ANALYSIS: K-State rides special teams, defense to win over Iowa State

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Junior defensive back Jahron McPherson tackles an Iowa State player. The Wildcats beat the Cyclones 27-17 in Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Nov. 30. (Dalton Wainscott I Collegian Media Group)

Special teams and defense came through big in a vintage win on Senior Night Saturday night. The Wildcats took out Iowa State 27-17 during a windy, cold game to round out an eight-win regular season.

The game started off quickly for Kansas State when freshman receiver Joshua Youngblood took the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown.

“Phillip Brooks made two huge blocks, Landry [Weber] had a huge block,” Youngblood said. “I just had great blocking again. This special teams unit is crazy, our return unit is crazy.”

The touchdown was Youngblood’s third of the season, setting the record for the most kickoff return touchdowns in a season by a freshman. He mentioned that he had never returned kickoffs before coming to Manhattan and was not expecting to do so coming into the year.

Youngblood’s return had such an effect on the Iowa State kicking team that they only kicked to him one more time the rest of the game, opting instead to kick it short and force one of K-State’s blockers to fall on the ball.

“They gotta do what they gotta do, but if they kick it to [Brooks] he’s a dangerous return man, too. [Brooks] is going to break one soon,” Youngblood said.

Junior kicker Blake Lynch was also 2-2 on field goals, including a 43-yard kick into a strong wind late in the third quarter to tie the game up at 17.

“The first five yards of the kick are the most important part with the wind like that, especially with the cross wind. Then when it comes back down it likes to move a lot,” Lynch said. “Trying to get good ball contact is key.”

The other major key to K-State’s victory was third down conversions. K-State converted seven of 14 — Iowa State converted only one of 13.

“Defense was dynamite,” head coach Chris Klieman said.

K-State’s eight regular-season wins are the most in program history by a first year head coach. The Wildcats will have to wait one more week before they know where they will be heading for their bowl game.

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