K-State scored on four of its first five possessions of the second half, including three touchdowns, but it was the Wildcats’ last drive, a scoreless series, that sealed a 30-27 win at Texas Tech on Saturday night.
After a Texas Tech touchdown cut K-State’s lead to three, the Wildcats (7-4, 4-4) ate up the final 3:58 of the game to end a two-game losing skid and win their third road game this season.
“A great performance by our team. What great resolve,” K-State head coach Chris Klieman said. “There was great belief from the start of the game all the way through the end that we were going to find a way to win the football game. It wasn’t pretty but our guys play so hard and they just never feel they’re out of it.”
Skylar Thompson, who threw for 248 yards on the night, used his legs to put the game away. Facing a third-and-11 to start K-State’s last drive, Thompson took off on a designed draw for 17 yards.
“That’s what I worked for my entire life, for opportunities like that in crunch time, my number getting called, getting the ball in my hands and making a play for my team,” Thompson said. “Today was an all-around team effort. I’m so proud of this team. We all played together. We all played our part. We all did what we needed to do to get a win.”
Two plays after Thompson’s big run, running back James Gilbert played his biggest part when he broke a tackle and cut across the field for an 18-yard gain to put K-State in the victory formation.
“How about that? A great job by James. I’m happy for him with all the stuff he’s gone through with injuries,” Klieman said of Gilbert, who led K-State with 61 rushing yards on 12 carries. “He was tackled there, and he bounces out and moves the chains again.
“When they kicked it to us with four minutes left, they have two timeouts and, if they get a stop, they’re going to be going for a field goal with a great kicker to try to tie or try to win the game. We put it on the big boys up front and said, ‘We have to be able to get a couple first downs and end this.”
K-State came out of halftime with a 6-3 lead, an advantage that held after both offenses heated up.
Both teams traded a pair of touchdowns to start the second half, followed by alternating field goals. Thompson, facing a third-and-6 on K-State’s first drive out of halftime, connected with Phillip Brooks on a crossing route for a 14-yard touchdown. Later, Thompson hit Chabastin Taylor for a 48-yard score to go up 30-20.
“We just made really good halftime adjustments,” Thompson said of the second half. “Our coaches told us to keep trusting the game plan and things would start popping for us. They did. That was huge.”
In between Thompson’s touchdown passes, Joshua Youngblood notched the team’s other score with a 100-yard kickoff return. It marked the true freshman’s second such score this season and boosted K-State’s lead to 20-10.
Senior safety Denzel Goolsby picked off a Jett Duffey pass in the end zone on Texas Tech’s ensuing drive, K-State’s second consecutive stop at the time and its second interception of the game. Da’Quan Patton snagged the other in the first half, which led to one of Blake Lynch’s two 32-yard field goals.
“We’re getting better,” Klieman said, as K-State will return home to close the regular season against Iowa State on Saturday, November 30 at 6 p.m., on FS1. “I’m so pleased with the fight and the resolve of our guys. This was a big win. You lose two in a row twice now and your backs are against the wall and people think, ‘Boy, maybe you were fortunate to win a game here and there,’ and our guys are blocking out the noise and just playing good football.”