Kansas State scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to escape an upset bid by South Dakota with a 27-24 victory Saturday night at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kan.
Isaiah Zuber scored both the late touchdowns for the Wildcats (1-0).
South Dakota (0-1), out of the FCS, was trying to defeat an FBS team for the second straight season (Minnesota). The Coyotes are now 0-5 against Kansas State.
The Wildcats outgained South Dakota 408-334, but mistakes nearly derailed their chances. They had 13 penalties for 129 yards and lost the turnover battle 4-0.
South Dakota scored 14 points in 20 seconds at the end of the first half to take a 24-12 halftime lead.
Kansas State could muster no offense in the third quarter, amassing just 38 yards in 16 plays. Even when things appeared to go well, they didn’t. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Skylar Thompson hit Dalton Schoen in stride with a pass at the South Dakota 20, but Schoen bobbled the ball and it was intercepted by Phillip Powell.
But Zuber returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown with 12:12 left in the game to cut the lead to 24-19. It was the 112th non-offensive touchdown for K-State since 1999, the most in college football.
Zuber then caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Thompson in the back of the end zone to give the Wildcats the lead with 7:21 left. A two-point conversion was converted by Alex Barnes for a 27-24 advantage.
Austin Simmons, in his first collegiate start, was 24-of-56 passing for 257 yards and a touchdown for the Coyotes. His primary receiver was Levi Falck, who caught 11 passes for 140 yards.
The teams traded first-quarter field goals before Simmons scored the first touchdown on a 2-yard scamper to give the Coyotes a 10-3 lead.
Following three more Blake Lynch field goals that gave Kansas State a 12-10 lead, the Wildcats appeared to grab control on an interception by Eli Walker. But Walter Neil was called for pass interference on the play. Walker then was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for spiking the ball, giving the Coyotes 30 yards in penalty yardage to the K-State 44.
Two plays later, Simmons hit Dakarai Allen with a 7-yard touchdown pass. On the next play, Alex Delton was intercepted by Alex Gray, who returned it 25 yards for a touchdown and a 24-12 halftime lead for South Dakota.
The Wildcats were hurt by two first-half turnovers and a penalty that nullified a 95-yard punt return by Duke Shelley.
—Field Level Media