A collapse, revival and a recovery.

Three games, three heartstoppers for the Kansas State Wildcats. Just when things looked dire with quarterback Skylar Thompson on the shelf, K-State pulled out all the stops. The offense showed some spits and sputters, though it ultimately came up with big plays.

Game-changing plays.

Deuce Vaughn came up with the game-breakers to make the difference in Kansas State’s 31-21 victory over Texas Tech. Just when it seemed Texas Tech’s offense was beginning to find room to operate with its own backup QB Henry Colombi, who got the hot hand with a supplemental assist from running back Xavier White.

Colombi began to shred K-State’s defense on third-quarter Tech drives. The Red Raiders went 88 plays in 18 plays, then answered with an 84-yard drive in just four plays. It was game on when Xavier White twice darted right up the middle, once for a 49-yard score and again for 19 yards and a first down that set up Tech’s go-ahead score. That was a 13-yard strike to Myles Price and a 21-17 advantage, the Red Raiders’ first lead of the game.

Will Howard stepped in to replace Thompson and led a scoring drive, then helped K-State produce a 14-point fourth quarter. Two plays were pivotal. First, Howard found tight end Briley Moore near the sideline, and that 66-yard connection put K-State in position for Harry Trotter’s 4-yard scamper and go-ahead score. Then came Vaughn’s biggest of big plays, a 70-yard bolt to the paint for the clincher on a short pass route out of the slot position.

Vaughn entered the season’s third game as K-State’s leading rusher with 92 yards, and by the third quarter had more than doubled that to 188 yards and added two impressive scoring runs. The final catch gave him 194 total yards (113 rush, 81 receptions). In light of Thompson’s situation, the K-State running game may need to carry more of the load with eight games remaining, including in another week at Fort Worth, and the TCU Horned Frogs.

This season must be viewed in an entirely new prism until Thompson’s injury news is updated after he left midway through the second quarter Saturday. K-State for at least one game was in good hands with Howard.

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