MANHATTAN — Just when it appeared Kansas State would come out of its season opener alive, Arkansas State had other ideas.
The Red Wolves drove 65 yards to score on Layne Hatcher's 17-yard pass to Jonathan Adams with 38 seconds left Saturday and claim a 35-31 victory at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
K-State had gone ahead, 31-28, on Blake Lynch's 35-yard field goal with 2:30 left, but Arkansas State quickly moved the ball down the field and won it on Adams' third touchdown reception.
Arkansas State (1-1) had 489 yards total offense, including 330 through the air, to 374 total yards for K-State. Red Wolves quarterbacks Hatcher and Logan Bonner combined to go 23 for 36 for 265 yards, while Adams had eight catches for 98 yards. Running Back Jamal Jones finished with 95 yards on the ground.
For K-State, Thompson was 17 of 29 passing for 259 yards and two touchdowns. True freshman Deuce Vaughn was the leading rusher with 47 yards.
The Wildcats had surrendered the lead early in the fourth quarter, but got it back on Lynch's first successful field goal in three tries.
After tying the game at 28 with 6:35 left, the K-State got a three-and-out defensively, then went 47 yards to the Arkansas State 17 before Thompson's third-down run came up 2 yards short. Thompson had a 24-yard completion to Sammy Wheeler on the drive, and a pass interference call resulted in another first down on the drive.
Leading by a touchdown in the fourth quarter, Arkansas State let K-State off the hook after pinning the Wildcats back deep on a botched center snap. On second down and 33, Noel Iwuchukwu was called for roughing the passer, giving the Wildcats a first down.
Thompson the kept the drive alive from his own 45-yard line with a 4-yard, fourth-down completion to Briley Moore. Harry Trotter covered the final 29 yards with runs of 24 and 5 for the touchdown that tied it at 28 with 6:35 to go.
Arkansas State resorted to trickery to set up a go-ahead touchdown for its first lead with 11:49 left. Even though K-State played for a fake punt, Ryan Henington was called for pass interference to give the Red Wolves a first down at the Wildcat 22.
On the next play, the Red Wolves faked an end around, with Rashauud Paul hitting quarterback Bonner on a 17-yard pass play to the 5. Bonner then found Adams for the touchdown to make it 28-21.
Arkansas State tied the game at 21 with 2:28 left in the third quarter when backup quarterback Hatcher found tight end Giles Amos on a jump pass up the middle for 8 yards. The scoring drive covered 77 yards in five plays and included a 58-yard run from Lincoln Pare.
Kansas State used three big defensive plays and an opportunistic offense to lead 21-14 at halftime.
The Wildcats' first two touchdowns were set up a blocked punt and interception by Will Jones, while Wayne Jones' fumble recovery at the K-State 11 stalled an Arkansas State drive with 1:26 left in the half.
Will Jones' punt block gave K-State possession at the Arkansas State 19-yard line after the defense forced a three-and-out to start the game. Two plays later, Thompson perfectly led Phillip Brooks to the right side of the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown.
But Arkansas State answered immediately with a nine-play, 75-yard drive, scoring on a 3-yard pass from Bonner to Adams. Adams appeared to score on a one-handed grab on the play before, but the call was overturned, though Will Jones was flagged for pass interference, setting up the touchdown.
Jones' interception with 2:16 left in the opening quarter again gave K-State a short field, setting up a 49-yard drive capped by true freshman Deuce Vaughn's 3-yard touchdown burst up the middle. Vaughn also picked up 24 yards on a screen pass to open the drive.
Malik Knowles' leaping, one-handed grab of an errant Thompson pass that went for 27 yards put the Wildcats in position to grab a 21-7 advantage on Thompson's 7-yard strike to graduate transfer Moore with 6:50 to go in the half. Thompson also connected with Chabastin Taylor for 42 yards on the 92-yard drive.
Arkansas State got right back in it on the next possession with a trick play, as Layne Hatcher throws a backward pass to receiver Jeff Forman, who heaves a 48-yard scoring strike to wide-open Paul.
The Red Wolves had another scoring opportunity right before halftime, but Bonner fumbled and Wayne Jones recovered.
Arkansas State outgained K-State in the half, 222 yards to 202, including 163 yards through the air, as Bonner was 9 of 15 for 105 yards and Hatcher 2 for 2. Thompson was 7 of 12 for 143 yards for K-State