A sparse crowd saw the Kansas State football team defeat the University of Kansas in Lawrence, 30-20, on Saturday at the 115th iteration of the Sunflower Showdown.
KU got the scoring started on a 28-yard kick by senior place kicker Gabriel Rui. That offensive push was set up by a fumble from K-State junior wide receiver Byron Pringle.
K-State junior defensive back D.J. Reed would take the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. The return marked the 13th straight season in which the Wildcats had a kickoff return touchdown, the longest active streak in the nation.
“I got an opportunity to touch the ball finally,” Reed said after the game. “I just hit a hole and it was history from there.”
Both teams had trouble pushing the ball into the end zone in the first half. K-State had two red zone turnovers and KU was forced to settle for a field goal on both trips.
KU’s sophomore quarterback Carter Stanley got a starting position over junior quarterback Peyton Bender, the team’s normal starter. For K-State, sophomore quarterback Alex Delton got another starting position, but was taken out of the game after an apparent injury and redshirt freshman quarterback Skylar Thompson took over. Delton did not return for the rest of the game.
“I was awful proud of him, considering he’s never set his foot on the field [in college],” K-State head coach Bill Snyder said in a post-game press conference.
In the third quarter, the Wildcats started to take a commanding lead when senior linebacker Jayd Kirby had a strip sack on the first play of the second half. Three plays later, sophomore running back Alex Barnes would score a touchdown on a three-yard run.
Reed broke up a pass on the goal line on a third down and then turned around and returned the punt 37 yards out to KU’s 47-yard line. K-State senior kicker Matthew McCrane kicked a 36-yard field goal on the ensuing offensive drive to make the score 20-6 at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was a back and forth affair. The teams traded touchdowns until McCrane iced the game with a 41-yard field goal. Reed intercepted a pass from the Jayhawks as time expired to seal a win for the Wildcats, 30-20.
Barnes finished the game with 128 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The offense as a whole gained 202 yards on the ground.
“They came out and popped us in the mouth, that program is on the rise,” Barnes said in the post-game press conference.
McCrane made all three attempted field goals this game, including a long kick of 41 yards.
For KU, Stanley threw for 418 yards and one touchdown. He also had 23 rushing yards on the ground. Sophomore running back Khalil Herbert led the KU offense with 33 rushing yards.