Defense dazzles as Wildcats rout Cyclones
MANHATTAN (AP) — Nobody was more disappointed than Bill Snyder that Kansas State finally gave up points in the closing minutes of a 41-7 rout of Iowa State on Saturday.
Then again, it was just about the only reason the longtime coach could be disappointed.
John Hubert ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns, and Daniel Sams and Jake Waters were efficient taking turns under center. The Wildcats' defense never allowed the Cyclones into the red zone until the final minutes, and even that was only after a fumble by their offense.
The result was Kansas State's sixth straight win over the Cyclones.
"Shutouts don't happen in college football anymore," Snyder said, "and our youngsters played well enough and coaches coached well enough that they deserved it.
"I'm probably more disappointed than they are," he said, "which is fine."
Indeed, Iowa State (1-7, 0-5) didn't score until the Wildcats' Robert Rose coughed up the ball at his own 10-yard line with just over 3 minutes left. DeVondrick Nealy took a toss-sweep for a score on the very next play, ruining the Wildcats' bid for their first shutout since September 2011 — and their first of a Big 12 foe since a 45-0 win over the Cyclones on Nov. 3, 2003.
"I mean, he demands perfection all the time," Kansas State defensive end Ryan Mueller said, "and we want to be perfect for him. The reality of the situation is they got points on the board."
Just barely, though, and not nearly enough.
Waters and Sams combined to throw for 221 yards, run for 89 yards and account for two touchdowns for the Wildcats (4-4, 2-3). Rose also had a touchdown run.
Grant Rohach threw for 88 yards for the Cyclones in place of Sam Richardson, who left midway through the second quarter. Richardson had been dealing with a lingering ankle injury, but coach Paul Rhoads — who's never beaten Kansas State — said it was a production-based decision.
"Still too many missed decisions and too many plays left out there," Rhoads said. "Not enough production and leadership of the offensive football team to get us in the end zone."
It didn't help the Cyclones' chances that they were missing several key players due to injuries. Top running back Aaron Wimberly, who has an ailing hamstring, did not play.
"Everyone is down and everybody is sad," Nealy said. "This was the start of five games we could have won, but we didn't come out successful."
After holding the Cyclones on fourth down to start the game, Waters led the Wildcats on a 79-yard march that ended with Hubert's 10-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead.
Jack Cantele kicked a 44-yard field goal a few minutes later to extend the advantage.
Meanwhile, the Cyclones couldn't get anything going on offense. They punted on three straight possessions, and then Richardson tossed an interception on the next series.
Rohach took over for him at quarterback in the second quarter and fared a bit better, but Cole Netten yanked a field goal attempt wide left to keep the score 10-0.
That's when Kansas State also went to the quarterback bullpen.
Sams entered and ran 34 yards on six carries, while also completing 2 of 3 passes for 22 yards — one of them a wobbler intended for Tyler Lockett that Tramaine Thompson actually caught.
Sams finished the drive with a 1-yard run for a 17-0 lead just before halftime.
"I told him, 'Hey, give us that spark. Get us going again,"' Waters said. "That's the ideal with me and him. If something's not working, put the other guy in to give us a spark."
Cantele added another field goal early in the second half, and Hubert finished off an 83-yard drive with a 3-yard run early in the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 27-0.
The two biggest highlights of the game came when it had already been decided.
After the Cyclones were held on fourth down, Sams threw a 28-yard rainbow that Thompson hauled in over a defender — despite pass interference — while landing on his back in the end zone.
Rohach was picked off by the Wildcats' Dorrian Roberts on the ensuing possession, and Rose scampered nine yards into the end zone for a touchdown and a 41-0 lead.
The only drama left was whether the Wildcats would finish off the shutout. Rose's fumble and Nealy's touchdown run finally gave the Cyclones something to feel good about.
"We're getting better at the right things," Snyder said, "and those things tend to give you an opportunity to play better. I think we played better."