Pringle’s Four Touchdowns Help K-State Shock No. 10 Oklahoma State, 45-40

Kansas State wide receiver Byron Pringle (9) catches a pass in front of Oklahoma State cornerback Rodarius Williams (8) and carries it in for a touchdown in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. Kansas State won 45-40. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Courtesy: K-State Athletics

STILLWATER, Okla. – Redshirt freshman quarterback Skylar Thompson connected with junior wide receiver Byron Pringle on three passing touchdowns, and Pringle added an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to help Kansas State shock 13th-ranked Oklahoma State, 45-40, at Boone Pickens Stadium.

Pringle became the first player in Big 12 history with three touchdown catches and a kickoff return touchdown in the same game.

Saturday’s upset makes Kansas State bowl-eligible for the eighth consecutive year, and the 19th time under Head Coach Bill Snyder, executing K-State’s Goal No. 13 – Expect to Win. The win also gave Snyder his 122nd career Big Eight/12 victory to break his tie with Bob Stoops and move him into sole possession of second-place all-time.

HOW IT HAPPENED
Led by Thompson, the Wildcats rushed down the field on their opening drive, scoring on a 10-play, 71-yard drive that was capped off by a 5-yard touchdown on a quarterback-keeper by Thompson. The 10-play drive was in result of the running attack, as all 10 plays were on the ground, including six carries for 65 yards from Thompson, the Wildcats were first on the board, 7-0.

The next score would come from the Cowboys, who used a quick two-play, 70-yard drive to answer the K-State opening possession. Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph found wide receiver James Washington open for a 38-yard touchdown pass to bring the game to 7-7.

The Wildcats’ early success in the run game stalled after the Cowboys made adjustments, as the following three possessions resulted in three-and-outs. Trailing early, K-State was forced to step up, Goal #10 – Never Give Up.

Trailing 10-7, the Wildcats put together a string of strong defensive possessions to get back in position to take the lead. To mark the end of the first quarter, senior defensive tackle Will Geary got to Rudolph for a five-yard sack to end the first quarter. Sophomore defensive end Kyle Ball would also get to Rudolph in the second quarter to hold the Cowboys to just three points on the drive.

K-State got its offense moving again on the first drive of the second quarter, this time through the air, as Thompson aired one out to Pringle for a 47-yard touchdown to bring the score to 14-10.

Following an OSU field goal, Pringle would strike again. On the kickoff, Pringle received the ball at the 11-yard line and found a crease up the K-State sideline to return it to the house for an 89-yard kickoff return, the second kickoff return of the season for the Wildcats, as they lead all FBS teams since 2005 in kick and punt return touchdowns with 45.

With the lead, K-State’s defensive continued to apply pressure to the Cowboy offense, forcing back-to-back Rudolph interceptions, as junior defensive backs Duke Shelley and Kendall Adams found Rudolph’s overthrown passes to force OSU to two turnovers in the first half. The Wildcats would capitalize on the latter turnover on a 39-yard touchdown rush by sophomore running back Alex Barnes to extend K-State’s lead to 28-13 at halftime. The Wildcats would go into halftime with 202 total yards on offense, including 127 on the ground.

Similar to their first-half strike, Thompson went back to Pringle in the second half, as the duo connected on a 46-yard touchdown at the 7:47 mark of the third quarter and then a 60-yard touchdown strike with 5:22 left in the third frame to bring the lead to 42-13.

With a large lead, the Wildcats were tasked with holding the fast-paced Cowboys’ offense, as they answered with two consecutive 75-yard scoring drives to bring the score to 45-27. In between the two OSU touchdowns, senior place-kicker Matthew McCrane connected on a 33-yard field goals to bring his total to 21 on the year.

Following a K-State punt, Oklahoma State marched down the field on the strength of a 63-yard pass to Marcell Ateman that was capped off by a Rudolph 2-yard touchdown run to close the gap to 45-34 with 4:55 remaining.

On the following K-State possession, Thompson was sacked and lost control of the football, as Oklahoma State took over at the K-State 39 yard-line with just over four minutes remaining. The Cowboys would use three plays to bring the score to 45-40, as senior linebacker Trent Tanking intercepted Rudolph’s 2-point conversion attempt.

With under three minutes remaining, OSU possessed the ball nearing midfield, needing a touchdown to gain the advantage. K-State forced four-consecutive Rudolph incompletions to regain possession and run the clock out for the victory, 45-40.

The Wildcats totaled 421 yards in the game, including 217 on the ground and 204 through the air, and allowed 510 total yards including 425 yards through the air.

OFFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Thompson spurred the opening possession on his feet, rushing for 65 yards and a 5-yard touchdown rush on the opening drive and totaled a career-high 93 rushing yards in the game. Thompson also had great success through the air, throwing 10-for-13 for 204 yards and three touchdowns.

