Backed by a dominant performance by Wildcat signal-caller Jake Waters, K-State rolled Stephen F. Austin, 55-16, in front of 52,830 faithful at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
Finding success both through the air and on the ground, Waters finished the day accounting for 278 of the Wildcats’ 478 total yards with four scores in a little over three quarters of play. He was an efficient 19-of-28 for 223 yards and two touchdowns, completing passes to eight different receivers on the night, and picked up another 55 yards and two scores via the ground game on a team-high 17 carries.
The 55 points were the most scored by the Wildcats in a home-opener since Sept. 22, 2001, when K-State rung up 64 points in a shutout over New Mexico State.
HOW IT HAPPENED | First Half
• After forcing the Lumberjacks to punt in the game’s opening drive, K-State promptly marched down the field to score their first of four TD’s in the first half. Keyed by DeMarcus Robinson, who accounted for 40 of the drive’s 69 yards, the Wildcats’ early 7-0 lead came via Waters connecting with Tyler Lockett for a 9-yard score.
• The Wildcat defense stifled the Lumberjacks’ offense early on, holding them to 21 yards on 12 plays in their first three drives.
• K-State extended its lead to 14-0 thanks to a Waters 5-yard run that capped off a 12-play, 60-yard drive in 6:40. The Wildcats would then make it three-straight scoring drives and 21-0 soon after a Lumberjacks’ three-and-out, as Charles Jones took it to the house from 15-yards out.
• Switching from Zach Conque to Joe Minden at quarterback revitalized a dormant Stephen F. Austin attack, as the Lumberjacks responded with a score of their own to make it 21-7. Minden’s scoring jaunt from 18 yards out capped off a drive that included three plays of 30 or more yards for the Lumberjacks, one called back for holding, and four offensive penalties.
• Scoring a TD for the fourth-consecutive drive, Waters picked up his second rushing touchdown with a one-yard goal line plunge. The 28-7 K-State lead would be cut down to 28-10 after the Lumberjacks picked up a 28-yard field goal in their final drive of the half.
HOW IT HAPPENED | Second Half
• Stephen F. Austin appeared to gain some momentum, forcing the Wildcats to their first three-and-out of the game to open the second half. That quickly disappeared thanks to a failed fourth-down conversion and lost fumble for the Lumberjacks in their first two second half drives.
• K-State would first capitalize after an errant fourth-down pass from Conque to Gus Johnson gave the Wildcats the ball on their own 41-yard line, as Waters picked up his fourth touchdown of the night. Connecting with wideout Kody Cook for a 22-yard score – the redshirt junior’s first career TD to go along with three receptions and 44 yards on the night – the Wildcats extended their lead to 35-10.
• The Wildcats would regain possession only a play later at the Lumberjacks’ 22-yard line, as Randall Evans forced a fumble for the first turnover of the game for either side. Jones took over from there, running the ball three-consecutive times to the tune of 22 yards and his second touchdown run of the night – this one from four yards out to make the score 42-10.
• Forcing a turnover of their own after Collin Garrett picked off a tipped Waters’ pass, Stephen F. Austin closed the gap to 42-16 as Johnson scampered in for a 30-yard score.
• The fourth quarter saw K-State sit its starters and close out the game scoring 13 unanswered points thanks to two Jack Cantele field goals and a Joe Hubener to Steven West 15-yard connection – first career visits to pay dirt for both Wildcats.
• Two key areas dominated by K-State helped sway the decision in its favor: possession and turnovers. The Wildcats held the ball for 37:45 minutes, while Stephen F. Austin had possession for only 22:15. In fact, K-State had four drives of 10 plays or greater, while the Lumberjacks had one. Penalties also played a major role, as SFA racked up 10-for-130 compared to the Wildcats’ 3-for-15.
• Helping that gaudy possession number was a stellar performance by the Wildcats on the ground. Along with Waters’ 55 on the ground, K-State got solid performances from both Jones and Robinson, who averaged 6.9 and 4.5 yards per carry, respectively. The 240 total yards on the ground for the ‘Cats were the most since they carded 291 against the Red Raiders on Nov. 9 of last year.
• “I don’t want to take away the positives and all of the good things the guys did. I would probably dwell on the things that weren’t so good. Overall, I thought we played reasonably well offensively…Defensively we have some work to do.” Head coach Bill Snyder on the season-opening effort.
• “It was awesome. I was so excited to see those guys get out there and play. They made some great plays tonight. Our running backs were running crazy and seeing the holes great. Then our receivers were stepping up their game, and we needed them too so that was a good sign,” Quarterback Jake Waters on the new additions to the offense.
The Wildcats will now shift their focus to the team’s first Big 12 Conference game of the season against Iowa State next Saturday in Ames, Iowa. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. CT. and can be seen on Fox Sports 1, as K-State will be looking to make it seven-straight against the Cyclones.