The Kansas State Wildcats opened their season on the right foot, beating the Stanford Cardinal 24-7 in Arlington, Texas.
K-State, led by senior quarterback Skylar Thompson, finished with 344 total yards on offense while holding Stanford to just 233 total yards on the game.
Thompson, who finished the game with 144 passing yards and an interception, also finished with 54 rushing yards and two scores on the ground.
“My ultimate goal is to play at the next level, but that’s not why I came back,” Thompson said in a post-game interview with K-State Athletics. “I came back because I still feel like my best football here at K-State lies ahead.”
Thompson wasn’t the only part of the offensive production. Sophomore running back Deuce Vaughn finished the game with 124 rushing yards and one touchdown, adding 12 receiving yards to his stat line.
Vaughn’s longest run of the game came on a 59-yard touchdown run, breaking loose on a third-down play in the second quarter. Including games this past season, this is now the third-straight game Vaughn has put up at least 100 rushing yards.
All-American punt returner Phillip Brooks led the team in receiving yards, hauling in three catches for 81 yards in the game — his longest being a 56-yard catch-and-run setting up the Wildcats inside the Stanford 10-yard-line for a K-State touchdown the very next play.
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Defensively, the Wildcats were led by linebackers Daniel Green and Cody Fletcher in the tackle department, hoisting 17 total tackles between the two of them. Fletcher also came away with a sack during the contest.
The defensive line stayed even more productive as Khalid Duke finished with four tackles and a sack. Defensive tackles Jaylen Pickle and Eli Huggins both came away with sacks of their own.
The secondary shined for the Wildcats, coming down with two interceptions, first from Russ Yeast, a transfer from Louisville, and the second from TJ Smith, who ran his interception back 35 yards into Stanford territory.
Defensive backs Reggie Stubblefield, Julius Brents and Cincere Mason also made their presence felt, making impactful plays during the game as well.
Defensively, the Wildcats held the Stanford offense to only 39 rushing yards — 25 of those yards coming from star running back Austin Jones on nine carries.
“I was so proud of how we played,” head coach Chris Klieman said to K-State Athletics. “It wasn’t perfect. We have to continue to improve. We made some first-game mistakes. Had some penalties and stuff. But overall, I was just so happy to see how hard the guys played. You kind of take that for granted, that guys play hard, but today they played extremely hard and made plays when it mattered. So it was a great team win.”
K-State continues the season next week with the Southern Illinois Salukis at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, the first home game of the season for the Wildcats.
The game is scheduled to kick off at 6 p.m. and will be broadcasted on ESPN+ and the K-State Sports Network, with radio coverage provided by K-State’s student radio station Wildcat 91.9 KSDB Manhattan.