MANHATTAN, Kan. “”mdash; Faced with a golden chance to snag a season-opening road victory in front of a packed house, the UCLA football team dropped the ball. Quite literally, in fact.
Junior wide receiver Taylor Embree couldn’t hang on to a two-point conversion attempt to tie the game with 1:19 to play in the fourth quarter, and Daniel Thomas and Kansas State ran all over the Bruins en route to a 31-22 win.
The recurring theme throughout the day was the dropped passes, as seemingly every receiver had his fair share of trouble.Â Sophomore Morrell Presley dropped passes on the first two plays of the game, and Embree couldn’t hang on to what would likely have been a touchdown in the third quarter.
After a Kansas State touchdown with 2:03 to play, UCLA marched down the field in less than a minute to have a chance to tie. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Kevin Prince found redshirt freshman wide receiver Ricky Marvray wide open in the back corner of the end zone to cap a two-play, 64-yard drive, but Embree couldn’t hang on to the two-point attempt.
UCLA held a 10-7 halftime lead, but Kansas State marched down the field on the opening possession of the third quarter and got a 28-yard touchdown run from William Powell to seize a lead that it wouldn’t relinquish. The teams exchanged field goals in the third quarter to round out the scoring.
Despite some good stretches of running the ball ““ including a pair of nice rushes by freshman Malcolm Jones ““ UCLA’s new-look pistol offense largely misfired. Prince was just 9-of-26 for 120 yards and two interceptions, and the UCLA attack stalled multiple times once it had pushed into Kansas State territory. The Bruins’ best play from scrimmage was a 43-yard run on an end-around by redshirt junior receiver Josh Smith in the fourth quarter.
Kansas State wasn’t too sharp in its own right, but the Wildcats got a big game from Thomas, who gained 250 yards of total offense. The senior running back also opened the scoring with a one-yard touchdown run in the first quarter that capped the Wildcats’ opening drive. The touchdown came on a fourth down, and occurred after UCLA was whistled for having 12 men on the field on Kansas State’s first attempt.
Thomas capped off his big day by running for a 35-yard score in the fourth quarter after a failed onside kick attempt from UCLA, which put the game away.
UCLA tied things up in the second quarter after Kansas State quarterback Carson Coffman fumbled the ball away at his own 11-yard line. Prince ran the ball in for a touchdown on the very next play.
The Bruins even took a 10-7 lead midway through the second quarter after they finally got their running game going. Kai Forbath capped an 11-play drive with a 44-yard field goal that would be the final scoring of the first half.
As with Jones, UCLA got solid contributions from freshmen Anthony Barr, who saw action at F-back, and Cassius Marsh, who rotated in at defensive tackle. The kicking game was also a bright spot, as busy punter Jeff Locke buried Kansas State inside their own five-yard line on two different occasions, and Forbath converted all three of his field goal attempts.