MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Plugged up through its first two games and stripped of its offensive identity, Kansas State finally found some room to run against Massachusetts on Saturday night.
John Hubert scampered for 118 yards, Kip Daily returned one of his two interceptions for a touchdown and the Wildcats rolled to a 37-7 victory in their final tuneup before Big 12 play.
"We made it our business to be effective in the ground game," said Robert Rose, who added a 26-yard touchdown run during a big second quarter. "This is K-State. We run the ball."
That hadn't been the case in a loss to North Dakota State and a lackluster win over Louisiana-Lafayette. The Wildcats (2-1) struggled to find room against what should have been a pair of over-matched foes, and were instead forced to throw the ball all over the yard.
On Saturday night, they were finally able to use the passing game to offset the run.
Jake Waters threw for 115 yards and two touchdowns, and backup Daniel Sams completed the only two passes he threw. That opened things up for the ground game, which piled up 329 yards.
"You go into the game with the idea that you want some balance with what you do, and defenses dictate which direction you go, and that was true tonight," Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said.
"After the first drive, we had some opportunities to have some success running the ball."
A.J. Doyle threw for 186 yards for the Minutemen (0-3), getting the start at quarterback in place of fellow sophomore Mike Wegzyn. Tajae Sharpe caught nine passes for 98 yards, and Stacey Bedell ran for 81 yards and their only touchdown.
"That was definitely a very, very good football team that we played," UMass coach Charley Molnar said. "It's not a juggernaut, but it's really good. We knew we needed to play a perfect game in order to hang with these guys."
In reality, things went askew right from the start.
Daily stepped in front of Doyle's second pass of the game, picked it off and returned it 38 yards for a score. It was the second straight week Kansas State returned an interception for a TD.
UMass settled down and answered with a 16-play, 77-yard drive that chewed up most of the first quarter, but it ended with a blocked field goal — another strike against perfection. Eventually, the Minutemen got the ball back again and Bedell's touchdown run gave them a 7-6 lead, silencing a festive crowd of 52,958 — the sixth biggest in school history.
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