Kansas State football pushes past Nevada, 38-17, thanks to a big fourth quarter

Arne Green
Topeka Capital-Journal

MANHATTAN — Three games into the season, it looks like Kansas State's defense is legitimately as good as advertised.

As for quarterback Will Howard, he isn't too shabby either.

Throw in a dominating rushing attack, and a big fourth quarter, and the Wildcats remained undefeated Saturday with a resounding 38-17 victory over Nevada in front of 48,768 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Nevada (2-1) came back from a 17-7 halftime deficit to tie the game at 17 late in the third quarter, but from there it was all K-State.

The Wildcats answered with a 75-yard scoring drive to go in front on Deuce Vaughn's 11-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter. The defense then got a key fourth-down stop at the K-State 38-yard line and took advantage with a 62-yard scoring drive. Howard capped the 6-minute, 9-second drive with a 2-yard run with 6:12 left.

Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn (22) runs past Nevada defensive back Jordan Lee (13) and safety JoJuan Claiborne (8) on Saturday.

Another defensive stop all but iced the game, and for good measure Howard scored again on a 1-yard sneak with 1:12 left for good measure.

K-State finished with 398 yards total offense, 269 on the ground, as Vaughn carried 23 times for 127 yards and Joe Ervin 11 times for 82. Each had a rushing touchdown and Howard, who also completed 7 of 10 passes for 123 yards, also rushed for two scores.

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K-State's defense allowed a season-high 331 yards, but only 25 on the ground. Wolf Pack quarterback Carson Strong was 27 of 40 passing for 262 yards and was sacked three times after only going down twice in the first two games.

Howard, making his first start of the season in place of injured super-senior Skylar Thompson, played the entire second half after backup Jaren Lewis played the second quarter.

The fact that Lewis took over at quarterback with seconds left in the first quarter would suggest that the plan was to give him at least one series to start the second. As for keeping him in after directing an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive, could be offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham decided to go with the hot hand the rest of the half.

K-State running game dominated the first half, totaling 139 yards on 5.8 yards per carry. Vaughn had 14 attempts for 65 yards and Ervin five carries for 52, including a 22-yard touchdown.