Analysis: Wildcats’ lack of focus nearly cost them the game against South Dakota

Sophomore defensive back, Walter Neil Jr., celebrates with his teammates after defeating South Dakota in the K-State football game in Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Sep. 1, 2018. The Wildcats won with a final score of 27-24. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

In the first quarter in a game that most thought would be an easy win for the Kansas State football team against South Dakota, the Wildcats seemed unprepared and unfocused.

The offense appeared to give unsatisifactory protection for starting quarterback, Skylar Thompson, which came as a disappointment considering they had five returning linemen.

“Its tough game one to see so many mistakes and penalties,” senior offensive lineman Dalton Risner said. “Just because you prepared well does not mean that you are guaranteed a clean win.”

K-State’s third drive with the ball was the first real time the Wildcats looked like they had their heads in the game. The Wildcats started with the ball at their 27-yard line. After 10 plays and 54 rushing yards for Thompson, the Wildcats matched South Dakota with a field goal by sophomore kicker Blake Lynch, leveling the score 3-3.

“It helped a lot,” Lynch said. “I was a little bit nervous on that first one but after that I was good to go.”

While Thompson was by junior Alex Delton replaced after the third drive, he earned 54 rushing yards and 12 passing yards during his first series of drives as the starter.

The Wildcats ended the first quarter with two penalties, losing 15 yards.

Throughout the second quarter, the Wildcat offense did not score any touchdowns, leaving them with the option to only kick field goals.

The biggest game-changer during the second quarter for the Wildcats was Lynch. He scored three field goals in the second quarter to put the Wildcats ahead of the Coyotes for the first time with a score of 12-10.

However, the Coyotes scored a touchdown on their next drive, followed by an interception returned for a touchdown to make the score 24-12 at the half.

The Wildcats went into the half trailing and with another five penalties for a loss of 50 yards.

During the third quarter, the defense pulled the Wildcats together, showing that “improved togetherness” head coach Bill Snyder talked about at Tuesday’s press conference.

The team still continued to collect penalties, bringing in another two penalties for another twenty yards.

With no offensive improvements, Thompson re-entered the game for Delton.

“I played very average at this point, and I don’t feel very satisfied,” Delton said.

The fourth quarter was the turn-around point for the Wildcats. They scored their first touchdown less three minutes in, making the score 24-19, South Dakota.

That touchdown gave the Wildcats the momentum they needed to finish off the game while South Dakota lost momentum with two delay of game calls and a false start.

After K-State scored a go-ahead touchdown and two-point conversion, now up 27-24, it once again came down to the defense to hold the Coyotes from scoring. While the Coyotes came close— missing a field goal as time expired— the Wildcats pulled away with a win.

After the game, Snyder said, “I was pleased with how well we played defensively throughout the ballgame.”

I think it was a mutual feeling that the team had a lot to work on and that they will have to— as Thompson said— “get a lot better for Mississippi State next week.”

In the coming weeks, minimizing penalties will be huge considering that the Wildcats lost 129 yards on 13 penalties. Dalton Risner said it best. “We played as bad as we could so there is only room to grow.”

The Wildcats will face Mississippi State at home next week at 11 a.m.

Hi, I'm Molly Hackett and I graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in broadcast journalism in May 2020. When I worked for the Collegian, I had a variety of different jobs, including managing editor and sports editor. Additionally, I served a one year term on the Collegian Media Group Board of Directors. I also worked for KKSU-TV and appeared as an anchor on MHK All Day during my final semester at K-State. In my free time, I like to spend time with the people closest to me, travel, drink coffee and take naps.