Pringle hauled in all of Thompson’s passing touchdowns, as the duo connected on a 47-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, and a 46-yard touchdown pass and a 60-yard touchdown in the third quarter to give Pringle his eighth, ninth and 10th career touchdown receptions and his fourth, fifth and sixth of the year.

With Thompson leading the ground attack for the Wildcats, Barnes also had a big effect on the game, breaking a 39-yard touchdown rush in the first half. Barnes took 22 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown in the game.

DEFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE GAME
The Wildcats had a big first half against Rudolph, intercepting him twice and recording three sacks. Shelley recorded the first interception after tracking down a long-pass from Rudolph, marking his second interception of the season, while Adams recorded a takeaway right before halftime on another overthrown Rudolph pass, his third interception of the season.

The defensive front also had a great effect on Rudolph’s passes, as the front-line totaled four sacks in the game, including 1.5 from Geary and Ball in the first half, and one from sophomore defensive tackle Trey Dishon in the fourth quarter, tying the most team sacks this season.

Senior linebacker Jayd Kirby led the game with 12 total tackles, including 11 solo. Kirby’s 12-tackle game is the third time he has hit double-digits this season, as he recorded a career-high 13 tackles against Oklahoma earlier this season.

SPECIAL TEAMS STARS OF THE GAME
Pringle not only scored through the air, but also on special teams, returning an 89-yard kick off to the house in the second quarter. Pringle’s kickoff return marks the second of his career and the first since he took a 99-yard return against Texas Tech in 2016.

Coming off a record-breaking game in which he broke the school record for most field goals made in a career (56), McCrane upped his record to 57 on Saturday, as he nailed a 33-yard field goal and connected on all six of his extra points in the game.

STATS OF THE GAME
3 – Junior wide receiver Byron Pringle’s three touchdown receptions tied Tyler Lockett’s school record, previously set against Michigan in the 2013 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. His 41.5 yards per catch average was the third-highest in school history, while his 166 receiving yards were a career high.

284.9 – Redshirt freshman quarterback Skylar Thompson posted a 284.9 quarterback rating, which is the highest-ever recorded by a freshman in school history and the fourth-highest single-game mark.

2012 – Saturday’s win marked the first time K-State defeated a ranked team since winning at No. 11 Oklahoma, 31-30, in 2014, while it was the first over a Top 10 team since topping sixth-ranked Oklahoma, 24-19, in 2012, a game that was also played in Norman.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS
Kansas State Head Coach Bill Snyder
On today’s win…
“I just said I appreciated the fact that we played hard. I addressed the value of being able to play collectively as a team. Defense had a role in it. Offense had a role in it. Special teams had a role in it. We can be a decent football team when we play well on all three sides of the ball. That was probably the biggest emphasis.”

On Kansas State’s offense…
“I thought Skylar [Thompson] did awfully well. We only threw 13 passes and still we were able to get the ball downfield. That was the important thing. So we got some big plays. We’ve had a drought with big plays, really. We got some today that made a substantial difference. [Byron] Pringle had a role in that in not only the kick return, but the catches that he made and the routes that he ran in order to get himself open. I think that was significant. Skylar managed the game well. He threw the ball extremely well. Ran a little bit when he had to.”

On Kansas State’s defense…
“I think the things we did well is, first, we kept them out of the end zone. It was significant in the first half. We gave up big plays and that didn’t stop in the second half as well. At the end of the day, we made the stop that won the ballgame. Being able to hold them on four downs after watching their offense, I’m not sure anybody can hold them for four downs. That is a pretty major task.”

On playing as underdogs…
“They don’t surprise me. Because it’s expected. I expect them to play well, and I expect them to be successful ballgame in and ballgame out. There isn’t anything that was a surprise. They got closer to playing to what I would expect they’re capable of playing.”

Kansas State Offensive Lineman Dalton Risner
On Skylar Thompson’s performance…
“He was really good and he came in this game extremely confident. I was worried last week he was shaky and I was worried about him, but what can you expect? Like I told you guys in media, I knew that Skylar was going to come in and get it done. I could see that confidence in him and I wanted to see that out of him today and he did an extremely good job. It sucks that he got banged up later in the game but he’s completely fine…he played a great game and I’m extremely proud of him.”

On Byron Pringle’s performance…
“It is the same story. You talk about the offensive line being up and down, but we have got to do some good things today and same with Byron. He has been up and down but he got to do some great things today and it’s all stuff we knew he could do and it is all things he knew he could do. It is all just getting the right opportunity at the right time and making it happen. He did an extremely good job…he had a big smile on, you guys don’t see Byron scream or do anything crazy but he had a big smile on after the game and gave the offense a little speech about how blessed he was. It was pretty cool.”

