LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) – Alex Barnes ran for 128 yards and two touchdowns, D.J. Reed returned a kickoff 99 yards for another score and Kansas State held on to beat upset-minded Kansas 30-20 on Saturday.
The Jayhawks got within a touchdown when Carter Stanley hit Steven Sims with a 60-yard touchdown pass with 6:51 to go. But after the teams swapped possessions, the Wildcats’ Matt McCrane hit his third field goal from 41 yards out with 1:21 remaining to put the game away.
Alex Delton threw for 98 yards and ran for 36 yards before leaving late in the first half with an undisclosed injury. Third-string quarterback Skylar Thompson played the rest of the way for Kansas State (4-4, 2-3 Big 12), which snapped a two-game skid with its 10th straight win over the Jayhawks.
Stanley threw for 418 yards with a touchdown and a pick. Sims had nine catches for 233 yards.
The Jayhawks (1-7, 0-5) only managed 21 yards total offense their last time out against TCU, and hadn’t scored in nine quarters dating to the Texas Tech game. But they had 137 yards in the first quarter – more than in their last two games combined – and led 3-0 after Gabriel Rui’s early field goal.
But any momentum Kansas gained was wiped away when Reed took the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. The third return TD allowed by the Jayhawks this season ended their lead after 14 seconds and gave coach Bill Snyder’s Wildcats a lead they would never relinquish.
McCrane added the first of his field goals before the break, and the Wildcats needed just over a minute to turn a fumble by Stanley on the first play of the second half into a touchdown.
The Jayhawks tried to make it a game by marching 97 yards early in the fourth quarter. And when Taylor Martin scored from five yards out, they not only had their first touchdown in 12-plus quarters but also cut the Wildcats’ lead to 20-13 with 13:26 left in the game.
Kansas State’s defense forced a punt in the shadows of the Jayhawks’ own goal post, though, giving the Wildcats excellent field position. Barnes carried three straight times, and his nine-yard scamper on first-and-goal with 7:36 remaining gave them a cushion that would come in handy.
Kansas State: The Wildcats continue to own the Sunflower State, but the chasm that has separated the programs for years has narrowed to a crack. That has as much to do with the Wildcats backpedalling as the Jayhawks making progress; their offense was inconsistent and their defense porous once again.
Kansas: The Jayhawks at least made the game competitive, but another loss for coach David Beaty will only turn up the heat on his seat. It could also turn up the pressure on athletic director Sheahon Zenger, who’s been unable to hire a coach capable of turning around the program.
Kansas State wraps up back-to-back road games Saturday at Texas Tech.
Kansas plays host to Baylor on Saturday in a battle for the Big 12 cellar.