Kansas State overruns Louisiana-Lafayette

Led by Darren Sproles' team-record 292 rushing yards on 38 carries, the Wildcats (2-1) rebounded from last week's disappointing loss to Fresno State by beating the Ragin' Cajuns 40-20 Saturday in Manhattan.

Kansas State overruns Louisiana-Lafayette

Cats storm to a 40-20 victory with a strong running attack

By Herbie Teope

Date: Sep. 18, 2004

Led by Darren Sproles' team-record 292 rushing yards on 38 carries, the Wildcats (2-1) rebounded from last week's disappointing loss to Fresno State by beating the Ragin' Cajuns 40-20 Saturday in Manhattan.

The Ragin' Cajuns (1-2) had no answer for the Wildcats running attack Saturday. K-State ran 72 total offensive plays, with 62 of them coming on the ground en route to 393 rushing yards as the offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage. The Wildcats finished with 445 total yards of offense.

Sproles, who broke his own school record of 273 yards set last season against Missouri, had three runs of 30 or more yards leading to his career day. He added a season-high 35-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, but lost two fumbles.

Quarterback Dylan Meier, who left last Saturday's game with an injury, made his second career start and played an efficient game. He completed 7-of-10 passes for 52 yards and a seven-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brian Casey on a fourth-and-three play. Meier also rushed for 37 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries.

Backup running back Thomas Clayton contributed 58 yards on nine carries.

The Wildcats entered the fourth quarter leading 30-14, but the Ragin' Cajuns threatened to get back in the ballgame with 10:02 remaining in the fourth-quarter after scoring on a one-yard touchdown plunge by running back Chester Johnson to close the gap to 10 points. The touchdown was set up by an 80-yard run from quarterback Jerry Babb.

Unfortunately for the Ragin' Cajuns, the two-point conversion failed after a strong pass rush forced Babb to throw the ball sooner than he wanted. The Wildcats then took the ensuing kickoff and scored on Meier's second rushing touchdown from five yards out at the 6:28 mark to push the lead to 17 points. The scoring for K-State was capped off by kicker Joe Rheem's fourth field goal with 1:13 left in the game.

While the victory helped soften the blow from the sting of last Saturday's humbling defeat at home to Fresno State, head coach Bill Snyder pointed out that the win put the team back to the beginning with some issues still needing to be addressed.

"In most respects we probably got back to square one, and I think that was the important thing," Snyder said. "We had some of the same issues reappear and that shows you that number one, I'm not a genius, and number two, some things are going to take a little longer."

Of concern for the K-State coaching staff remains the defense, which still lacks a leader and again had problems tackling Saturday. While the unit forced three turnovers, they allowed the Ragin' Cajuns to amass 342 yards of total offense (214 rushing).

"We had some issues on defense in particular, and part of it went back to some of the same problems we had last week [against Fresno State] once again, in regards to our inability to tackle as we need to tackle," Snyder commented after the game.

"It was still an issue and we let them off the hook on more than one occasion when we had them pinned in their own territory."

The defense has problems, but Saturday belonged to Sproles, who bounced back after being held to 37 yards on 11 carries against Fresno State. Despite the two lost fumbles, Snyder was forgiving of his star running back.

"Darren ran well," said Snyder. "He put the ball on the ground a couple of times and that will make him feel badly about his ballgame. He's more concerned about that than the yards.

"That's part of playing the position as well, you need to be able to maintain possession and manage the ball well. Aside from those two snaps, he played very well."

Snyder prefers a balanced attack, and it's hard to imagine the Wildcats running the ball 62 times against only 10 passes the rest of the season. Moreover, the team should face opposing defenses down the road that will place eight men in the box to stop Sproles, thus, daring Meier to beat them.

The Wildcats have next week off before opening their Big 12 Conference season at Texas A&M on Oct. 2. They also have this time to fix the defensive woes and to balance the offense. Saturday's win against Louisiana-Lafayette should go a long way in giving the Wildcats momentum as they prepare to defend their 2003 Big 12 Championship.

How they scored

First Quarter

K-State – Set up by a 21-yard punt return into Louisiana-Lafayette territory at the 41-yard line, the Wildcats went 17 yards on six plays scoring on Joe Rheem's first of four field goals from 41 yards away.

K-State – The Wildcats capitalized on a 20-yard punt and began their drive from the Ragin' Cajuns' 45-yard line. They scored on the fourth play on Sproles' 35-yard run.

K-State – Rheem added his second field goal from 34 yards after the Wildcats used an 11-play, 67-yard drive to get into scoring position.

Second Quarter

Louisiana-Lafayette – The Ragin' Cajuns scored on the ensuing possession and marched down the field using a nine-play, 80-yard drive, which was capped off by 39-yard touchdown pass from Babb to wide receiver B.J. Crist.

K-State – The Wildcats capitalized on a fumble recovery at the Ragin' Cajuns' 44-yard line, and scored on Meier's seven-yard toss to Casey.

Third Quarter

K-State – The Wildcats took the opening possession of the second half and marched 80 yards on 12 plays, scoring on Meier's first rushing touchdown of the game. Sproles went over the 200-yard mark on 24 carries with a 16-yard run during the drive.

K-State – An interception by linebacker Marvin Simmons led to another Rheem field goal from 33 yards.

Louisiana-Lafayette – The Ragin' Cajuns scored off the ensuing kickoff on a nine-yard run by Babb after moving down the field 72 yards on seven plays.

Fourth Quarter

Louisiana-Lafayette – Babb put the team in scoring position after an 80-yard run to the K-State one-yard line. Thomas punched it in two plays later.

K-State – Meier scored his second rushing touchdown of the day with 6:28 remaining, and effectively put the game out of reach.

K-State – Rheem kicked his fourth field goal of the game with 1:13 remaining.

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