Sluggish battle ends in 10-9 victory over Iowa State

Looking for a gap in the play, then-junior Malik Knowles dodges ISU’s defense during the Iowa State game on October 16, 2021. (Archive photo by Macey Franko | Collegian Media Group)

After fighting through two offensive battles, the Kansas State football team took down Iowa State in a low-scoring fight. The Wildcats barely reached double digits in edging out the Cyclones 10-9.

Failing to score throughout most of the game was not a problem on K-State’s first drive. On a third-and-5 play, quarterback Adrian Martinez hit wide receiver Phillip Brooks for an 81-yard touchdown. The play seemed dead until Martinez avoided a sack and Brooks got open downfield with nearly nothing but open grass ahead of him. This would be the only touchdown of the night in the Farmageddon faceoff.

The Cyclones responded by kicking a field goal on each of their next two drives to put the score at 7-6 Wildcats. Kicker Jace Gilbert struggled in the week before against Kansas but found his footing throughout the night.

Failing to find their own footing on offense, K-State nearly pushed the lead forward on their corresponding drive. Once again, the play broke down and Martinez found wide receiver Malik Knowles with a large space of green in front of him. Catching a 67-yard pass, Knowles was just about to cross the goal line when Iowa State defensive back Anthony Johnson Jr. reached around and punched the ball out of Knowles’ hands at the 1-yard line. The Cyclones recovered the ball in their own endzone for a touchback and the score stayed the same at the half.

K-State started the second half with the ball but continued to struggle to score. That effort was not helped with a missed field goal from kicker Chris Tennant. While Tennant missed his first attempt of the night, Gilbert continued his bounce-back game, kicking a 43-yard field goal to take a 9-7 lead.

After each team punted the ball away, the Wildcats started their fourth drive of the half at their own 43-yard line. The drive consisted of Martinez and Knowles each throwing a pass to each other and brought K-State all the way to the Cyclones 12-yard line. Needing three points, Tennant wouldn’t fail on his second field goal. The Wildcats took the lead back at 10-9 with 8:20 left in the game. 

The Cyclones twice had chances to respond. On a fourth-and-7 with 2:36 remaining, Iowa State quarterback Hunter Dekkers threw a ball near the sidelines to star wide receiver Xaiver Hutchinson. Hutchinson was able to catch eight passes for 100 yards on the night, but was unable to bring in a potential game-saving catch. Receiving the ball back, the Wildcat offense ran the clock out and finished the game with the win.

The victory gives the Wildcats a 5-1 record and a perfect 3-0 record against Big 12 opponents. K-State has a bye next weekend but will be coming out of the rest to play the undefeated TCU Horned Frogs on Saturday, Oct. 22, in Fort Worth, Texas. TCU is coming off a nail-biting victory over the then-undefeated Kansas Jayhawks 38-31 but will be facing No. 7 Oklahoma State Cowboys before their battle with the Wildcats.