Don’t count them out: K-State defense chokes out Texas Tech in Senior Day game

Junior running back Alex Barnes pushes through a wall of Texas Tech Red Raiders at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Nov. 17, 2018. The K-State Wildcats defeated the Red Raiders 21-6. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

A cold Saturday marked Senior Day at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, as the Kansas State football team beat Texas Tech 21-6 behind a strong defensive effort.

Texas Tech came into Saturday’s matchup with one of the best offenses in the nation and the Big 12, ranked second in the conference in points and yards per game, and ninth and sixth in the country in those categories. Their passing offense, averaging 383.4 yards per game, was ranked first in the conference and second in the nation.

K-State’s defense had something to say about those numbers on Saturday.

In the first half, the Wildcats limited the Red Raiders to only 120 yards of offense. 93 of those yards came in the first quarter, as did the only six points Tech would score in the first half.

Although K-State only had 127 yards of its own in the first half, the offense capitalized off the defense’s effort to take a 10-6 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The lone Wildcat touchdown of the day came with 43 seconds remaining in the first half.

Sophomore quarterback Skylar Thompson scrambled to the right and, as he was being sacked, lofted the ball into the end zone where freshman wide receiver Malik Knowles came back to the ball and caught it for the score.

All game long, the Wildcat defense helped the offense. K-State put together drives but stalled out in the red zone.

The first example came on the opening drive of the second half. K-State started to gain some momentum as the offense made it to the Tech 11-yard line before being denied on a fourth down conversion.

The defense responded by forcing a three-and-out. The special teams contributed as well and came up with a huge play when sophomore Brock Monty blocked the punt. The ball flew out of the back of the end zone for a safety, putting K-State ahead 12-6 at the 9:13 mark in the third quarter.

On K-State’s next offensive possession, Thompson looked as good as he had all season at quarterback, slinging the ball around and driving the Wildcats down the field. That momentum was quickly squashed when a Tech defensive back intercepted a pass in the end zone.

The Wildcat defense held strong again, forcing a fumble and an interception on the Red Raiders’ next two offensive possessions. The K-State offense turned both turnovers into field goals, and with 10:23 remaining in the fourth quarter held an 18-6 lead.

The final 10 minutes of the game were almost as lifeless as the rest of the game. K-State and Tech traded punts before the Red Raiders fumbled the ball away at their own 16-yard line. K-State was still only able to get a field goal and extended its lead to 21-6 with 3:39 left in the game.

Tech turned the ball over on downs with 2:38 to go, and the Wildcats ran the clock out to clinch the win.

A defensive showing

K-State’s defense came to play on Saturday, stifling one of college football’s best offenses. The defense forced three turnovers, all in the second half. K-State got nine points off those turnovers, which combined with the blocked punt leading to a safety made a big difference in the game.

Defensive ends Reggie Walker and Wyatt Hubert each had two sacks each to count for the team total of four.

All in all, the Wildcats held the Red Raiders to just 181 total yards of offense, while K-State had 367 yards themselves. Tech completed just three out of 12 third downs.

Thompson finished the 17-for-26 for 213 yards and one touchdown. Junior running back Alex Barnes totaled 136 yards on 32 carries, while Knowles grabbed five passes for 56 yards and a score.

With the win on Saturday, K-State is now 5-6 on the season and 3-5 in Big 12 play. The Wildcats are one win closer to becoming eligible for a bowl game, and they will travel to Ames, Iowa, to take on rival Iowa State next Saturday.

I’m Jarrett Whitson, the sports editor this semester. I’m from Blue Rapids, KS, a town of just over 1,000 people about 40 miles north of Manhattan. I’m a junior in Public Relations, and a member of FarmHouse Fraternity. I love playing and talking about sports— especially college football