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Kansas State finishes strong to defeat UCLA, 31-22

September 4, 2010 | 10:55 am
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Kansas State 31, UCLA 22 (final)

Daniel Thomas and Akeem Ayers waged a battle within a battle all game long Saturday, and in the end Thomas won with two key plays that allowed the Wildcats to win in front of a sellout crowd at Manhattan, Kan.

Thomas, the Big 12 Conference's top returning rusher, busted through an arm tackle by Ayers, UCLA's standout linebacker, and galloped 35 yards for the touchdown that finally put the Bruins away with 21 seconds left in the game.

Earlier in the quarter, Kansas State was clinging to a one-point lead when Thomas busted off a 27-yard run that got 15 yards tacked onto it after Ayers was penalized for hitting him late. The run and penalty sparked an eight-play, 80-yard scoring drive that put the Wildcats up, 24-16.

Thomas finished with 234 yards and two touchdowns in 28 carries, leading a Kansas State running game that went for 312 yards.

UCLA got 120 yards passing and 30 yards rushing by Kevin Prince, who played the entire game despite missing considerable practice time because of a back injury the last couple of weeks.

Prince completed only nine of 26 passes, though -- mostly because UCLA's receivers had trouble holding onto the ball.

UCLA hung close thanks to another player fighting off an injury. Kicker Kai Forbath, who has been nursing a groin injury, made field goals from 44, 35 and 42 yards.

--Mike Hiserman

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Kansas State 24, UCLA 22 (1:19 left in the game)

What was largely a ho-hum game has turned humdinger in the final minutes.

Kansas State looked like it had the game wrapped up when it scored on a five-yard pass from Carson Coffman to Broderick Smith with 2 minutes 3 seconds left in the game. The point after gave the Wildcats an eight-point lead.

That meant UCLA was left to depend on a two-minute drill led by a quarterback who because of injury hasn't practiced much recently.

To which UCLA's Kevin Prince said, who needs practice?

Starting 64 yards away, Prince and the Bruins covered the territory in two plays -- a 35-yard pass to Cary Harkey and a 29-yard scoring pass to Ricky Marvay.

Unfortunately for the Bruins, Prince's pass to Taylor Embree on a two-point PAT try fell incomplete.

Kansas State 17, UCLA 16 (6:28 left in game)

UCLA didn't look very organized on one of its biggest plays of the game so far.

Faced with a third-and-7 situation and trailing by four points, the Bruins were first forced to call a timeout because they were not organized when they lined up, then came back out, gave quarterback Kevin Prince all kinds of time to throw, and still couldn't get the job done.

With all receivers covered, Prince threw the ball out of the end zone and UCLA was forced to settle for a 42-yard field goal by Kai Forbath.

Good thing that groin muscle has improved enough for Forbath to kick. Otherwise, the Bruins wouldn't be close.

Now he has them within a point.

Kansas State 17, UCLA 13 (end of third quarter)

Kansas State, under Coach Bill Snyder, is known for getting much stronger as the season progresses.

They're not waiting long this year.

The Wildcats look like they're starting to wear down the Bruins' defense, having just added a 35-yard field goal by Anthony Cantele.

Kansas State had 143 yards in offense in the third quarter, and the Wildcats are pounding away on the ground.

Iuta Tepa came up with a big defensive play for UCLA, preventing the drive from going any further by sacking quarterback Carson Coffman on a third-and-7 play.

Kansas State 14, UCLA 13 (7:39 left in third quarter)

Kai Forbath was healthy enough to make a field goal from 44 yards earlier, so no surprise that he just converted from 36 yards, pulling UCLA back to within a point.

The Bruins would be doing better than that, too, if their supposedly talent-laden corps of receivers could ever make a play.

Quarterback Kevin Prince still doesn't look sharp -- missing a bunch of practice will have that result -- but he's putting the ball close enough for his receivers to make catches. They're just not doing it.

UCLA's drive covered 62 yards in 14 plays -- all running the ball except for a five-yard pass and 15 yards picked up on a pass interference call.

Kansas State 14, UCLA 10 (early third quarter)

Kansas State, which gained 105 yards in the first half, just went 80 yards for a touchdown in its first four plays of the second half.

Carson Coffman completed two passes for 18 yards, Daniel Thomas made a 44-yard run on a third-and-two play, and William Powell finished the quick-strike drive off with a 28-yard scoring run.

Finally, some offense!

--Mike Hiserman

UCLA 10, Kansas State 7 (halftime)

There was nothing UCLA did in the first half Saturday that showed the new offensive philosophy was any better than the old offensive philosophy.

