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K-State Rides Thomas to Season-Opening Win

By Mark Janssen
 
 
Daniel Thomas may not have a driver's license (really, he doesn't) to manipulate a car down the road, but driving a football he's legal... and lethal.
 
The Wildcat running back established a career high of 234 yards on 28 carries to carry Kansas State to a season-opening 31-22 victory over UCLA Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
 
"That's good. I didn't even know that I had it," said Thomas of his rushing total. "The offensive line did a great job opening holes, so all I had to do was run through them."
Thomas, who called the day against the Bruins "a statement win," rushed for 54 first-half yards on 14 carries before turning it on in the second half with another 14 totes, but for 180 yards. Among those carries were touchdown runs of 1-yard to the left to open the game, and a 35-yard rumble to close out the scoring with 58 seconds to go after UCLA had closed the gap to two, 24-22, with 1:19 left in the game.
 
Among Thomas' runs was a career-best of 44 yards. The 6-2, 232-pound running back called it his "best game" as a Wildcat, but in true Thomas fashion added, "There's always room for improvement."
 
Yes, room for improvement because he did fumble the ball once, but as coach Bill Snyder said afterward, "He plays so hard ... second, third fourth effort, that's just his way."
 
"Oh man, Daniel was outstanding," said senior running back William Powell, who had 72 yards himself, with a touchdown. "Words can't explain it. He's a great back, that's all I can say."
 
For the game, K-State netted 313 rushing yards on 54 carries, or 5.8 yards per carry. Between Thomas and Powell, 306 yards were gained on 32 carries, plus three touchdowns.
 
On Powell's day, Snyder said, "It was a good thing. William has missed a lot of practice because he was banged up a little bit, so to come back and pick things up as quickly as he did was nice. He's like Daniel in that he's a hard worker, a good second-effort guy and hard to get off his feet."
 
Perhaps Thomas' most gifted play came in the final minutes of the game when, out of the Wildcat Formation, he left his feet for a jump-pass, but came down and scrambled for five yards.
 
"It was a pass, but he had to be wide open to throw it. I didn't want to turn it over," said Thomas, who has a 38-inch vertical jump. "I wanted to throw it, but I had to pull it down and travel with it."
 
THOMAS UPDATE: Daniel Thomas had career-highs of 28 carries for 234 yards, including a career-long run of 44 yards. It was the 12th 200-yard game in Kansas State history and the fifth highest total in school history.  It was the highest rushing total since Darren Sproles ripped off a school-record of 292 yards against Louisiana-Lafayette.  It was Thomas' sixth 100-yard game of his career.
 
Thomas now ranks 13th on the all-time Wildcat rushing charts with 1,499 yards. Saturday, Thomas passed Mack Green, Don Calhoun, Michael Bishop, Bill Butler and Roosevelt Duncan for career yardage. Next in line is James Johnson with 1,509 yards.
 
Top Five All-Time 200-Yard Games: Darren Sproles, 292 vs. La.-Lafayette (9/18/2004); Sproles, 273 vs. Missouri (11/22/2003); Mike Lawrence, 252 vs. Iowa State (11/23/1996); Sproles, 234 vs. Oklahoma (12/6/2003); Thomas, 234 vs. UCLA (9/4/2010).
 
FIRST-HALF BLUES: The first half was one of one positive series for K-State and seven that produced little to nothing.
 
After the Wildcats opened the game with a 55-yard drive in 10 plays that was capped by a 1-yard touchdown by Daniel Thomas, the next seven series netted seven total first downs and only 50 yards on 28 snaps.
 
"There was a point after we scored that first touchdown where we kind of went dead," said quarterback Carson Coffman, who ended up 11-of-16 passing for 66 yards and one touchdown. "I was feeling pretty bad about that. It shot back some memories from last year when we would do well at times, but then go on a big drought.
 
"I'm excited about how we finished the game," Coffman added. "In past years, I'm not sure if we would have done that. I'm not sure that last year we had that finishing attitude."
 
