By RON PRESTON
MANHATTAN - It was supposed to be a family reunion Friday night in Manhattan. Excitement and expectations were high as the Kansas State Wildcats hosted North Dakota State in the opening the college football season.
The invited guests, the North Dakota State Bisons, two time defending champion of the Football Champions Subdivision, didn’t act very friendly to the Wildcats and in fact they stole the game plan right out of Coach Bill Snyder’s playbook.
Prior to the game, the new West Stadium Center was dedicated with the unveiling of a statue of legendary coach as part of the Bill Snyder Family Stadium festivities.
By the time the reunion was over, the fireworks shot and the final roar of the crowd was heard it was the Bosons’ who had upset the reigning Big 12 Champion Wildcats 24-21 in front of the largest home opening crowd in school history: 53,351.
The Wildcats played a sluggish first quarter with transfer Jake Waters taking over for the departed Collin Klein, who watched from the sidelines for part of the game. Waters went 12 of 16 for 148 yards passing and a late touchdown to tie the score at 7.
The amazing and confusing statistic for the first quarter is the Cats could only gain 19 yards rushing against the talented and quick Bison defensive line.
The talented and vaunted K-State offensive line failed to give running back John Hubert any openings and had Waters scrambling on many plays throughout the entire game.
In fact, the usual run oriented Wildcat offensive attack netted just 41 yards on 23 attempts for the game.
Waters’ debut was good as he went 21 of 29 for 280 yards with two long touchdown passes to Tyler Locket (56 yards) in the third quarter and a 45 yard strike to Tramaine Thompson in the first half.
Abilene’s Curry Sexton was four-for four in pass receptions for 35 yards. Sexton played on special team and made a touchdown saving tackle in the third quarter.
The Wildcats led 21 to 7 with 9:58 remaining in the third period following a 17 yard scamper into the end zone by Daniel Sams, who had relieved Waters on the third down and three yards to go for first down play.
From there, it was all North Dakota State. They took Bill Snyder’s play book and ran the ball, through first down passes, and controlled the clock for the remainder of the game.
The final dagger came on a one yard touchdown run by quarterback Brock Jensen with 28 seconds left in the game.
The winning score took 18 plays, covering 80 yards and consuming 8:30 minutes to stun the sold out stadium.
“I’m pretty angry with the outcome,” center BJ Finney said following the game. “Because I made mistakes I shouldn’t have. I should have played better and it just kind of went through the whole unit.
“So I’m going to hold myself to a higher standard and I’m going to hold everybody else on the unit to a higher standard. We’ve got to do better.”
“They’re certainly disappointed and they’re hurt. I think they knew that it was going to be a difficult ballgame and that North Dakota State was extremely talented and a very fine football team,” Coach Snyder said after the first home opening loss since 1989.
“We got outplayed and outcoached by a very fine football team,” Snyder added.
The non-conference schedule doesn’t get any easier for the young Wildcats as Louisiana comes to Manhattan next Saturday for a 5: 30 p.m. kickoff.