Yet, for the Bruins' defense, it seemed to be business as usual, which left UCLA with a 10-7 halftime lead over Kansas State at Snyder Stadium.

UCLA capitalized on a huge break when Kansas State quarterback Carson Coffman fumbled a snap and linebacker Akeem Ayers recovered the ball on the Wildcats’ 11-yard line.

UCLA scored immediately, with quarterback Kevin Prince faking a handoff to running back Johnathan Franklin before going untouched into the end zone to tie the score, 7-7, with 12 minutes 43 seconds left in the second quarter.

On the Bruins next possession, the offense cobbled out a short drive, highlighted Franklin throwing a shoe and Kai Forbath, playing despite a groin injury, kicking a field goal.

Franklin lost his shoe on a four-yard run, leaving the Bruins with third down and two at the Kansas State 34. With UCLA running a no-huddle offense, Franklin tossed the shoe 10 yards back, then carried again for seven yards.

The drive stalled and Forbath made a 44-yard field goal. He has made 38 consecutive kicks from within 50 yards.

Forbath was questionable up to game time, as he has kicked little in the last two weeks because of a sore groin.

But UCLA, which switched to the “pistol” offense this season, had only 111 total yards. The offensive change was made to improve the Bruins’ running game, which ranked 97th nationally in 2009. UCLA had 68 yards rushing in the first half, but was unable to generate offensive consistency.

The defense handled things after giving up a touchdown on Kansas State’s first possession. The Wildcats were limited to 105 total yards in the half, 55 of which came on the first drive.

It took a mistake and a moment of confusion that led to the Wildcats' score. But on a third try on fourth and goal from the one-yard line, Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas walked into the end zone from one-yard out.

UCLA stopped Thomas short on the Wildcats’ first try. But the Bruins were penalized for too many men on the field. UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel was furious on the sideline, as he had been trying to call time out.

Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder called time out on the second fourth-down attempt and it erased a one-yard sneak by Coffman.

Thomas took the option pitch to the left on the next try and easily beat Ayers to the end zone.

UCLA 10, Kansas State 7 (midway through second quarter)

Johnathan Franklin threw a shoe and Kai Forbath kicked a field goal.

Franklin lost his cleats on a four-yard run, leaving the Bruins with a third-and-two play at the Kansas State 34. With UCLA running a no-huddle offense, Franklin tossed the shoe 10 yards back, then carried again for seven yards.

The drive stalled and Forbath made a 44-yard field goal. The Bruins kicker has made 38 consecutive attempts from within 50 yards.

UCLA 7, Kansas State 7 (early second quarter)

UCLA capitalized on a huge break when Kansas State quarterback Carson Coffman fumbled a snap and linebacker Akeem Ayers recovered on the 11-yard line.

On the next play, UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince faked to running back Johnathan Franklin and went untouched into the end zone.

Kai Forbath, kicking despite a groin injury, made the extra point to tie the score.

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It took a big mistake and a moment of confusion, but on a third fourth-and-goal attempt from the one-yard line, Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas walked into the end zone.

UCLA stopped Thomas short on the Wildcats’ first try. But the Bruins were penalized for too many men on the field. UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel was furious on the sideline, as he had been trying to call time out.

Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder got his time out on the second fourth-down attempt, but it erased a one-yard sneak by quarterback Carson Coffman.

Thomas took the option pitch to the left on the next try and easily beat linebacker Akeem Ayers into the end zone.

The 55-yard touchdown drive followed a three-and-out set by the Bruins. Quarterback Kevin Prince threw three incomplete passes.

Pregame

UCLA kicker Kai Forbath warmed up in hopes that he'll be able to play today in the Bruins' season opener against Kansas State. Forbath, the Lou Groza Trophy winner last season as the nation's top placekicker, has been sidelined with a groin problem that is either soreness or a small tear. Forbath said this week there have been "mixed diagnosis."

Kevin Prince will start at quarterback for UCLA.

Prince, who was last season’s starter when healthy, missed nearly three weeks during training camp after suffering a small tear in a back muscle. He practiced this week and appears ready to play, judging by the accuracy and velocity of his throws.

Coach Rick Neuheisel remained mum on whether Prince or Richard Brehaut would start the game.

Family looks after family

UCLA offensive line coach Bob Palcic will have his son-in-law looking over his shoulder today ... or, rather, his son-in-law’s name.

Mark Simoneau was a linebacker at Kansas State from 1996-99 and is in the Wildcats’ hall of fame. His name is on the second-tier facade behind the UCLA side of the field at Snyder Stadium.

-- Chris Foster

Photo: UCLA defensive end Damien Holmes makes the tackle on Kansas State quarterback Carson Coffman during the first half Saturday. Credit: John Rieger / US Presswire

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