their words to ring true Thursday night.
Oregon sophomore speedster running back De’Anthony “Black Mamba” Thomas took the opening kickoff back 94 yards, finding a seam near the numbers and then blowing by K-State coverage for the touchdown. Oregon converted a two point conversion to make it 8-0.
Both Thomas and K-State senior and Oregon transfer senior wide receiver Chris Harper were big at the wide receiver spot. Thomas got his second score on a 23-yard jailbreak screen to give the Ducks a 15-0 lead with 3:46 remaining in the opening quarter.
Harper caught six passes for 55 yards for the Wildcats, who battled back from the early 15-point deficit to pull to within five midway through the second quarter.
First, Klein scrambled for a seven yard touchdown and then K-State kicker Anthony Cantele made a 25-yard field goal to make the score 15-10 Oregon.
K-State had an opportunity to take the lead late in the half, but a false start by KSU lineman Cornelius Lucas, on a play that the Wildcats were merely trying to draw Oregon off-sides, forced K-State’s kicker to try his next field goal from 40 rather than 35 yards.
He missed, and Oregon took less than a minute to score on a 24-yard pass from freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota to senior running back Kenjon Barner to give the Ducks a 22-10 lead.