K-State gave the ball away on fumbles by Thomas and Coffman, with Coffman's coming at the Kansas State 11 and UCLA scoring the only first-half touchdown one play after the recovery on a run by quarterback Kevin Prince.
 
After the first drive, K-State averaged only 3.2 yards on first down, and faced at least third-and-5 on six of seven series.
 
K-State managed only three plays over nine yards in the half - a 13-yard pass to Aubrey Quarles, a 21-yard pass to Thomas and a 12-yard run by Thomas.
 
At the half, UCLA had out-gained Kansas State, 111-105, and out-scored the Cats 10-7.
 
"Coach just told us that the defense was doing their job, but we needed to pick it up," said Thomas of Snyder's intermission message.
 
ON COFFMAN: Carson Coffman's day included 11-of-16 passing for 66 yards and a 5-yard touchdown to Brodrick Smith. He also rushed the ball 13 times for a negative five yards due to five quarterback sacks.
 
On Coffman's play, Snyder said, "We need to have more than 60 yards of passing, but the things that he did, with a couple exceptions, he managed the ballgame and did some good things with the option. He had some throws that he just missed on."
 
Midway through the third quarter, Coffman was replaced by Collin Klein at quarterback, but it had nothing to do with Coffman's play.
 
"I was pretty sick. I threw up about 10 times on the sideline. I tried to go back in, but my calves were cramping up."
 
Coffman would get an IV and returned after two series.
 
PLAY OF THE GAME: Daniel Thomas broke free on a 35-yard run with 58 seconds remaining to put the game out of reach.
 
K-State had scored at the 2:03 mark on a Coffman 5-yard pass to Brodrick Smith, but UCLA had an immediate answer with a touchdown at the 1:19 mark to close the gap to 24-22. Their attempt for a two-point conversion failed.
 
The Wildcats scored three plays later - all runs by Thomas.
 
SPORTS EXTRA GAME BALLS: Offense - Daniel Thomas: 28 rushes, 234 yards, 2 TDs.  William Powell: 6 carries, 72 yards, 1 TD
 
Defense - Alex Hrebec: 12 tackles; Brandon Harold: 5 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 pass broken up.
 
Special Teams - Anthony Cantele: 35 yard field goal, 4-of-4 on extra points. Cantele also had four touchbacks on kickoffs.
 
QUOTE OF THE GAME: Sophomore Anthony Cantele handled all of Kansas State kicking chores.
 
Asked when he told his sophomore from Wichita that he would kick against the Bruins, Snyder quipped, "About 2:20."
 
In reality, Cantele was told on Wednesday.  Two years ago, the Wichita Kapaun Mt. Karmel product was kicking soccer balls at Missouri State, but transferred to the Wildcat program last year.
 
RECORD CROWD: The crowd was announced at 51,059, which was a school record for a home opener. It was also the 15th largest crowd in KSU Stadium/Bill Snyder Family Stadium history.
 
GAME NOTES:
• Offensive tackle Ethan Douglas suffered a left knee injury on the second snap of the game and was taken to the dressing room on a cart.  Snyder said the injury has been ruled as a sprain, but an MRI would take place on Sunday.
• UCLA's Kai Forbath nailed field goals of 44, 35 and 44 yards. He has now hit on 40 straight field goal attempts under 50 yards.
• Making surprise starts were David Garrett over Stephen Harrison at cornerback and Anthony Cantele over Josh Cherry at kicker.
• Tramaine Thompson was the primary return man on punts as he is looking to become the first K-State freshman to regularly do so since David Allen in 1997.
• Representatives were on hand from the Fiesta Bowl, plus the Bills, Panthers and Falcons from the NFL.
• KSU is now 62-60 in all-time games broadcast on television.
• There were 110 motorcycles involved in Harley Day.

NEXT WEEK: Kansas State plays host to Missouri State at 6:10 on Saturday.
 
 
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen at mjanssen7@cox.net, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at klannou@kstatesports.com.