Delton runs wild as Kansas State flattens UCLA
PHOENIX — UCLA’s Josh Rosen was expected to be the headline quarterback in the Cactus Bowl.
Instead, Kansas State reserve Alex Delton made the game all his.
Delton rushed for a school bowl-record 158 yards and accounted for four touchdowns in the Wildcats’ 35-17 victory over the Rosen-less Bruins in the 29th annual Cactus Bowl on Tuesday at Chase Field.
“Coach told me there was a potential to get a lot of reps this game, and when my number was called, I feel like I took advantage of it,” Delton said.
Delton had a 68-yard touchdown run on his first play after entering late in the first quarter. He added a 1-yard TD run late in the third quarter and completed the scoring with a 3-yard run to cap a 98-yard drive with 4:34 remaining.
Delton’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Dominique Heath in the third quarter gave the Wildcats (8-5) a 17-14 lead as they outscored the Bruins 28-0 in the second half.
Delton, who had not played in the final three regular-season games, replaced starter Skylar Thompson for good on the final series of the first half. He helped the Wildcats win consecutive bowl games for the first time in 17 seasons.
“We knew going in that was something we were going to have to be able to do, run the ball with him,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. “The proof is in the pudding, and he ran it well.”
Alex Barnes rushed for 117 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown on 12 carries for the Wildcats, who gained a school bowl-record 344 yards on 49 carries. Kansas State attempted 17 passes, only seven in the second half.
UCLA entered the night allowing an average of 282 yards rushing per game.
Bruins redshirt freshman Devon Modster completed 21 of 34 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns while making his second career start in place of Rosen, who set a school record with 3,756 yards passing this season.
Rosen took part in pregame warmups up but was not cleared to play after failing to pass the concussion protocol. He sustained his second concussion of the season in the regular-season finale against California.
“I want to be clear on this: Josh wanted to play,” UCLA interim head coach Jedd Fisch said. “Josh was unable to play because of the fact that he had two concussions within a four-week span in November, and our physicians didn’t feel comfortable putting him out there and putting him at risk for a possibility of a third concussion.”
Modster completed 30 of 45 passes for 376 yards while appearing in five regular-season games this year. He was 8 of 12 for 103 yards and a touchdown in his lone start, a 48-17 loss at Utah on Nov. 3.
“I was just kind of preparing the whole bowl week, as if I was a starter because we weren’t sure,” Modster said. “Josh was great on the sideline. He has good eyes. He really helped me out a lot today.”
Jordan Lasley caught eight passes for 128 yards and a touchdown, and Theo Howard caught eight for 119 and a touchdown for the Bruins (6-7).
UCLA led 3-0 after JJ Molson’s 44-yard field goal with a minute left in the first quarter, but Delton answered with his 68-yard touchdown run two plays later as the quarter expired.
Modster threw quick-strike touchdown passes on the Bruins’ next two possession to make it 17-7 at halftime.
Lasley took a short pass in the left flat 52 yards for a touchdown to cap an 86-yard drive for a 10-7 lead with 11:34 left in the second quarter.
Modster hit a wide-open Howard deep down the middle on a 70-yard scoring pass two minutes later for a 10-point lead before things changed dramatically in the second half.
NOTES: UCLA QB Josh Rosen went to midfield for the pregame coin toss wearing a hoodie over his game jersey in what could be his final step on a college field. “Yeah, he’s NFL-ready,” UCLA interim coach Jedd Fisch said. “And I think everybody can use another year of college.” ... Kansas State coach Bill Snyder was noncommittal regarding speculation that this would be his last game. “That hasn’t been decided yet,” Snyder said. ... Kansas State made its eighth consecutive bowl appearance, a streak that is tied for 13th in the FBS. ... UCLA LB Kenny Young, who made his 42nd career start, wears No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson. He will be the last player to do so as the Bruins have retired the number in all sports.