Wildcats Lock Down Horned Frogs in Win

 Kansas State scored on four of its first five possessions and held TCU without a first-half touchdown, and sophomore defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah tied a school record with four sacks as the Wildcats won their homecoming game 31-12 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

“We are getting better after going through a little bit of a rut (at the start of the Big 12 season),” K-State head coach Chris Klieman said. “Guys are excited and celebrating a big homecoming victory. It was fun to win at home in front of a great crowd. The crowd was fabulous as usual. We’re going to enjoy it today and go back to work on Monday.”

One week after Anudike-Uzomah tackled Texas Tech running back SaRodorick Thompson for a safety, the 6-foot-3, 255-pound native of Kansas City, Missouri, tied K-State’s record of four sacks, set by Chris Johnson against Missouri in 2000. Anudike-Uzomah now has 10 sacks, which rank among the most in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

“I was just counting every sack I got,” Anudike-Uzomah said. “I’m blessed.”

It was originally believed that Anudike-Uzomah tied the FBS record with 6 sacks. However, two of his sacks were nullified by NCAA rules, as on each play he forced a fumble that was recovered beyond the original line of scrimmage, thus making each play result in a rush.

Still, in one of the more impressive individual performances by a K-State defensive player in a game, Anudike-Uzomah made a statement and the Wildcats, 5-3 overall and 2-3 in the Big 12 Conference, stomped the Horned Frogs, 3-5 and 1-4. It marked the Wildcats’ third straight win in the series and their most complete game of the season.

The Wildcats must now beat Kansas next Saturday in Lawrence to gain bowl eligibility for a second time in three seasons under Klieman. K-State has won a series-record 12 straight against the Jayhawks.

“This was a big win for us,” quarterback Skylar Thompson said. “We dominated the game in all three phases and that was big for us. It’s the closest we’ve come to a complete football game. To have a win in that fashion is big time for us moving into a big rivalry week.”

Thompson completed 13 of 21 passes for 242 yards and 1 touchdown and 1 interception to go along with 5 carries for 18 yards and one score while pass catchers took turns gashing a TCU defense that has struggled this season. Thompson moved into second place all-time with 6,335 passing yards – he is tied for third with 37 passing touchdowns – and is tied for third among quarterbacks with 26 rushing touchdowns.

The final dagger arrived when Thompson threw a pop pass to tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe and the 6-foot-4, 240-pound senior transfer rumbled 73 yards down the middle of the field for a touchdown on the longest play from scrimmage for the Wildcats this season with 14:49 remaining in the fourth quarter.

K-State led 28-5 and the rout was on. Chris Tennant ended the scoring with a 42-yard field goal.

“We were super-efficient whether we were running the ball or throwing the ball,” said running back Deuce Vaughn, who had 20 carries for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns — his fourth 100-yard rushing performance this season — to go along with 2 catches for 49 yards. “We played a really, really good four quarters of football. There are probably some things we can work on going into KU week, but I’m really proud of how we fought and played together.”

Vaughn caught a 41-yard pass to set up Thompson on a 4-yard run for the opening score, then he raced 42 yards for a touchdown and a 14-3 lead. Phillip Brooks caught a 37-yard pass to set up another score as the Wildcats built a 21-5 advantage going into the half.

“We thought we had a play dialed up with (Vaughn) down the seam out of the backfield on that first drive to get us a big play to get us down to the four when Skylar scored the next play,” Klieman said. “He still gains those tough yards against a really good defense. The play to get us to 14-3 was huge for us.”

Vaughn, just the third player in school history to reach 2,000 career all-purpose yards, took to the air for the Wildcats’ final score of the half. Brooks was ruled down at 1 yard line following his long catch. On the next play, Vaughn took the handoff and leaped over TCU linebackers Jamoi Hodge and Dee Winters before flipping over in the end zone, prompting roars from the crowd.

“That’s the first time I ever jumped over a pile like that,” Vaughn said. “It all kind of formed, and I jumped, and before I knew it, I was on a wave of guys, and they flipped me.”

TCU scored its only points in the first half on a 24-yard field goal off a Thompson interception, and then it scored a safety when it tackled Vaughn before he could get out of the end zone after the Wildcats stopped the Horned Frogs short inside the 2 on fourth down. It marked the first time TCU had failed to score inside the red zone this season. K-State twice held TCU scoreless inside the 20-yard line.

“The critical plays that we hadn’t made on defense we were making tonight, whether it was a couple of fourth down stops or the field goal,” Klieman said. “The fourth-down stops were critical.”

K-State outgained TCU 388-340 in total yards. The Wildcats defense proved effective limiting a TCU offense that ranked 27th in total yards (450.4) and rushing yards 21st (216.3). TCU finished with 156 rushing yards.

“Going into conference we kind of laid an egg,” defensive back/linebacker Reggie Stubblefield said. “We know we still haven’t scratched our best effort. Today, we just had it on our mind to go out there and show the Big 12 that we’re still that defense that we’ve talked about.”

Some additional excitement was generated by an unfortunate sequence midway through the third quarter, when TCU’s Josh Foster delivered a hard hit to Thompson as he stepped out of bounds along the TCU sideline following a short run. Players from both teams converged and had to be separated. Two TCU players and K-State wide receiver Tyrone Howell were ejected during the melee.

“I didn’t see it anything because it was away from us,” Klieman said. “I don’t know what happened to Tyrone. I know he got kicked out. He’ll learn from that. I don’t know what happened, but you hate to see that stuff, obviously.”

Meanhile, the Wildcats effectively knocked out the Horned Frogs in historic fashion.

After facing Kansas, the Wildcats host West Virginia, and No. 16 Baylor before closing the regular season at Texas on November 26.

Since starting the Big 12 season at 0-3 against No. 15 Oklahoma State, No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 22 Iowa State, the Wildcats have won two in a row with a previous 25-24 win at Texas Tech. K-State’s strength of schedule ranked No. 2 in the Sagarin Ratings entering the week.

“Belief and confidence are a tough combination to beat,” Klieman said. “They go hand in hand. When you win a football game like we did last week late, that really helps to have that belief and confidence. I hope it’s contagious because our kids are having fun.”

Three-win TCU finds itself in a precarious situation as three of its four remaining games are against teams with a winning record. The Horned Frogs are in danger of missing a bowl for the second time in three years.

K-State is on the doorstep of bowl eligibility.

“With everything that we experienced to start Big 12 play, and to get our feet back underneath us and get two big-time wins, and especially to play a game like that against a really good TCU team, is big for us,” Thompson said. “We just have to continue to build off it. We have a lot of confidence and that’s something we’ve got to build off as we continue forward.”