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Kansas State snaps out of lethargy with fourth-quarter explosion


POSTED September 2, 2012 12:07 a.m.

MANHATTAN — The first half was eerily reminiscent of last year’s season opener for Kansas State.
Uneasiness permeated the air at Bill Snyder Family Stadium early Saturday evening.
Just like 2011 opener against Eastern Kentucky.
The preseason No. 21-ranked Wildcats, notorious for being a slow starter, got out of the gate at a snail’s pace against Missouri Valley Conference foe Missouri State.
Just like last season.
Kansas State and Eastern Kentucky treated the 50,000-some fans to a scoreless deadlock at halftime before the Wildcats rallied from a 7-0 third-quarter deficit with 10 unanswered points in the final period for a 10-7 victory after Chris Harper’s toe-touch maneuver in the back of the end zone after streaking down the right sideline for a 33-yard TD pass from quarterback Collin Klein.
On Saturday night, the unheralded Bears, led by seventh-year head coach Terry Allen, formerly the head coach at Kansas (1997-2001), gave the Wildcats fits until midway through the third quarter.
In a first half filled with field goals, Kansas State’s Anthony Cantele kicked three to the Bears’ Austin Witmer’s two for a 9-6 lead.
Kansas State’s offensive machine, led by Klein, who rushed for 27 touchdowns last season, tying a Big 12 record and FBS quarterback record.
But the well-oiled machine was hardly hitting on all cylinders, especially in the first half, where he managed 11 carries for 46 yards.
It looked to be more of the same early in the third quarter. Witmer’s third successful boot, a 26-yard chip shot, tied the game at 9.
All of a sudden, everything changed.
So much for last-minute come-from-behind wins.
The Wildcats didn’t have to wait until the game clock had nearly expired.
Not this time.
Not by a long shot.
This time, wide receiver Tramaine Thompson, not Harper, was the catalyst. Thompson made a tight-rope, 18-yard touchdown reception from Klein, getting one leg down in the end zone at the 7:06 mark in the third quarter.
His touchdown gave Kansas State a 16-9 lead, the first of an avalanche of 42 unanswered points to send the Bears reeling back to Springfield, Mo.
During the final 11:46, the Wildcats had a 95-yard touchdown run by John Hubert, a 46-yard scoring run by backup quarterback Daniel Sams and an 89-yard punt return for a touchdown by Thompson to put the finishing touches on the romp.


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