MANHATTAN — Skylar Thompson had a simple message this past week for his Kansas State teammates, many of whom were still stinging from the whipping delivered by Mississippi State.
“The season’s not over,” Thompson said.
On Saturday, Thompson and the Wildcats did their best to start anew.
Thompson accounted for three touchdowns, Isaiah Zuber registered 144 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns, and backup quarterback Alex Delton fired a perfect scoring strike of his own as the Wildcats steadily pulled away for a 41-17 victory against Texas-San Antonio at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
While Thompson once again shared QB duties with Delton and also lost a fumble to mar an otherwise stellar performance, he now seems firmly entrenched as the Wildcats' starter after throwing for 213 yards and rushing for 66 more. He completed first-half scoring strikes of 42 yards to Dalton Schoen and 23 yards to Zuber, then authored a 27-yard, third-quarter touchdown run that included a nifty juke of UTSA safety C.J. Levine.
Thompson, who finished 13 of 18 passing, gave way to Delton after losing his fumble midway through the third quarter when he held the ball too long while looking for a receiver.
Delton took advantage of his opportunity almost immediately, hitting Zuber in stride along the left sideline for a 72-yard score that pushed K-State's lead to 41-7.
Zuber finished with seven grabs for an average of 20.6 yards per reception.
K-State led just 10-7 midway through the second quarter but separated from UTSA by scoring 17 straight points during the final seven minutes of the opening half.
Thompson woke up the home crowd with a beautiful 42-yard scoring toss over the shoulder of Schoen, who was streaking down the right side. The scoring strike, Thompson's 10th completion in 14 attempts, hiked K-State's lead to 17-7 with 6:59 left in the second quarter.
Blake Lynch added his second field goal of the day, a 42-yarder, with 43 seconds remaining in the half to pad K-State's lead to 20-7, and the Wildcats got the ball back nine seconds later when Joe Davies forced UTSA quarterback D.J. Gillins to fumble. K-State's Kendall Adams recovered to set K-State up at the UTSA 34-yard line.
Thompson wasted little time before making the visitors pay. He scrambled 11 yards on the first play after the fumble, then found Zuber for a 23-yard TD and 27-7 lead. Zuber was wide open as UTSA cornerback Avery Jackson stumbled and fell following Zuber's initial move at the line of scrimmage.
The play capped a stellar opening half for Thompson, who had all of his passing attempts in the first two quarters. Zuber caught six of his passes for 72 yards in the half.
K-State's first touchdown came on its opening drive as Alex Barnes' 3-yard run at the 10:48 mark of the first quarter capped a 78-yard march that took 10 plays and just over four minutes. More importantly, it gave the Wildcats their first first-half TD of the season.
Thompson was 4 for 4 passing on the drive, including a 37-yard toss down the left sideline to Zach Reuter.
UTSA's lone touchdown of the opening half came midway through the first quarter when starting quarterback Cordale Grundy found an open Halen Steward out of the backfield for a 2-yard score just beyond the right pylon.
The Roadrunners tacked on 10 points in the game's final 5:16, getting a 37-yard field goal from Jared Sackett and a 10-yard TD pass from Gillens to Greg Campbell Jr. with 3:35 to play. Gillens' throw was preceded by a Delton fumble deep in his own territory on a third-and-5 play.
With the win, K-State finished the nonconference portion of its schedule 2-1 for the fifth time in six seasons.