A dominating win kicks-off a new era at Kansas State

Junior Walter Neil Jr. runs onto the field with teammates sophomore Nick Ast (right) and sophomore Chabastin Taylor to start the game at Bill Snyder Family Stadium against the Nicholls State Colonels. The Wildcats won 49-14. (Dalton Wainscott I Collegian Media Group)

The Chris Klieman coaching era at Kansas State has officially begun and brought fans plenty of hype for the 2019 season after a 49-14 victory over Nicholls State.

The Wildcats wasted no time in the first drive on the 2019 season, which ended in a nine-yard rushing touchdown by junior Harry Trotter. The drive displayed a strong showing of the new offensive framework and featured an aggressive passing attack with the same hard-nosed ground game.

The K-State offensive line opened plenty of holes for the entire game. Five Wildcats scored rushing touchdowns.

“We were going to be able to try to run the football, we had to run the football to set up all the other stuff and I was so pleased with our offensive line,” Klieman said, after the game. “Our offensive line really dominated the football game.”

The K-State defense kept the momentum with an interception by junior cornerback AJ Parker, which the K-State offense turned into points five plays later with a ten-yard run by junior quarterback Skylar Thompson.

Thompson took control of the game starting from the first drive.

Willie the Wildcat joins students in cheering on K-State's football team during their game against Nicholls in Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Aug. 31, 2019. The Wildcats beat the Colonels 49-14. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

“It was a great performance—he’s a stud, a winner,” Klieman said. “I was so pleased on how he commanded the offense, how poised he was.”

Nicholls could not get any offensive momentum gaining—only 17 yards in the first quarter compared to 128 yards by K-State. Junior linebacker Elijah Sullivan collected three tackles and one for a loss in the matchup.

“Defensively, we started off the first half, and they had under 50 yards rushing, had 70 passing, so I feel like we started off the game pretty well,” Sullivan said. “I know in the second half we let them score that first possession, so I feel like we need to keep it rolling when the second half comes.”

K-State took the momentum into the second quarter with another touchdown drive, giving the Wildcats a 21-point lead early in the quarter. The drive was capped off with a 14-yard rush by junior running back Jordon Brown.

The Wildcats held a commanding 28-0 lead at the half, gaining a total of 318 yards, 108 of which came through the air. Thompson went 8-12 in the first half completing passes to eight different receivers.

The K-State defense held the Colonels to 65 yards in the first half with an interception that set up an easy K-State score. Nicholls didn’t cross into K-State territory until late in the second quarter when the Colonels reached the K-State 47.

The Colonels opened the second half with a five-play, 75-yard drive that ended in a 26-yard touchdown run by senior running back Kendall Bussey.

“I thought they did a good job of jumping out on us in the second half,” Klieman said. “They took the momentum back from us and then our guys settled in and played a really good second half.”

K-State continued to drive the ball down after the Nicholls touchdown, but went for it on the fourth down after a touchdown pass by Dalton Schoen was called back.

After the Wildcat defense held the Colonels to a punt, the offense returned to the field and created a drive starting at the K-State third yardline, and worked it into a 38-yard touchdown pass to Schoen to complete a ten-play, 97-yard drive to put the Wildcats ahead 35-7.

The K-State defense got on the scoreboard with a 25-yard fumble recovery by junior safety Jonathan Alexander to put K-State up 42-7 with 14:36 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Senior Jordon Brown runs into the endzone during K-State's football game against Nicholls State in Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Aug. 31, 2019. The Wildcats beat the Colonels 49-14. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

Junior running back Tyler Burns made his return to the field after leaving the team earlier in his career. In his return, he ran for 64 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run to extend the K-State lead to 48-7. Sophomore Nick Ast and redshirt freshman John Holcombe II finished out the game as quarterback for the Wildcats

The Wildcats finished the game with 573 total yards, 361 of those yards coming on the ground, the most rushing yards in a season opener for K-State since 1981. K-State scored five rushing touchdowns, all from different rushers. Thompson went 16-22 with 212 passing yards.

“We’ve got a great group of running backs that have experience,” Thompson said after the game. “They’re not selfish. Whenever they get a chance to run the ball, their number is called, they run it. It’s a lot of fun to go play with those guys.”

Nicholls finished the game with 276 yards with starter senior quarterback Chase Fourcade completing 10 of 18 passes for 126 yards with one interception. The Colonel offense struggled all night.

“I was pleased overall, you give up 14 points, and the last seven, they did some good things against some of our younger players,” Klieman said. “I was pleased with the effort and the fact that there weren’t any mental mistakes.”

The K-State defense kept the Colonels to 18:51 of possession time.

In the process, Klieman recorded his first win at K-state as well as the Wildcats’ 200th win at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

K-State will be back in action on Saturday in a home matchup against Bowling Green at 11 a.m. on the Fox Sports Network.