Via K-State Athletics
By: D. Scott Fritchen
AMES, Iowa – The latest nail-biting installment of the Kansas State-Iowa State rivalry, called Farmageddon, ended shortly after 9 p.m. But for a third-straight Saturday, it was 9AM for another Big 12 Conference opponent.
Adrian Martinez, adoringly called “9AM,” took a final kneel down, K-State head coach Chris Klieman pumped his fist on the visitor’s sideline, and more than 60,000 at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa, stood in silence as time ticked down on the Wildcats’ fourth-quarter comeback victory.
No. 20 K-State 10, Iowa State 9.
Martinez, who accounted for 669 total yards and nine touchdowns in wins over then-No. 6 Oklahoma (41-34) and Texas Tech (38-27), threw for 246 yards and one touchdown and added 19 carries for 77 yards, and the Wildcats’ defense, called countless times to hold down the Cyclones’ offense, stiffened again and again.
K-State led 7-6 at halftime, then trailed 9-7 on a 43-yard field goal by Jace Gilbert with 5 minutes, 27 seconds left in the third quarter.
K-State responded in handing Iowa State just its fourth home loss in the last 30 games.
Chris Tennant nailed a 30-yard field goal with 7:14 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter for the 10-9 win, the lowest-scoring game in the series since a 7-7 tie in Ames in 1984.
“We knew coming into it that they were physical and big and we knew it was going to be a fist fight,” Martinez said. “That’s exactly what it was. They made us earn every yard. We weren’t frustrated at halftime. We understood we could move the ball on these guys, and we were going to find a way to win.
“We didn’t care how we got it done. We were going to win. We knew we’d find a way.”
The defense stiffened one last time when it mattered most, giving K-State its 12th-straight victory over Iowa State when ranked in the AP Top 25.
K-State’s 10 points marked its fewest in a conference road win since a 9-3 victory at Iowa State in 1982. It marked the first time since 2016 that K-State held a Big 12 opponent to single digits on the road.
“Being behind just two points was the key and not letting them get another field goal,” Klieman said. “I didn’t know if touchdowns were going to happen. It was pretty obvious it was hard to score touchdowns. We talked all week if we could hold these guys to field goals, we thought we could beat them. I didn’t know it’d be 10-9.”
There were an abundance of big moments not necessarily seen upon the scoreboard. That included when the K-State defense forced Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell to go for it on fourth-and-7 at the K-State 49-yard line with 2:29 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The defense forced Hunter Dekkers into an incompletion, the Wildcats took possession, and they ran out of the clock. It put a stamp on the program’s first 5-1 start since 2020, and a 3-0 Big 12 record, which makes the Wildcats the only 3-0 undefeated team in the Big 12 league standings.
“We’re undefeated in Big 12 play and that’s what we want,” Martinez said. “That’s where we are right now. Everything going forward is about how can we solidify that and keep doing that and keep winning in this league. Each week is a fight.”
Iowa State dropped to 3-3 overall and is 0-3 in the Big 12 for the first time since 2016.
K-State outgained Iowa State 388 to 276 and held the Cyclones to just 5 of 15 on third downs. That the Wildcats limited Dekkers to just 198 passing yards while completing 22 of 38 passes, and limited the Cyclones to just 78 rushing yards on 24 carries underscored their outstanding performance.
Iowa State entered the game outscoring its opponents 37-7 in the fourth quarter. K-State allowed the Cyclones a field goal in the first, second and third quarters, and then finally delivered the knockout punch and held the Cyclones off the scoreboard over the final 15 minutes.
“We were just focused on getting off the field on third down,” said safety Josh Hayes, who had a team-high 11 tackles, including eight solo stops, and one pass breakup. “That was an emphasis all week long. When it came down to the wire and we really needed to make those stops, we did.”
Phillip Brooks had four catches for a career-high 119 receiving yards and Malik Knowles had five catches for 108 yards. It marked the first time K-State had two 100-yard receivers since Byron Pringle (121) and Isiah Harris (118) on September 2, 2017.
Xavier Hutchinson, the nation’s leader in receptions, had eight catches on 17 targets for 100 yards.
K-State struck first and fast, as Martinez found Brooks streaking down the field for an 81-yard catch-and-run touchdown and a 7-0 lead less than 3 minutes into the game. It was the longest K-State completion since 2017 and ended up being the only time K-State or Iowa State reached the end zone.
Martinez answered any questions as to whether the Wildcats could throw the ball if Iowa State and the nation’s eighth-ranked rushing defense took away the run. He completed 5 of 9 passes for 187 yards and one touchdown in the first half.
Although K-State had 16 carries for 48 yards on the ground in the first half, Martinez used his arm to fluster the Cyclones.
Dekkers found ever-dangerous Hutchinson and tight end DeShawn Hanika for gains of 38 and 25 yards, but the Wildcats held tough and forced a Gilbert 35-yard field goal. K-State led 7-3.
Martinez again connected with Brooks for a 21-yard connection. That gave Brooks two catches for 102 yards and one touchdown — the first 100-yard receiving game of his career. However, Iowa State clamped down and forced a punt.
Dekkers went 14 of 23 passing for 143 yards in the first half, and he led Iowa State on a monster 16-play, 69-yard drive that consumed 7:43, but the Cyclones had to settle for a 44-yard field goal early in the second quarter. K-State led 7-6.
A few moments later, K-State experienced a shocking change in momentum.
Martinez threw a pass to Knowles, who caught the ball in stride along the numbers and began his charge up field, outracing defenders as he neared the end zone. However, Iowa State safety Anthony Johnson Jr. sped up at the 1-yard line and punched the ball from Knowles’ right hand, knocking the ball into the air. Linebacker Colby Reeder recovered the ball in the middle of the end zone.
That meant that instead of Knowles scoring on a 68-yard touchdown catch, Iowa State recorded a touchback, and took possession at its own 20.
The play typified the craziness that happens in Farmageddon.
K-State fell 31-20 to the Cyclones last season. The Wildcats suffered a 45-0 shutout loss the last time they visited Ames in 2020.
However, 11 of the last 15 games in the K-State/Iowa State series have been decided by single digits.
K-State improves to 10-1 in those games and now has a bye week before traveling to face No. 17 TCU in Fort Worth, Texas.
“Even at the end of the game here in Iowa, we had a whole section of fans,” Hayes said. “The energy was great. I love being a Wildcat. It’s the best thing ever.”