Archive for Sunday, November 24, 2002

Everything just falls into place’ for Wildcats - No. 10 Kansas State 38, Missouri 0

Sproles rushes for 116 yards, scores as K-State blanks Tigers in Columbia, Mo., for first time since 1955

November 24, 2002


— Kansas State finished the regular season looking like it belonged among the Big 12's best, even if the Wildcats won't make it to the championship game.

Darren Sproles ran for 116 yards and a 12-yard touchdown, setting two school records in the process, and No. 10 Kansas State dominated defensively in a 38-0 victory over Missouri on Saturday.

"Everything just falls into place on Saturdays," offensive tackle Nick Leckey said. "We've made the right adjustments; we'll make the right pass. Everyone just comes out ready to play."

The Wildcats (10-2, 6-2 Big 12) reached 10 victories for the seventh time in school history, including five of the last six years. The Wildcats are not in contention for the Big 12 title because of midseason losses to Colorado and Texas - by a total of seven points.

Since losing 17-14 to Texas on Oct. 19, Kansas State has outscored its last five opponents 253-30. The Wildcats have beaten Missouri (5-7, 2-6) 10 straight times, outscoring the Tigers 345-112.

"I think we are playing very well," coach Bill Snyder said. "Whether it's better than any others, I couldn't tell you that at this time."

Missouri has lost 44 in a row to Top 10 teams, dating to 1981. The Tigers had been coming off their biggest victory of the season, beating Texas A&M; in double overtime, and hadn't been shut out by Kansas State at home since 1955.

The Wildcats allowed Missouri only three points over the last two games; they won 24-3 last year in Manhattan.

"It's a sour loss, very sour," Missouri defensive tackle Keith Wright said. "It's more sour because last year the game was very similar."

Kansas State got two second-half touchdown catches from Taco Wallace and had a season high for total yards for the second straight week, outgaining Missouri 553-191. The Wildcats produced their third shutout of the year and didn't allow the Tigers past midfield until the fourth quarter.

Missouri needed a victory to become bowl-eligible for the first time in four years.

"They won a lot of physical battles up front," said Missouri running back Zack Abron, who was held to 7 yards on nine carries. "It was rough."

Sproles, who had 25 carries, has eight straight 100-yard games and nine for the year to extend his school record. He has 1,347 yards to break the mark of 1,263, set by Josh Scobey last year. Sproles also set the school record for all-purpose yards with 1,656, topping the previous mark of 1,648, set by Henry Hawthorne in 1970.

"They were doing all kinds of stunts and stuff," Sproles said. "That made the holes wider."

Missouri quarterback Brad Smith, a redshirt freshman, became the second player in NCAA history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in a season. Smith entered the game needing 1 yard rushing to join Clemson's Woody Dantzler, who did it last year, and Smith got to the milestone with a 3-yard carry late in the first quarter.

But he didn't get much more, finishing with 30 yards on 13 carries and going 7-for-24 for 126 yards with an interception. Fifty-six of the passing yards came on a flea-flicker to Justin Gage to the Kansas State 15 early in the fourth, but Missouri was pushed back by a penalty and ran out of downs.

"This was certainly a learning experience for him," coach Gary Pinkel said. "He's going to grow from it. It's very frustrating for a quarterback to go out play after play and struggle, but I wasn't going to pull him out."

Kansas State led 17-0 at the half but missed a chance for more when Roberson lost a fumble on fourth-and-1 from the Missouri 9 to turn it over with 56 seconds to go. Joe Rheem, who made a 32-yard field goal in the first quarter, also missed a 37-yarder in the second.

Terence Newman got the Wildcats off to a fast start with a 71-yard punt return, his second of the season, with 14:16 to go in the first quarter. Sproles' 12-yard run with 4:03 to go in the second made it 17-0.

Ayo Saba had a 3-yard run and Wallace caught a 23-yard pass from Roberson for a 31-0 third-quarter lead, and Wallace caught a 46-yarder from Marc Dunn in the fourth quarter.

Newman, a cornerback, also helped shut down Missouri wide receiver Justin Gage. Gage was held to two catches for 56 yards.

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