As first impressions go, Chris Klieman and the Kansas State Wildcats couldn’t have made a better one.
The Wildcats controlled the game throughout with a punishing ground attack, Skylar Thompson threw for a touchdown and rushed for another, and the Klieman era opened with a 49-14 win over the Nicholls Colonels at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
The Wildcats scored on their first four possessions to take a 28-0 lead into the locker room and never looked back from there, outgaining the Colonels 573-276 and winning the time of possession battle 41:09-18:51. They were ruthlessly efficient on third down, converting 10-of-12, and had their way in the trenches all night, paving the way for a rushing effort that gained 361 yards on 6.2 yards per carry.
“We challenged the guys to really be on point and have a fast start,” said Klieman after the game. “We had to be able to run the ball. I’m so pleased with our offensive line. Our offensive line really dominated the football game. That’s what we’d like to be able to do.”
The opening drive was a 12-play, 72-yard march capped off by a nine-yard run by Harry Trotter. It was the senior from Atchison’s first touchdown in purple and gave the ‘Cats a 7-0 lead with 8:45 left in the first quarter. K-State regained possession quickly after AJ Parker intercepted a Chase Fourcade pass on the second offensive play on the night for Nicholls and returned it 20 yards to the Nicholls 28 yard line. Five plays later, Thompson rushed for a 17-yard score to double the Wildcat advantage.
“He’s a stud. He’s a winner,” said Klieman of Thompson. “I was so pleased with how he commanded the offense, and how poised he was. That kid’s got that ‘it’ factor.”
“The feeling walking off the field tonight was truly special,” Thompson said. “I felt like we were firing on all cylinders today.”
K-State’s third touchdown of the night came early in the second quarter on a 14-yard run from North Carolina transfer Jordon Brown. That rush capped off a 10-play, 71-yard drive in which each play was a run. The Wildcats extended their lead to 28-0 on their next drive when James Gilbert rushed 24 yards to paydirt, finishing a 10-play, 73-yard drive. K-State nearly made it five-for-five on first half scoring drives, but an apparent touchdown catch by Dalton Schoen was ruled incomplete on review and Blake Lynch missed the ensuing 37-yard field goal just before the end of the half.
Nicholls scored on their first drive of the second half, with Kendall Bussey’s 26-yard run pulling the Colonels within 28-7, but K-State would put the game away in the fourth quarter. First, Thompson found Dalton Schoen for a 38-yard score on the first play of the final frame to make it 35-7. On the ensuing Colonels drive, Jonathan Alexander celebrated his Wildcat debut with a strip, scoop and score from 25 yards. With the second team offense on the field, Tyler Burns punched in a one-yard touchdown with 6:41 to play to make it 49-7 K-State. Nicholls scored a consolation touchdown with three minutes left with reserves on the field for both teams to account for the final score.
“It was fun to play in,” Thompson said. “I had a lot of fun today.”
Head coach Chris Klieman