Wildcats knock out UMass 38-7

Behind quarterback Jeff Schwinn, K-State rallied from an early 7-0 deficit to beat UMass Saturday at KSU Stadium

His passes weren't sharp. His scrambling wasn't pretty. Jeff Schwinn was not Ell Roberson.

He was, however, effective at times in leading No. 7 K-State (4-0) past Massachusetts (1-1) Saturday afternoon 38-7.

Schwinn completed 17-of 26 passes for 228 yards and one touchdown in leading the Wildcats to 38 unanswered points after UMass scored the game's opening touchdown.

He also threw two interceptions, although one of them was a completion to James Terry that was jarred loose and caught by a UMass linebacker.

Still, Snyder said Schwinn has room to grow.

"He had a little rocky start with the interceptions and threw a few that shouldn't have been thrown," Snyder said, "but outside of that, I thought he did fine."

Schwinn was picked off on his second throw of the game, a slant route to Terry that was thrown well behind his intended target. Two series later, Schwinn tossed the second interception which Terry had in his hands before he was hit.

The former walk-on didn't back down, though, leading K-State 74 yards in 11 plays on their next drive to score their first touchdown of the game, a seven-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brian Casey.

"I felt real comfortable after I got a couple of snaps in," Schwinn said. "The first thing any player wants is to get hit. After that I just got into the flow of the game."

After those first two interceptions, Schwinn completed 16-of-21 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown. He also ran seven times for 18 yards, but struggled with the option.

"He needs to get better at it," Snyder said of the staple to the Wildcat offensive system. "He wasn't quite prepared for it."

Having a Heisman-hopeful running back certainly put Schwinn at ease, however, and Darren Sproles was up to the challenge of carrying the Wildcat offense.

Sproles carried 28 times for 152 yards and scored three touchdowns. His 42-yard carry early in the second quarter gave him 100 yards on just 15 attempts.

"Darren is Darren," Snyder said. "Sooner or later he's going to make some things happen, no matter what."

Having a plethora of receivers stepping into the spotlight also eased the burden on Schwinn. Terry caught a career-high eight passes for 120 yards, including several grabs where he simply out-jumped the UMass defenders. True freshman-sensation Jermaine Moriera also caught a career-high five passes, gaining 76 yards. He also dazzeled on punt return teams, dancing and shaking his way to 46 yards on four tries.

Early in the game, however, the story was the UMass offense. Arizona State transfer Jeff Krohn was 2-for-2 for 72 yards on the game's opening drive, including a 65-yard touchdown strike to receiver Jason Peebler. K-State corner Louis Lavender was frozen on the play-action pass, and Lavender played sparingly the remainder of the game.

"We knew we were going to have to make two or three throws like that," UMass Coach Mark Whipple said. "You aren't just going to run the ball and we weren't going to just put it on Baylark. It was a huge play and it got us going."

But it didn't last long. Corner Cedrick Williams replaced Lavender and the defense had new life. They shut out the Minutemen the remainder of the game, and allowed just 119 yards of offense the rest of the way. Krohn was held to 12-of-24 for 92 yards after the opening series.

"Their defense was fast, and we expected that," Krohn said. "We knew coming what we were dealing with. We knew they were going to be fast and we came out and tried to knock them out early. They rebounded and played a great game."

Linebacker Josh Buhl led the corps with 12 tackles and a sack, while fellow linebackers Bryan Hickman and Matt Butler finished second and third on the team in tackles. The linebacking trio combined for 28 tackles and two sacks.

"There was a little trash-talking going on, but he's a good player," UMass running back Steve Baylark said of Buhl. "He's everywhere on the field. You need guys out there that will make plays."

To hear it from Snyder, however, the Wildcats have a long road ahead.

"I don't think we're where we want to be," he said. "I don't think we're where I expected us to be."

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