Kansas State Linebacker Jayd Kirby
On what was going through his head at the end of the game when OSU had the ball…
“It got to the point where it was going to be in the defense’s hands. It did not need to be there. It should not have gotten to that point, but it got to that point so we were all comfortable. It was, let’s go out there and do it for the team.”

On if this win turns their season around…
“Oh yeah. I mean huge. We just got bowl eligible and beat a top 10 team so I mean yeah that is huge. We really needed that win for the team.”

OSU Head Coach Mike Gundy
Opening statement:
“For whatever reason I can’t figure out what I’m doing or not doing that keeps us from showing up in the first half of our home games, and I shared that with the team. We all need to look at ourselves and figure out what’s going on because we, for whatever reason, we’re not showing up and we get in a hole. And then today we were in an unbelievably deep hole. Quite honestly I don’t know how we got back in it at the point to where we had a real chance to win in the end and then couldn’t execute. We couldn’t throw we couldn’t catch, which chances of that happening were slim in my opinion.”

“We just didn’t play very good today and that is disappointing and obviously that starts with me. I must not have done a good job of getting them ready this week. I thought we practiced well but I need to go back and look and see exactly what happened and try to make the adjustments that we need to make in all phases to improve. The turnovers obviously are killer and then allowing the touchdown on special teams. Even though they returned the kickoff for a touchdown, I want to see what happened. The ball was placed on the boundary, it looked like there were 45 people in the boundary, and how that guy came out of there I don’t know. So we’ll have to look and see what happened there, but we worked extremely hard this week on all of our special teams, because obviously that’s where Kansas State makes a living. And our coverage units, other than that one, and our punts were good, but we lost that one.”

“Three-of-13 on third down is not really like us, for the most part. Mason (Rudolph) did not play good in the first half. So it is really pretty simple. I’m disappointed in their play and I’m disappointed in our coaching, in that their plans were better than ours. Their players played better than we did. Each week I have to make an opinion on how I think we match up against each team and that helps us put together game plans and so on.”

“In my opinion, we should have won that game just based on talent from top to bottom. It’s got nothing to do with Kansas State. I have all the respect in the world for their staff, all the respect in the world for their players. But we should’ve played better and we should’ve done enough to win the football game. It’s not always that way but in my opinion that’s the way I felt. So I give them a lot of credit for what they brought in, for rallying, for making plays in the end. They made the last plays out here and we didn’t. I told the team that too, that’s exactly what I told them, is that, ‘You should’ve won this game, and that’s not you as players. That’s coaches and players as a group. We as an organization should’ve played well enough at home to win the game.’ But that’s why we play the games, it doesn’t always fall that way.”

“So you talk about a special teams touchdown, you lost the turnover battle, I don’t know how many poor throws and/or dropped passes we had, and we weren’t any good on third down, and we gave up at least three, and maybe four huge plays on defense. So you stir all that up and that’s not a good thing. That is really what happened.”

On if there was life or energy missing from the team…
“I do not think it was that. That’s why I said I am a little confused from my standpoint, I did not feel like it was that. We just were not making any plays. I said you throw everything in and you stir it up, it was there were times we didn’t block very good, there were times we didn’t cover very good, times we didn’t throw very good, times we didn’t catch very good, and there was a time we did not cover the kickoff very good.”

“I did not think it was lifeless, I just am a little puzzled why, in the first half playing at home with the crowds we have that are unbelievable, why we can’t perform better in the first half. The only way that I know to clean something up and fix it is to address it and say, ‘I think this is an issue, let’s fix it.’ Otherwise, it doesn’t go away, and that’s why I was saying that. Not so much lifeless but I’m not sure, there are just a lot of little things that kept going; that when you threw it all in there and stir it up, that’s why you got beat, or we got beat.”

On what KSU did offensively that OSU didn’t quite expect…
“Well it’s the same stuff, the same stuff they’ve done. And what’s interesting is we had several three-and-outs today, but then we give up big plays. And you have to minimize big plays against a team that runs that style of offense in my opinion because you can get your three-and-outs, but you can’t give up big plays, you can’t turn guys loose in the secondary, that’s what we did a few times.”

OSU Defensive Coordinator Glenn Spencer:
On OSU’s defense…
“You have to play some man coverage to stop all the quarterback runs. They are a great running team. Those big plays count though. It’s not like you can say, ‘Hey, you guys did all right except for the big plays,’ you know. Big plays count. Again, it’s all about scoring defense. We didn’t score too much.”

On defensive adjustments…
“They do a good job when they start stacking their run game. After that first drive they had a couple double leads … and quarterback runs. We had to stiffen it up, and that means some guys are on islands and have to make plays … staying as deep as the deepest sometimes … and keep it in front of you. I thought we answered back on the run game, but we were definitely not strong enough in all phases. That’s very evident.”

