MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Chris Klieman gathered his players in the locker room after a heart-stopping win at Texas Tech and challenged not his seniors, who soon would be playing their final game for Kansas State, but the rest of the guys who would be around for years to come.
The first-year coach wanted his youngsters to lay it on the line for the veterans.
“Without question,” he said, “they played an excellent football game.”
Jacardia Wright ran for a touchdown, fellow freshman Joshua Youngblood returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for another score, and the Wildcats’ aggressive defense shut down Brock Purdy and high-flying Iowa State to win a 27-17 defensive slugfest on a cold, windy Saturday night.
The Wildcats (8-4, 5-4 Big 12) only managed 57 yards passing and 288 yards of total offense, but they scored the final 13 points while holding the Cyclones in check.
“At halftime I told the guys, ‘We just have to make some more plays. If we make some plays we’ll be fine,” Klieman said. “I could sense a lot of life on our sideline.”
There wasn’t a whole lot of life left in the Iowa State sideline by the final whistle.
Purdy was just 15 of 30 for 185 yards passing and a touchdown, and the Cyclones (7-5, 5-4) only had 236 yards in all. Their biggest problem came in converting third downs — they were 1 of 13 — and that in turn led to a massive advantage for Kansas State in time of possession.
The result: The Wildcats beat the Cyclones for the 11th time in 12 meetings in the game known as “Farmageddon.” They also have won seven straight in Manhattan against their fellow land-grant college.
“Give credit to Kansas State. On a night like tonight, I thought they were the more physical team,” Cyclones coach Matt Campbell said. “They did what they needed to do to win the game and we didn’t.”
It was Senior Day in Manhattan, but it was a freshman that provided the early fireworks.
Down 14-0, Iowa State finally gave Purdy time to answer, and the record-setting sophomore quarterback used it to pick apart Kansas State’s well-regarded secondary. Purdy threw a 15-yard strike to Sean Shaw Jr. for a touchdown, then connected with Tarique Milton for 60 yards to set up Breece Hall’s tying touchdown.
After trading field goals during an offensively inept third quarter, the Wildcats took advantage of good field position set up by their defense to pull ahead 24-17.
Both teams will await their bowl destinations next weekend.