With three minutes still remaining in the first quarter Kansas State found itself in a quick 10-0 hole against visiting Iowa State, but the Wildcats were un-phased by the early deficit in what many termed a must-win contest. K-State (5-4, 2-3) scored the game's next 31 points and kept the ISU (3-6, 0-5) offense quiet to leave the Cyclones winless in Big 12 play while moving one step closer to bowl eligibility.
Wildcat kicker Jeff Snodgrass missed a 43-yard field goal attempt on the game's opening drive, and upon taking possession the Cyclones drove 74 yards on nine plays to take a 7-0 lead with just less than six minutes left in the first quarter. ISU had three plays of 14 or more yards in the drive to move deep into K-State territory before drawing first blood on a 6-yard Jason Scales touchdown run.
K-State went three-and-out on the ensuing drive and actually lost 8 yards, helping to allow the Cyclones to take over at the Wildcat 36-yard line after a personal foul on Justin McKinney on K-State's punt. The Wildcat defense kept ISU from getting a first down, but Bret Culbertson knocked in a 48-yard field goal to extend the ISU lead to 10-0 late in the first quarter.
The Wildcats scored their first points with 11:51 left to play in the first half on a 19-yard Snodgrass field goal to draw within 10-3. Big third-down completions from Josh Freeman to Jordy Nelson (34 yards) and Rashaad Norwood (10 yards) moved K-State deep into ISU territory. Once reaching the 10-yard line K-State ran James Johnson on three consecutive plays, including a rush on third-and-goal from the 3-yard line that gained just a single yard, before settling for Snodgrass' kick.
K-State received a huge break when Iowa State's Chris Singleton attempted to field a bouncing Tim Reyer punt only to boot the ball towards his own end zone. The Wildcats' Brandon Archer eventually recovered the loose ball on ISU's 15-yard line, and K-State took advantage, eventually scoring on a 2-yard toss from Freeman to John McCardle. Freeman's first career touchdown pass tied the game 10-10 with three-and-a-half minutes left in the opening half.
The Wildcats took their first lead with just less than a minute left to play in the third quarter on a 32-yard touchdown dash by Johnson to make it 17-10. Johnson's score, the second of his career, was set up by a 24-yard completion to Yamon Figurs on the previous play, which helped keep the scoring drive alive.
K-State later put the Cyclones away on another lengthy touchdown run, this one a 37-yarder from true freshman Leon Patton with just more than four minutes remaining to give the Wildcats a 24-10 edge. K-State's defense got into the act for the game's final points when Devin Anderson returned an interception 30 yards for a score exactly one minute after Patton's touchdown run.
Johnson led the way for the Wildcat offense, as he carried the ball 22 times for 115 yards, his second 100-yard effort in as many weeks. Freeman was solid, completing 14 of 20 throws for 161 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
The Wildcats, now just one win away from bowl eligibility, will look to earn their sixth win when they visit Colorado next week.