On the team’s slow starts…
“We will address it. Mike [Gundy] mentioned it there, and he’s right. Why the same calls that we called after that first series that stopped them … maybe it was a missed tackle, a miss hit, they aren’t ready for the game … I’m not sure, but we’ve got to address it and get that problem fixed. We can’t start off behind like that. You lose all the home momentum, and they catch up. The game wasn’t lost in that last series. The game wasn’t lost in the last couple series. We had some stops, but we did too much damage on those big plays in that second and third quarter. We had a chance to make a run at them and get up. The offense started doing something, and we lost momentum by giving up a big play.”

OSU Offensive Coordinator Mike Yurcich
On the last series…
“I don’t know if surprised is the right word. I was hopefully just trying to get us in the right play, and that’s where my mind was. I don’t have expectations like some people do. You just take what comes and work on the next call. That’s where my mind was.”

On the last nine minutes…
“There was more rhythm, obviously. Any time you’re able to get first downs, you get lined up faster, you exhaust the defense, you’re able to sustain drives and play with more rhythm. I think that was the case there.”

On the out in the final series to James Washington…
“It was open. I think everybody in the stadium saw that. That’s a guy who has made that catch a million times, and he’s got to put that one past him and move on down the road. That’s the nature of the beast. You throw a guy 500 balls in a season, he is going to drop one. It’s just one of those things where James has to get over that and move on to next week.”

On quarterback Mason Rudolph…
“I think I have to do a better job of preparing him. I take full responsibility for it. The kid is a great quarterback, and I’ve got to get him more prepared and do what we have to do to get him executing better.”

OSU Quarterback Mason Rudolph
On the Cowboys’ late charge…
“We thought everything was going well down the stretch and we gave ourselves a chance. Obviously on that fourth down, I threw it a little high over Marcell [Ateman]. I’ve got to give him a chance and I failed to do that.”

On what led to his first half struggles…
“I don’t really know. That’s a good question. I don’t think we played very well as a whole so we’ll have to go back and watch the tape.”

On missing out on the Big 12 Championship game…
“It sucks. It’s not fun, but we’ll turn it around and come back focused tomorrow.”

OSU Offensive Tackle Zach Crabtree
On his immediate reaction…
“We have got to show up and start faster. You can’t start slow at this level. It doesn’t matter who you play, because everybody is good enough to beat you. We started slow and didn’t get all the way after it tonight.”

On the Cowboys’ late charge…
“We just stayed the course. We talked about having no fear, no frustration and no fatigue and stayed the course and did our job. That’s what we did and essentially gave ourselves a chance at the end, but when you dig yourself in that big of a hole to start out the game, it’s hard to come out of.”

On moving forward to next week’s game against Kansas…
“It is all about our mentality. When we come in tomorrow, it’s a new day and the sun comes up tomorrow. It’s about our approach and the way we attack, because we all have to realize that we still have some big games ahead and so we’ll come back to work and get ready to go.”

OSU Defensive End Cole Walterscheid
On his immediate reaction…
“They outplayed us alls game and we came out kind of flat. They got up on us and we just were never really able to recover.”

On the Cowboys’ late charge…
“We worked hard to try and get the ball back there at the end, but it was just a little too late and we let ourselves get too far behind really.”

On moving forward to next week’s game against Kansas…
“We just have to forget about the loss tomorrow, correct our mistakes and move on so that we can get our mind focused on Kansas.”

OSU Linebacker Justin Phillips
On his immediate reaction…
“We of course wish that we could’ve come out with the win tonight, but we just have to move forward and learn from the mistakes we made in this game.”

On the Cowboys’ late charge…
“We just kept on it and we thought we had a chance the whole game. When we finally got that little bit of momentum, we kind of got rolling, but we weren’t able to finish that off in the end.”

On moving forward to next week’s game against Kansas…
“We just have to figure out how to start off fast at home and then make sure we finish the game strong.”

OSU Wide Receiver James Washington
On his immediate reaction…
“I really don’t know, we just kind of came out flat. We needed to come out ready to make plays.”

On the Cowboys’ late charge…
“We just had some energy and guys did their jobs when the ball came to them.”

On moving forward to next week’s game against Kansas…
“We can’t dwell on this loss. We have to come back stronger and make sure that we are ready to go next week.”

SEASON RECORD UPDATE
K-State 6-5 (4-4 Big 12)
Oklahoma State 8-3 (5-3 Big 12)

WHAT’S NEXT
K-State will close out regular season play at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on November 25 as the Wildcats play host to the Iowa State Cyclones. The kickoff time and television provider will be announced on Sunday.

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