2:10 PM ET, October 12, 2002
Bill Snyder Stadium, MANHATTAN, KS
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) -- Ell Roberson won the starting quarterback job with his legs. He's holding onto it with his throwing arm.
"I said this a long time ago: Ell has made tremendous improvements over last year in throwing the ball,'' Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said Saturday after Roberson threw two long touchdown passes and ran for two more scores as the Wildcats (No. 23 ESPN/No. 19 AP) won 44-9 over Oklahoma State.
Kansas State quarterback Ell Roberson gets past Oklahoma State's Kevin Williams to score in the fourth quarter.
Roberson's touchdown runs covered 1 yard in the third quarter and 10 yards in the fourth. His TD passes went for 36 yards in the first quarter to Taco Wallace, who finished with 101 yards on four catches, and 47 yards to James Terry for the Wildcats' final score.
Wallace's touchdown catch was impressive. He made a leaping grab in double coverage, then sprinted the final 10 yards for a 12-0 lead.
"I told (the receivers) before the game, 'If you run the routes well, I'll get it to you,' '' Roberson said. "They made some great catches.''
Roberson completed 9 of 17 passes for 202 yards and an interception and ran for 96 yards on 17 carries before being lifted for former starter Marc Dunn midway through the fourth quarter.
Roberson won the starting job from Dunn in the Wildcats' 27-20 win over then-No. 11 Southern California three weeks ago.
Darren Sproles rushed for 130 yards on 18 carries for Kansas State (5-1, 1-1 Big 12), including a juking, twisting 38-yard TD run in the first quarter for a 6-0 lead.
A week after giving up 483 yards in a 35-31 loss at Colorado, the Wildcats were solid on defense and occasionally spectacular on offense against the Cowboys (2-4, 0-2).
Kansas State held Oklahoma State to 184 yards, sacked Josh Fields three times and forced five turnovers, including two interceptions -- both leading to touchdowns -- by linebacker Bryan Hickman.
The Wildcats also knocked Seymore Shaw, Oklahoma State's starting tailback, out of the game with a broken ankle.
"That really changed the course of the game offensively,'' Cowboys coach Les Miles said. "We felt like we were going to have every opportunity to compete for a win.''
Both of Hickman's interceptions came against Fields, who finished 15-for-38 with two interceptions and one touchdown. Backup Aso Pogi threw two interceptions in the closing minutes.
But while the Wildcats' offense produced 499 total yards and four touchdown plays of 27 yards or more, Kansas State also had four turnovers and failed to convert after five of its seven touchdowns.
Joe Rheem had two of his four extra-point attempts blocked, with Oklahoma State's Darrent Williams returning one of the blocks for a two-point defensive conversion. Jared Brite had his only conversion kick blocked, and Kansas State also came up short on both of its 2-point tries.
"We're not going to fire all of our kickers, because we don't have that many left,'' Snyder said. "We've also proved we can't go for 2 and make it.''
Part of the problem, Rheem said, is adjusting to KSU Stadium's new artificial surface.
"I'm hitting the ground behind the ball,'' he said. "When you do that on this new stuff, your foot just sticks.''
A flurry of plays late in the second quarter, en route to the Wildcats' 25-9 halftime lead, summed up Kansas State's uneven day on offense and special teams.
Roberson threw an interception to the Cowboys' Terrence Robinson at the Oklahoma State 20, but two plays after that Hickman intercepted Fields' pass and returned it to the 4, setting up Ayo Saba's 4-yard TD run for an 18-7 lead.
Rheem's conversion attempt was blocked by LaWaylon Brown, and Williams returned it the length of the field to cut the margin to 18-9.
Travis Wilson recovered Brite's ensuing pooch kick for the Wildcats at Oklahoma State's 35, and a roughing-the-passer penalty gave Kansas State a first down at the 20. Thomas Hill caught Roberson's pass but fumbled after a 7-yard gain, and Elbert Craig recovered for the Cowboys at his own 7.
Danny Morris had a 13-yard TD run for Kansas State late in the first half.
Fields threw 27 yards to Rashaun Woods in the second quarter for Oklahoma State's only touchdown, cutting Kansas State's lead to 12-7.