Kansas State sixth-year quarterback Skylar Thompson ran for two touchdowns, bulling into the end zone for the first one after missing most of last season with a shoulder injury, and the Wildcats opened the season with a 24-7 win over Stanford on Saturday.
Deuce Vaughn sprinted 59 yards for a touchdown and finished with 124 yards rushing on 13 carries for the Wildcats, who finished last season with a five-game losing streak.
Stanford was down 24-0 before Tanner McKee’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Brycen Tremayne with 3:16 left on its last offensive snap. The Cardinal, who last year won the last four games of their pandemic-shortened 4-2 season, have played 177 games since last being shut out, a 42-0 loss to Southern Cal on Nov. 4, 2006.
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Thompson injured his throwing (right) shoulder in the third game last season. Because of his love for football and the desire for a better finish, he called it an easy decision to return, taking advantage of the extra season of eligibility players got amid the pandemic.
Thompson, who later had a 13-yard TD run, opened the scoring when he put his left shoulder down and knocked cornerback Kyu Blu Kelly to the ground on a 6-yard TD run in the first quarter.
On the possession before the first TD, Kelly had an impressive interceptio n in the end zone, leaping and reaching back over Phillip Brooks and then managing to get one foot down inbounds. But Stanford went three-and-out, setting up the two-play TD drive, Thompson finding a wide-open Brooks for a 56-yard pass to the 6.
Stanford: With quarterback Davis Mills now in the NFL, Stanford used both 6-foot-6 sophomore McKee and senior Jack West. McKee finished 15-of-18 passing for 118 yards and the touchdown. West started was 8 of 12 for 76 yards with two interceptions, one pick coming right after completions of 27 and 15 yards. The Cardinal finished with only 233 total yards.
Kansas State: With Thompson and Vaughn, their leading rusher and receiver as a freshman last season, the Wildcats have two talented players leading their offense. The opener was a boost for a defense that allowed at least 32 points six times last year, including 45 and 69 points in games over the last month of the season.
Stanford: The Cardinal will be back in their home state of California, but will play their sixth consecutive road game dating back to last season, at Southern Cal on Saturday.
Kansas State: After playing their first home game at a neutral site, the Wildcats will be home to play FCS team Southern Illinois next Saturday.