K-State's D.J. Giddens finishes off a 61 catch and run in the Wildcats' win over TCU, Oct. 21, 2023.

Four players ran for more than 50 yards apiece as K-State racked up nearly 350 rushing yards as a team, part of a nearly 600 yard night in trouncing TCU 41-3.

Kansas State (5-2, 3-1) answered the question of “Who will start” with the answer of “Both” on a night that saw Will Howard and Avery Johnson rotate series throughout.

The Cats made it look easy, needing just two pass attempts to march downfield on the opening drive. K-State ripped off 75 yards in just over three minutes, including a 30 yard trot by Howard.

Howard got the start, though freshman Johnson also started…at wide receiver and the Cats opened with a jet sweep to the Big 12’s Newcomer of the Week. It went for four yards, but set an early tone.  D.J. Giddens finished off the drive with a two yard run.

After an initial first down on TCU’s first series of the night, the Cats settled in defensively and forced a punt, setting the stage for the next phase: a series run by Johnson at QB.

He and Treshaun Ward teamed up to carry the ball for 47 yards on the possession, with Ward catching a toss from Johnson for the final three yards, fighting off a defender who came in high to get to the end zone.

It was Johnson’s second completion on the drive as a 26 yarder over the top of a defender dropped into the hands of Jayce Brown who stepped out at the three.

K-State’s first two drives saw it rack up 111 yards rushing.

TCU began the following drive at the 25 and looked to be on the verge of a three and out as Desmond Purnell and Austin Moore teamed up on a sack. A deep route down the sideline drew a pass interference penalty on Will Lee, though, and it seemed to wake up the Frogs’ offense momentarily.

Emani Bailey ran for 35 yards and Josh Hoover completed a toss of 16 yards to Savion Williams to get the visitors in the red zone, but threw a trio of incompletions, leaving TCU to take three on a 32 yard field goal from Griffin Kell.

Kansas State’s ease at scoring was highlighted again as Howard threw a quick swing out to Giddens, who trotted down the far sideline untouched for a 61 yard score and a 21-3 lead. The Cats needed just three plays to go the 75 yards in 1:06 off the clock, leaving just over three minutes remaining in the first quarter.

Jacob Parrish finished off the next TCU offensive possession with a third down sack of Hoover at the 41, giving K-State a fourth possession in the first quarter, this one to be led by Johnson again at quarterback.

He again would find Brown on a 43 yard completion and run for 14 yards two plays later to put the Wildcats into the red zone, but TCU’s defense tightened up to force them into a 27 yard field goal from Chris Tennant to push the score to 24-3.

Neither team would mount a scoring drive again until the final 2:43 as Johnson would guide the Cats to within field goal range on a 10 play drive, capped by Tennant’s second field goal of the night, a 40 yard try, as the first half expired with K-State leading 27-3.

TCU came out running their “no huddle” package after halftime, driving 56 yards in 11 plays, but getting shut down on a 4th and 2 at the K-State 19. Parrish’s coverage on Williams would keep the Horned Frogs from converting, turning the ball over on downs with 10:23 to play in the 3rd quarter.

The rotation at quarterback continued for Kansas State as Howard helmed the first drive after the break. He would break free on a 20 yard carry that nearly added to the score, getting stopped at the one. A throw to tight end Garrett Oakley would be called back on a hold, but Howard would get his second TD throw of the night two plays later, connecting with Brown from 11 yards out.

The drive to build the lead to 34-3 ate up 7:53 of the quarter as K-State used 11 plays to patiently move 81 yards for the score.

The Frogs would drive to just outside the 20 of K-State territory but Purnell put an end to it with a long stretch to snare his first interception of the season, picking off Hoover at the 19.

And it was Johnson’s turn to again run the offense on a drive that would bridge the end of the third and start of the fourth periods.

The drive would show the first signs of unsteadiness for Johnson, who tried to use his legs to evade a defender bearing down on him deep in the backfield and lost 13 yards. A five yard delay of game penalty would then follow and the Cats would punt for the first time on the night with 10:45 to play.

TCU’s ensuing drive would take only 1:14 off the clock before it punted, resulting in K-State taking back over at the Horned Frogs’ 49. The Wildcats ran eight plays to tally their final score of the night, as Howard found Will Swanson for a diving catch at the goal line.

The Frogs would eat up the remainder of the clock trying to put points up, literally being turned away in the end zone on the final play as Hoover’s pass was knocked down to finish a 16 play drive and the ball game.

For the night Ward, Johnson, Giddens and Howard all ran for more than 50 yards. Ward paced the group with 89 on 17 carries, while Giddens added 85 on seven carries. The two quarterbacks finished a combined 15 of 26 for 244 yards as K-State didn’t turn the ball over for the first time this season.

Brown was the top receiver with four grabs for 88 yards.

Defensively, Parrish led the way with six tackles, five solo, as the unit didn’t allow TCU to eclipse the 100 yard rushing mark until the final possession of the night.

With Oklahoma (7-0, 4-0), Texas (6-1, 3-1) and Oklahoma State (5-2, 3-1) all winning Saturday, K-State remains in the mix for one of the top two spots in the standings with Houston visiting next Saturday at 11am. Powercat Gameday coverage on Newsradio KMAN and 101.5 KROCK will begin at 7am.

Final Stats:

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