Nelson, a 6-2 junior from Riley, Kan., did not play the entire second half last week against Florida Atlantic due to an undisclosed leg injury, but his injury didn't seem to bother him as he helped lead the undefeated Wildcats (3-0) to a 23-7 victory over the Marshall Thundering Herd (1-2) Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
"It's a big win for us. It's always good to be able to come away with a win," Nelson said. "It felt great being able to come back from the injury and I feel like I went out and played well."
Nelson tied for the team lead in receptions with five and was second in receiving yards with 71. Tight end Rashaad Norwood also recorded five receptions and receiver Jermaine Moreira led the team in yards with 95. Moreira recorded most of those yards on a 44-yard touchdown reception with 4:15 left in the fourth quarter, which put the Wildcats ahead by the final score of 23-7.
K-State blocked a punt on Marshall's opening drive, and got the ball on the Thundering Herd's 28-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Meier threw a strike to Nelson who was running a post pattern, and he caught the ball and got all the way to the three-yard line before being tackled by a defender. The reception by Nelson set up a Thomas Clayton touchdown run on the very next play, which gave the Wildcats an early 7-0 lead.
"Nelson is the pride of Riley County," coach Ron Prince said after the game. "I took him aside after the game and told him how proud I was of his play. He is a pro in how he goes about his business. He doesn't care about himself: he only cares about the team and how well the team is playing. Personal statistics mean nothing to him and I appreciate how he goes out and performs week in and week out."
Nelson had a couple of chances to score in the game, but was never able to get into the endzone. The opening drive was his first chance, and he had another opportunity to score when the Wildcats had the ball on Marshall's 31-yard line with about a minute to go in the third quarter. Nelson faked a post and ran a corner route, and both the corner and safety bit on the fake, leaving him wide open on the left side of the field. Meier had good protection and was able to get the ball off to Nelson, but he overthrew him badly, which could have been because he was throwing with the wind.
The pass would have scored a touchdown because the only thing between Nelson and the endzone was field turf.
There wasn't a defender within 10 yards of Nelson, but K-State had to settle for a 48-yard field goal by kicker Jeff Snodgrass.
Meier went 19-for-35 with one touchdown and one interception in the game, and most of those incompletions were thrown in the direction of Nelson. Meier threw a total of 11 passes to Nelson, but the quarterback from Pittsburg, Kans., was having problems all day figuring out the wind. It was blowing hard from south to north, and Meier was continuously overthrowing his receivers.
"There were so many throws that I didn't make that I know I should have made," Meier said. "On the other side, I feel like I distributed the ball well today. My job is to get the ball to the receivers and they are the guys who go out there and make the plays, and they did that today."