MANHATTAN, Kan. (Release) - K-State (2-0) totaled 521 yards of offense, allowed less than 150 yards on defense and rolled to a 52-0 win against Bowling Green on Saturday.
Like last week, the Wildcats’ extreme command of the game could be seen early and all over the field, including the sideline. That’s where K-State’s defense spent more than 22 minutes in the first half and 42 minutes for the game.
“That would be the recipe for success,” K-State head coach Chris Klieman said of his team’s ball control. “If you want to look back at the path we’ve taken the last few years, that’s what we were able to do, not put yourselves in a situation where you’re playing 80 plays on defense.”
K-State’s defense barely played half that on Saturday, with Bowling Green only getting 44 plays of offense.
The Falcons also went 0-for-11 on third down conversions and 0-for-2 on fourth, but the tone was set early. In Bowling Green’s first four drives, the Wildcats forced three three-and-outs. They finished with eight such series en route to their first shutout since blanking South Dakota in 2015.
“A goose egg is always big,” senior defensive tackle Trey Dishon said, smiling.
K-State allowed only three first downs and 81 yards of offense in the first half, which ended with the Wildcats up 38-0 — their largest halftime lead since a 42-0 advantage over Florida Atlantic in 2016. Bowling Green finished with a meager 140 yards of total offense against K-State’s swarming defense — the first time the Wildcats have limited an opponent to less than 150 since 2011 against Eastern Kentucky.
“(Defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton) always says it’s a good thing when the defense is sitting down drinking Gatorade,” senior defensive end Reggie Walker said. “We always get everybody going with that three-and-out mentality, that dog mentality. Once it gets going, it’s going. Everybody’s out (trying to make the play), so then it’s just a race to the ball. When you have 11 people running to the ball like that, it’s a great sight.”
K-State’s offense returned the favor.
The Wildcats scored on their first seven drives in the game. After settling for a 24-yard field goal from Blake Lynch on the first drive of the game, the Wildcats finished their next six drives in the end zone.
K-State’s 333 rushing yards helped push the team over 500 yards of total offense. It marked the first time in program history that K-State eclipsed 500 yards of total offense in its first two games of the season and the first time since 2003 for any two-game stretch.
Explosive plays and players were a big part of this.
Jordon Brown broke off a 50-yard touchdown run in the first quarter for K-State’s first touchdown. James Gilbert, who recorded 103 yards for his second consecutive game over the century mark, picked up nearly half on a 51-yard scamper in the second quarter. Gilbert scored on the next play, his second touchdown of the day.
Quarterback Skylar Thompson continued to display his trust in redshirt freshman receiver Malik Knowles. Thompson, who finished 10-of-13 for 151 yards, targeted Knowles six times. They connected on five of them for 99 yards, including touchdown grabs of 34 and 20 yards.
“He was perfect,” Knowles said of Thompson.
K-State’s early and continuous success allowed several younger players on the field for the second week in a row. In total, 88 different Wildcats and 11 true freshmen saw game time.
Quarterbacks Nick Ast and John Holcombe II traded off series for most of the second half. Freshman running back Jacardia Wright led the team with 14 carries, all in the second half, while fellow freshman Joe Ervin carried the ball eight times and scored his first touchdown from 6 yards out in the third quarter. Seth Porter and Joshua Youngblood each recorded their first catches in a K-State uniform.
“It was a lot of fun to go in and get our work done and send in some young guys to get some experience,” Brown said. “We’ve seen them in practice make plays and we know they’re capable of doing it in games.”
K-State’s defense worked some inexperienced players in as much as it could in its limited amount of snaps. Freshman linebacker Khalid Duke was one who took advantage of his limited opportunity, recovering a fumble forced by Daniel Green in the third quarter.
“We wanted to see our young guys and how much they have developed through fall camp and the first two weeks of practice,” Gilbert said, as K-State travels to face Mississippi State next Saturday at 11 a.m. “Next week against Mississippi State, we feel like we want to test how good our football team really is. We’re looking forward to that.”