MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) – Skylar Thompson scrambled from pressure and threw a touchdown pass to Isaiah Zuber on the final play of the game, giving Kansas State a stunning 20-19 victory over Iowa State on Saturday night.
Thompson threw for 152 yards, none bigger than the one yard that he needed on the final play. The freshman quarterback took the snap with 11 seconds left, rolled to his left, then headed back to his right as the Cyclones gave chase and zipped a dart to Zuber for the touchdown.
The 10-play, 87-yard drive took every second of the 1 minute, 55 seconds left in the game.
The Wildcats (7-5, 5-4 Big 12) rallied from a 19-7 fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Cyclones (7-5, 5-4) for the 10th straight time. They also likely improved their bowl destination with the win.
Kyle Kempt threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns for Iowa State, but he was unable to complete a pass on third-and-6 at the Kansas State 49 that would have allowed his team to put the game away.
The game lived up to its “Farmageddon” nickname: Two old-school, ground-and-pound teams going at it, a slobber-knocker reminiscent of when these teams met in the old Big Eight days.
The Cyclones struck first with a field goal, but it came at a cost when top rusher David Montgomery left with an injury on the game’s first series. Kansas State answered with a touchdown drive that Thompson capped with a short run, albeit one that was set up by a short field.
That was the only offense the Wildcats managed until the fourth quarter.
Iowa State’s defense stiffened, and after Garrett Owens knocked through another field goal, coach Matt Campbell’s team trailed 7-6 at halftime despite holding the Wildcats to 53 yards total offense.
Kansas State had more than 400 yards in its upset of Oklahoma State last week.
The Cyclones took the lead on Marchie Murdock’s touchdown catch midway through the third quarter, and pushed their advantage to 19-7 on Hakeem Butler’s TD grab with 13:46 left in the game.
Kansas State finally resorted to using the Wildcat formation to march downfield, and still needed a trick play to score – running back Alex Barnes’ pop-pass to Winston Dimel on third-and-goal at 3.
The touchdown gave the Wildcats a chance for some late-game heroics.
Iowa State wrapped up the season losing three of its last four games, though the seven wins was a big step in the right direction. Sheldon Croney ran for 63 yards in place of Montgomery, but it was clear the Cyclones’ offense suffered without their top rusher.
Kansas State never got its offense on track until the fourth quarter. Making things even tougher was a crucial personal foul penalty on special teams coach Sean Snyder late in the game. Still, the Wildcats made it a memorable Senior Day with their spirited finish.
Iowa State awaits its first bowl bid since the 2012 Liberty Bowl.
Kansas State prepares for its eighth straight bowl game.