Wildcats hold on for Texas Bowl victory

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Junior quarterback Jesse Ertz holds the Robert C. McNair Trophy after K-State defeated Texas A&M in the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl in the NRG Stadium in Houston on Dec. 28, 2016. The Wildcats beat the Aggies 33-28. (George Walker | The Collegian)
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In the end it all came down to one play. Senior quarterback Trevor Knight and the Aggies needed eight yards on fourth down or their season would be over, and the Wildcats needed just one big stop and the Texas Bowl would be theirs. Knight dropped back to pass and Kansas State sent the corner blitz. Knight missed his receiver and a Wildcat celebration ensued.

A few rushes and a first down scramble from junior quarterback Jesse Ertz and the game was sealed as K-State held on to win the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl 33-28 in NRG Stadium in Houston Texas. Here’s how it happened.

Passing Offense

This was one of the best passing displays K-State has put on this season. Jesse Ertz was efficient, didn’t turn the ball over and made all the right throws. His beautiful pass to Byron Pringle in stride down the sideline led to a 79-yard touchdown; the second-longest pass play in K-State bowl history. The Wildcats were without redshirt freshman running back Alex Barnes, which made the Wildcats’ success in the passing game all the more important.

Rushing Offense

K-State wasn’t the dominating rushing team they were down the stretch of the season. The lack of Barnes really hurt, but they were able to run the ball when they needed to. Dominique Heath’s 52-yard touchdown put the Wildcats ahead 23-14, which was the score going into halftime. Ertz’s running on the Wildcats’ final drive was big time. Ertz was able to find a few holes and broke off a few long runs. This was the Wildcats’ seventh straight game with at least 200 yards rushing and Ertz eclipsed the 1,000 yard rushing mark on the season, the first player to do so since John Hubert in 2013.

Passing Defense

The Wildcats’ defense looked shaky to start the game as they allowed Texas A&M to drive down the field with ease and score a quick touchdown, but they seemed to improve as the game went on. Senior defensive end Jordan Willis and the rest of the defensive line forced Knight to make numerous errant throws. One thing the Wildcats had no answer for was senior wide receiver Josh Reynolds, who went up and made numerous plays on the Cats’ secondary, including two incredible touchdown catches.

Rushing Defense

Texas A&M never really got anything consistently going on the ground against the Wildcats. K-State was able to contain Knight and his ability to scramble and limited big plays. Linebackers junior Elijah Lee and senior Charmeachealle Moore were solid and made tackles all over the field.

Player of the Game

Jesse Ertz

Ertz played arguably his best game of the season tonight and was named the Texas Bowl MVP for his performance. He threw the ball well, he ran the ball well and he didn’t turn the ball over. Ertz took over on the Wildcats’ final touchdown drive that proved to give the Cats a big enough cushion to hold on for the victory.

Quote of the Game

“I think it’s the perfect ending for this team. With all we’ve been through with last season and starting off this season (and) the fight that this team had; it was the perfect way to end the season”

– Senior Safety Dante Barnett

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