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November 2, 2013

Wildcats run away from Cyclones

It had been awhile since Kansas State outplayed a Big 12 opponent from the opening kick to the final whistle. Most blowout victories in recent years can be attributed to a dominant second half by the Wildcats. Against Iowa State on Saturday, however, the floodgates opened early and remained that way for the majority of the contest.

Led by a consistent rushing attack and stellar defense, K-State beat the Cyclones 41-7 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

"We have made strides in a lot of different ways and we're getting better at the right things," Coach Bill Snyder said. "We played better. We played better because we prepared better."

The Wildcats' two-quarterback system of Jake Waters and Daniel Sams looked much improved for a second straight week as they combined to complete 13 of 20 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown.

"We've gotten better every week and we're making small improvements," Waters said. " We're putting some pieces together and that's giving us confidence."

The Wildcat defense, once thought as one of K-State's weaknesses, continued to show improvement, dictating the rhythm of the Iowa State offense from the opening kick.

"The defense played well collectively throughout the course of the ballgame," Snyder said. "Iowa State has had some difficulty personnel-wise. They're kind of a dismembered football team right now. But that doesn't take away how well we played defensively at all."

K-State (4-4, 2-3 Big 12) held ISU to just 249 total yards while the quarterback combination of Sam Richardson and Grant Rohach completed just 17 of 36 passes for 126 yards.

Most importantly, the Cyclones' longest play went for just 16 yards. Eliminating big plays has been a major emphasis for the K-State defense.

"The credit goes to our coaches for that," said defensive end Ryan Mueller, who recorded seven tackles and a sack. "They demand perfection from us. Each starter and second-string guy likes that pressure of trying to be perfect. We have to carry it over to next week."

John Hubert provided K-State with a touchdown on the Wildcats' opening drive with a 9-yard run. He finished with 105 yards on the day.

"We got a big game from John and he was able to break a big run for us," receiver Tramaine Thompson said. "For him to spark the offense like that was big for our momentum."

The Wildcats stalled offensively in the second quarter before Sams engineered a 12-play, 71-yard touchdown drive with less than a minute remaining until halftime. K-State led 17-0 at the break and never let Iowa State deep in its territory until well after the game's outcome was clear.

Iowa State (1-7, 0-5) scored its only points on a late touchdown after a K-State fumble on its own 10-yard-line. Snyder said he was disappointed to see the shutout disappear. It would have been the first Big 12 shutout for K-State in ten years.

"I was immensely disappointed," he said. "Shutouts don't happen in college football anymore. Our youngsters played well enough and our coaches coached well enough to deserve the goose egg."

Mueller said preserving the shutout was a priority, but so was getting younger, inexperienced players in the game.

"That's definitely the goal in every game," he said. "It was on my mind. But we got some younger guys on the field who work just as hard as we do during the week, and I'm glad."

The Wildcat receiving corps, led by Thompson and Tyler Lockett, took over the game in the second half. Each made incredible catches to extend drives that led to touchdowns, regardless of which quarterback was throwing the ball.

"You have to respect those guys downfield," Sams said. "If it's one-on-one, they're going to get open."

Lockett had 72 yards receiving on five catches and Thompson added 71 and a touchdown on three catches.

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