Kansas gives up line-of-scrimmage, Dillons Sunflower Showdown to K-State, 34-19
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas’ offense came on strong in the second half with 16 points, but the tune of 342 yards rushing and four scores on the ground by K-State swayed the 2016 edition of the Dillons Sunflower Showdown in favor of the Wildcats, 34-19, Saturday afternoon inside Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
The Jayhawks (2-10, 1-8 Big 12) averaged a mere 3.3 yards-per-play in the first 30 minutes of play and were only able to muster three points and 127 yards compared to K-State’s (7-4, 5-3 Big 12) 20 points and 7.3 yard-per-play output. In the second portion of play, Kansas out gained the Wildcats 276-222, highlighted by 213 passing yards from redshirt freshman quarterback Carter Stanley.
Stanley ended the day with a personal-best 302 yards and two touchdowns, completing 24 of his 44-total passes to 10 different receivers. Junior wide receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez and sophomore wide receiver Steven Sims Jr., tied for the team-lead with five receptions each, while Gonzalez tallied a game-high 127 yards – 95 of which came on one play. LaQuvionte Gonzalez
K-State’s ground attack was bolstered by three Wildcats who ground out more than 50 yards on 12 carries. Alex Barnes totaled 103 yards and a score, Jesse Ertz tallied 99 yards on 12 attempts and Alex Delton posted 53 on 12 rushes. Overall, the Wildcats recorded 5.9 yards-per-rush on 58 carries.
While trying to shut down the Wildcats run game throughout the game, senior safety Fish Smithson led the Jayhawks in tackles for the final time in his career with 11, while sophomore defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr., gathered 3.0 tackles in the K-State backfield.
Following opening-drive scores by both teams, the first quarter became a defensive stalwart resulting in punts on the next two drives, 6-3.
The Jayhawks cashed in a field goal from 34 yards away on their opening drive, the first time KU registered points on its first possession in 2016. Timely play calls by head coach David Beaty and clean execution in crucial spots of second-and-20 and third-and-10 maintained the drive for the score.
Stanley connected with sophomore wide receiver Tyler Patrick over the middle to pick up 30 yards on second-and-22 at the KU 15-yard line after a chop block penalty. Later, on his own 45, Beaty avoided the K-State blitz by dialing up a shovel pass to senior running back Ke’aun Kinner, who scampered 17 yards to K-State’s 38-yard line. Stanley took off through the middle of the line for 13 yards before the drive stalled and senior kicker Matthew Wyman made the 34-yard field goal.
The Wildcats answered KU’s field goal with a touchdown drive of their own on only six plays, covering 70 yards. A series of quick gash runs by Ertz and Charles Jones were capped by a 1-yard rush over right tackle by Winston Dimel, 6-3, in favor of K-State. Sophomore defensive tackle Daniel Wise blocked the PAT and the Jayhawks trailed by three with 7:24 to play in the first quarter.
Ertz began K-State’s third possession with a rush over left tackle to the K-State 29 as the first quarter came to an end. The Wildcats began the second quarter with two plays covering more than 30 yards. Ertz ran around the left edge for a gain of 34 and then Barnes dove into the end zone on a carry of 31 yards over right tackle, 13-3, with 13:52 to play in the opening half.
K-State’s defense put the Wildcats up by 17 points with 13:12 remaining in the first half. On the second play of KU’s chance to answer K-State’s touchdown drive Donnie Starks, jumped a route near the Jayhawk sideline at the KU 39-yard line and took the pass the distance, 20-3.
After the interception the defense began to stiffen and didn’t allow K-State to effectively move the ball on the ground the way it had previously. Led by two tackles in the backfield by Armstrong a 36-yard field goal attempt by the Wildcats hit the left upright after Stanley had his second pass picked off due to a tip at the line-of-scrimmage. The Dillons Sunflower Showdown went to the half, 20-3, in favor of K-State.
Kansas got the Wildcats to a third-and-9 on the second half opening drive until Hubener completed a pass to Jones for 22 yards downed near midfield. That would become the crucial play in the Jayhawk defense allowing an 11-play, 75-yard march down the field to score from seven yards out, 27-3, with 9:47 to go in the third quarter.
Needing to move the ball out of its own end zone trailing, 27-3, with 4:32 to play in the third quarter, Stanley and Gonzalez etched their names in the Kansas record book. Gonzalez streaked down the seam as Stanley planted in the end zone to find his target and six points 95 yards later as Kansas got on the board, 27-9, with the third-longest pass from scrimmage in KU history.
K-State put another rushing touchdown on the board as the Jayhawks gained some momentum back after the 95-yard pass. The Wildcats ground their way 75 yards on only eight plays – seven rushes – as Dimel ran in his second score from a yard away, 34-9, with 14:56 to play in the game.
KU’s passing game began to gel as Stanley eclipsed his previous career-best by finding Sims down the sideline for a gain of 32 to the K-State 47-yard line. Stanley then scrambled and under pressure hit senior full back Michael Zunica for 17 yards. The duo connected again on the next play with a four-yard touchdown to Zunica – the first of his career – to end the 10-play, 75-yard possession with a touchdown to inch closer, 34-16, with 11:29 to go.
Wyman dribbled a perfect onside kick and the Jayhawks quickly regained possession looking to strike again at the KU 44-yard line, trailing by 18 points. The Wildcats were able to put pressure on Stanley from the defensive front and forced a turnover on downs near midfield.
Kansas refused to go quietly, driving 69 yards in 2:31 to put a 44-yard field goal on the board, 34-19, with 6:30 remaining. On the first play from scrimmage after the kickoff Dalvin Warmack took a handoff through the middle of the line for 36 yards to KU’s 37-yard line. The gain into Kansas territory all but dashed any hopes of a comeback as the Jayhawks fell in their season finale 34-19.
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