March 29, 2023

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Okay-State early lead sours in Sugar Bowl loss to Alabama

Kansas State Wildcats fall to No. 5 Alabama within the Sugar Bowl 45-20. (Elizabeth Sandstrom | Collegian Media Group)

The Huge 12 Champion Kansas State Wildcats went up towards the highly-touted Alabama Crimson Tide within the Sugar Bowl, dropping 45-20. Quarterback Bryce Younger’s efficiency led the Crimson Tide, throwing for 321 yards with 5 touchdowns.

Though finally falling, the Wildcats took the early momentum. Even after a primary drive interception throw from quarterback Will Howard caught by Alabama security Jordan Battle, Okay-State nonetheless held the early benefit.

Punter/kicker Ty Zentner scored the primary factors of the sport with a discipline purpose with 6:17 remaining within the first quarter. After a defensive cease, Zentner was shortly adopted by operating again Deuce Vaughn who ran for an 88-yard landing — the second longest run in Sugar Bowl historical past — to provide Okay-State a 10-0 lead.

“That’s all blocking,” Vaughn mentioned. “It was nice blocking not solely by the o-line however down discipline by the receivers.” 

The Okay-State protection compelled Alabama to a third-and-10 play on their subsequent drive. Younger waited patiently within the pocket and finally discovered operating again Jahmyr Gibbs for a 60-yard catch resulting in a landing. The Crimson Tide shortly took its first lead after Younger hit large receiver Jermaine Burton for a 47-yard play and tight finish Cameron Latu for a 1-yard rating.

The following Okay-State drive could be the sport definer. The Wildcats took over 10 and a half minutes, changing two fourth down performs, resulting in a fourth-and-goal on the 2-yard line. The play failed as Howard tried to connect with tight finish Ben Sinnott on a throw close to the precise pylon.

“I’d had carried out it once more,” Wildcat head coach Chris Klieman mentioned. “We’re in assault mode from the beginning.”

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“We knew we have been going for it, fourth down within the pink zone,” Howard mentioned. “We got here right here to win and discipline targets don’t win video games. … That one damage, need that one, however you already know, gotta study from it.”

Okay-State misplaced its probability to regain management, and the Crimson Tide continued its momentum-snatching methods. In lower than a minute, Younger once more led a drive delivering a number of high-level throws, capping off the drive with a 12-yard landing to take a 21-10 lead into half.

“It’s all the time robust however it’s important to all the time keep within the combat,” Vaughn mentioned on dropping the lead and momentum.

The second half continued the brand new pattern as Alabama would rating twice within the first two minutes of the half resulting from a failed onside kick and an interception.

“We’ve labored these kicks each week all 12 months lengthy,” Klieman mentioned. “We additionally knew we needed to take some probabilities. … We got here right here to win.”

The 35 unanswered factors from the Crimson Tide all however put the sport away. 

Okay-State ended the bleeding with one other Zentner discipline purpose however couldn’t minimize the lead any shorter. The sport ended as Alabama have been topped the 2022 Sugar Bowl champions.

Howard completed the sport finishing 51% of his passes for 210 passing yards and two interceptions. Vaughn completed the day with 133 dashing yards on 22 carries.

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“The muse that has been set by this group, this 2022 group is one thing that’s going to be felt for years to come back,” Vaughn mentioned.

Okay-State finishes the season with a 10-4 file complete with an 8-2 convention file and a Huge 12 Championship.

“My time’s up at Kansas State. It’s such a particular place with so many particular individuals” sixth-year senior nostril guard Eli Huggins mentioned. “It’s a spot I maintain close to and pricey to my coronary heart without end.”