Starting the second quarter with first and goal, Oregon once again trotted out five defensive linemen, and one jumped early to give the Wildcats the ball at the three. His first rush up the middle netted -2 yards, ball on the five. He kept the ball on the option for the second play for -1 yards, ball on the six. Yet when he was flushed out of the pocket on a called pass, Klein did what he does best, catching a seam and recording his 23rd rushing touchdown of the year with an Oregon defender hanging on his back. Score 15-7.
The most outstanding player so far tonight has been Meshak Williams. He has at least two tackles for losses and two more that didn’t go for more than a yard. That included two stops on the Ducks’ first possession on the second quarter that forced the game’s first three-and-out. The team as a whole has done an excellent job of bottling up the electric Kenjon Barner, although the team still needs to find a solution to stopping De’Anthony Thomas.
Injury update: OL Tavon Rooks is not expected to return tonight as several teammates have been observed offering their condolences. Fortunately, K-State’s depth at this position should mean the team is not hugely impacted by the loss. No official announcement from the team.
On K-State’s second possession of the quarter, Klein was the recipient of Oregon’s second tackle that extended about four yards out of bounds. When the announcers are expressing concern over the illegal hits that aren’t being called, it’s a sign something needs to happen. Also of note, the Wildcats have been showing a lot of pistol formation tonight. It’s not something the team has exhibited a lot this year, and has had mixed results. Oregon is still bringing five defensive linemen every play, and is backing up its linebackers. The response has been several short, quick passes and the approach has been effective. In fact, although the team has been largely ineffective running so far (averaging only 2.8 yards/carry), the Wildcats road the strategy to within the ten before settling for a field goal to pull within 10-15. Also on the play was the rare double unsportsmanlike conduct that went uncalled, as Kiko Alonso both nailed Klein with a helmet-to-helmet hit and then hit him with a forearm after the play was dead. The announcers agree – Oregon is not only playing dirty but the referees need to do a better job of recognizing it.
Oregon had another great kickoff return and K-State needed a good stop on the next possession. So K-State forces another three-and-out. Except Oregon fakes the punt! K-State picks up the runner, and he pitches it to the punter! Then K-State hits the punter! K-State ball on the 50! First play, Klein passes to Pease whose having one of his better games of the year for the first. Pease then threw a pass down the field that Chris Harper dropped as he was hit. Unsure if Hubert is being held out for a reason, but he hasn’t seen a lot of playing time. When he is in, he’s been extremely limited (10 rushes, only 2.3 yard/carry).
With the ball at the 17, K-State lined up to go for it on 4th-and-one. However, a false start pushed them back five and Anthony Cantele was brought in, but missed the 40 yard kick. Plenty of distance, but to the left. That gave Oregon the ball back with a minute to go, and Oregon jumped into a hyper-hurry up mode, going 77 yards in five plays while consuming only 46 seconds.
What you need to know: the Wildcats have 170 yards in the first half. The Ducks have 158. The opening kickoff for Oregon has been all the difference so far tonight.