Kansas State quarterback Alex Delton rushed for 158 yards and scored three touchdowns to help the Wildcats with a 35-17 comeback win over the UCLA Bruins at Chase Field in Phoenix. A good crowd of 32,859 fans, largely Wildcat faithful enjoyed the second half much more than the first.
Despite playing without starting quarterback Josh Rosen, the Bruins jumped out to a 17-7 first half lead. Rosen had not cleared concussion protocol, so he watched his team try to win one final game before Chip Kelly takes over at the helm next season. Interim coach Jedd Fisch said, "Josh wanted to play but since he had two concussions in November, the doctors did not want him to risk a third one." Redshirt freshmen Devon Modster took over and played a solid game, completing 21 of 34 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns."
JJ Molson connected on a 44 yard field goal to give UCLA a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter. On the final play of the quarter, Alex Delton scored his first TD, as he rambled 68 yards down the near sideline to make it 7-3 Wildcats.
UCLA scored twice as Devon Modster connected on pass plays to go up ten heading to the locker room. The first came on a 52 yard pass from Modster to Jordan Lasley and the second came on a 70 yard reception to Theo Howard. Coach Fisch said, "For Devon to step in and throw for 295 yards and two touchdowns and not throw a pick and not get sacked and be over 65 percent, I think, is a phenomenal night."
The Wildcats came out determined to change the direction of the game. The first half saw the rotation of Skylar Thompson and Alex Delton at quarterback. Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said his decision was to keep Alex Delton at QB full time in the second half. "Alex had 105 yards rushing at halftime. We’ve never had 105 yards rushing. Not that Skylar (Thompson) wasn’t doing a good job. But with Alex, we knew going in that this was something we had to be able to do, was run the ball with him. Skylar can run it as well, no doubt about that. But Alex, the proof’s in the pudding. He ran it well."
Kansas State cut the deficit to 17-14 when Delton and company bullied their way in from the six inch line. The next time the Wildcats had the ball, they took the lead 21-17, on an 8 yard pass from Delton to Dominique Heath. UCLA had limited success moving the ball, but did not threaten the K-State defense at all in the second half. Defensive MVP Denzel Goolsby, who had a fumble recovery and five tackles said, "I think in the first half we were a little sloppy with our play, maybe rusty for not playing in a month. So during halftime we tightened up a bit. We came together with the things we knew we had to correct, and just came out a little more fired up."
The Wildcats got some breathing room on the second play of the final quarter when Alex Barnes scampered up the gut of the Bruin defense from 41 yards out, to increase the lead to 28-17. Meanwhile frustration was more evident on the UCLA side as the Bruins were unable to get any rhythm going on offense. The final K-State score came with the help of three UCLA penalties, capped off with an Alex Denton 3 yard run.
There was talk that this could have been Kansas State coach Bill Snyder's last game. The 2015 inductee Hall of Fame coach, who has a career record of 210-110-1 said, "I have not decided that yet. I enjoy our fan base. They are genuinely caring people. They truly care about Kansas State."
The Wildcats end the 2017 campaign at (8-5), while the UCLA Bruins end at (6-7).
KANSAS STATE WILDCATS 35, UCLA BRUINS 17
Score by Quarters - 1 2 3 4 - T
Kansas State 7 0 14 14 - 35
UCLA 3 14 0 0 - 17
UCLA-Molson 44yd FG
KSU-Delton 68 yard run (McCane kick)
UCLA-Lasley 52 yd pass from Modster (Molson kck)
UCLA-Howard 70 yd pass from Modster (Molson kick
KSU-Delton 1 yd run (McCrane kick)
KSU-Heath 8 yd pass from Delton (McCrane kick)
KSU-Barnes 41 yd run (McCane kick)
KSU-Delton 3 yd run (McCrane kick)