MANHATTAN — Blake Lynch was lights-out last Saturday night in his Kansas State debut.
That’s fine with him, since it turns out he preferred being in the dark.
“I was pretty much into the game,” Lynch, the Wildcats’ sophomore kicker said after drilling all four of his field goal attempts in a narrow 27-24 victory over South Dakota. “And it got dark and that helped, I think.
“I couldn’t see the people in the stands and that helps a lot. I try not to look at the video board and stuff like that, just focus on the goalpost.”
Lynch’s four field goals all came in the first half and helped keep the Wildcats in the game until two fourth-quarter touchdowns finally put them over the top. He connected from 24 yards in the first quarter, then from 22, 38 and 44 in the second, kicking straight into a southerly wind.
Lynch, a 5-foot-5, 145-pound walk-on from Goddard Eisenhower High School, won the kicking job during preseason camp and passed his first test with flying colors.
But he also understood that one game does not a career make.
“I try to stay humble and not let it go to my head — stay grounded,” he said of his early success. “The second you think you’re the best or something is when you start to decline, so I just try to stay humble and stay positive.”
Quarterback Alex Delton, his roommate the past three years, wasn’t surprised in the least by Lynch’s performance.
“I’ve known he can do it all along,” Delton said. “Blake’s a great kicker, man, and a better person.
“I’ve seen Blake hit anywhere from 56 (yards) to all over the place. I’ve seen him be a legit kicker for us, so I’m confident he’s going to keep going, and hopefully we don’t need him as much because we punch it in the end zone.”
In winning the job, Lynch also won the admiration of head coach Bill Snyder, who fondly has referred to him as “little guy” and “super midget.”
“He’s fun to watch because he’s developed the ability to hit them from distance,” Snyder said last week before the opener. “Sean (Snyder, special teams coordinator) started to back him up and he kept getting them through.
“He’s back there quite a ways for a little guy. He’s fun to watch because the players love seeing him hit it through. He’ll jump up in the air and they’ll catch him.”
After a successful field goal, holder Colby Moore stretches his hand above his head for a high five, forcing Lynch to jump in the air.
“It’s fun, and everybody gets pretty hyped up and they like it,” Lynch said. “It’s a good way to celebrate, I think.”
Lynch did not grow up dreaming of field goal celebrations. As with many kickers he developed his talent on a soccer field, competing for club teams from age 3 through high school and for two years at Eisenhower before concentrating on football his junior and senior years.
“I didn’t go to a K-State game until my sophomore year, but I always watched them on TV,” Lynch said. “But the first day I kicked I was like, ‘I want to go to K-State and kick the football.’ “
Once there, it took him just one game to etch his name in the K-State record book. The four field goals were the most ever by a Wildcat kicker in his debut.
With his initial success, Lynch set a high bar going forward, but in many ways the hard part is over.
“It definitely brings my confidence up,” he said. “I just had to get that first one out of the way, so that was the biggest deal for me.
“I think after a couple of more games I’ll just get used to it and it’ll be normal.”