KSU spring game ends in tie
By ARNE GREEN
Special to The Hays Daily News
MANHATTAN -- It was a harsh lesson on an otherwise meaningless afternoon, but also a testament to Bill Snyder's mastery as a scoreboard manipulator.
Collin Klein completed 47 of his first 55 passes for 480 yards and six touchdowns, only to go to the well once too often.
Looking for a potential winning touchdown in the front right corner of the end zone, Klein saw his final attempt end up in the hands of White team safety Weston Hiebert with 32 seconds left Saturday, preserving a 42-42 tie in Kansas State's Purple-White spring game at Snyder Family Stadium.
"That was my mistake," Snyder said of the decision to go for a late touchdown with the score tied and the Purple in control at the White 15-yard line. "We could have centered the ball up, kicked a field goal and let the Purple win it, but I got greedy."
Of course, upon closer examination, the Purple -- consisting of the No. 1 offense and defense -- actually dominated the White backups 77-7. Only the fact that Snyder again reversed the 35-0 halftime score, made it competitive in the first place.
Klein, allowed to call his own plays, led the Purple to the end zone on all five first-half possessions. And after sputtering on the first two series of the second half, he engineered another onslaught that was interrupted only by DeMarcus Robinson's 95-yard kickoff return touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
"It's kind of a weird feeling, coming out (at halftime) and be like, 'Wait a sec, I thought we were playing pretty good,' " Klein said with a laugh, referring to the scoreboard reversal. "And of course it's a great exercise.
"I think it took us a second to kind of settle in and be like, 'OK, we've got a long way to go.' Then we kind of settled down and started executing again."
That is until the last fateful drive.
After the Purple finally caught back up on Klein's 6-yard touchdown strike to Tramaine Thompson and a two-point conversion pass to Robert Rose with 2:24 left, the defense quickly forced a White punt.
The Purple got the ball back at the White 45-yard line with 57 seconds to go, picked up 12 yards on a Klein run, 6 more on a completion to Curry Sexton and 12 on Angelo Pease's run to the 15.
Instead of lining up the field goal -- at Snyder's direction -- Klein looked for Sexton, only to have Hiebert step in front for the pick that effectively secured the tie.
"We couldn't pull it out," said senior wide receiver Chris Harper, who was the recipient of 13 Klein passes for 72 yards and two touchdowns.
Klein chalked it up to experience.
"It was on me," Klein said. "It was a fine decision by (Snyder).
"I've just got to protect the ball. We made a mistake and it cost us, but it's maybe a part of the learning process too, and that's one less mistake we make in the fall."
Klein, who also rushed five times for 49 yards, giving him 529 in total offense, got high marks from Snyder in his second spring start for the Purple.
"I thought he played a little better in the first half than he did in the second half, not even counting the interception," Snyder said. "He threw the ball well, handled the offense and handled called his own offense."
Klein, who did not take any hits -- all quarterbacks were ruled down by touch -- had plenty of help from an offensive line that did not allow a sack, not to mention a variety of running backs and receivers.
The Purple finished with 738 yards total offense to 54 for the White. In addition to Harper, Thompson caught nine passes for 147 yards and a touchdown and Sexton eight for 153 and two scores.
Pease was the leading rusher with 89 yards on 12 attempts, followed by Robert Rose with 84 on 10 carries. Fullback Braden Wilson, a Smith Center native, ran 1 yard for a touchdown and caught a 10-yard pass for another.
Defensively, the Purple dominated, holding the White to minus-10 yards rushing and three first downs. Freshman Tavarius Bender started at quarterback for the White, but gave way to redshirt freshman Daniel Sams after one quarter.
Linebacker Tre Walker led the Purple defense with 10 tackles, while tackle Vai Lutui had seven stops and three sacks. Meshak Williams added five tackles and three sacks.
"I felt like we made some strides," Walker said of the defense's progress this spring. "But there's a lot of work to be done."
Snyder was happy with the starters' performance.
"Obviously the Purple defense played well against the White offense," he said.