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September 15, 2013Historically speaking, Kansas State teams under Bill Snyder have made quick work of their final opponent before conference play opens. After a lackluster opening quarter Saturday night, Massachusetts became another victim of the trend.
John Hubert topped 100 yards rushing for the first time in 2013, Kip Daily returned one of his two interceptions for a touchdown and K-State scored the final 31 points of a 37-7 victory over the Minutemen.
"Anytime you can score on defense or special teams, it gives you the balance you need in your program," coach Bill Snyder said. "It's a great asset."
Daily made the first of several big plays for the Wildcats, intercepting UMass quarterback A.J. Doyel's first pass attempt of the game and returning it 38 yards for a score. It was the second straight game K-State recorded a pick-six.
"It was great play-calling by Coach," Daily said. "I bluffed a little bit and drove to the ball when it was thrown."
After the early score, however, K-State (2-1) played some of its most uninspired football of the young season. Massachusetts, ranked No. 119 nationally in total offense, moved the ball at will in the opening quarter, taking a 7-6 lead on a 2-yard run by Stacey Bedell with 6 seconds left in the frame.
UMass (0-3) accumulated 138 yards of offense to the Wildcats' 33. A blocked field goal by Travis Britz kept the Minutemen from taking an even larger advantage.
"They were running it down our throat, but when the time came to get a stop, we did," defensive end Ryan Mueller said. "I think it showed a lot of toughness on our part and it changed the game."
From the second quarter on, K-State looked like the dominant team most expected it to be from the opening kick.
With the help of a more effective running game, the Wildcats scored 21 points in the second quarter using both Jake Waters and Daniel Sams at quarterback.
Sams sparked the offense with a 75-yard drive early in the period, while Waters capped the half with a 43-yard TD pass to a wide-open Hubert with 11 seconds before intermission.
"Whoever Coach puts in, we just want to do what we need to do to be successful," Sams said. "It's not our job to think about who's best for what situation."
Snyder said his team's approach stayed the same as the results improved.
"The approach wasn't any different in terms of what we were trying to do defensively," he said. "It was the same stuff in the first half as it was in the second half."
K-State rushed for 206 yards in the first half after totaling just 190 in its first two games combined. For the game, Hubert finished with 120 yards on 18 carries.
"I would guess we probably blocked a little bit better," Snyder said. "I think you probably have to block well to make your run game go. We had a little more balance in it as well."
Waters connected on a second big pass play in the third quarter as fullback Glenn Gronkowski rumbled in from 50 yards out to give K-State a 34-7 advantage.
The Wildcat defense showed improvement throughout the night as well. K-State allowed just 171 yards after the first quarter, including just 59 on the ground.
"Anytime you can shut out a team for three quarters, it's awesome," Mueller said. "We just try to go out there and get three-and-outs. That's the goal every time."
Waters finished the night just 5 of 10 passing for 115 yards, two scores and an interception. He was more effective in the running game than in weeks past, totaling 76 yards on nine carries.
Sams added 79 yards rushing while completing both passes he attempted for 12 yards.
K-State concluded its nonconference schedule and will head to Texas next week in the league opener for both teams. The Wildcats have won five straight in the series.
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