College Football

K-State rebounds from sluggish start to defeat UCLA in the 29th Annual Cactus Bowl


PHOENIX, ARIZ (December 26, 2017) – Kansas State quarterback Alex Denton provided a much-needed spark for the Wildcats. Denton rushed for three touchdowns and passed for another to help defeat the UCLA Bruins 35-17 in the Cactus Bowl.

Down 17-7 with six minutes left in the third quarter, Denton’s forward progress touchdown from the one-yard line was the life-line the Wildcats needed to get back into the game. UCLA fumbled the ball on their next possession, giving the ball back to K-State on the Bruins’ 24-yard line. Denton completed an 8-yard touchdown pass to Dominque Heath to put the Wildcats up for good.

The Bruins scored the game’s first points on a 44-yard field goal by JJ Molson with a minute left in the first quarter. Denton, in relief of Thompson, ran 68 yards on second down to put the Wildcats up 7-3 at the end of the quarter.

UCLA’s Devon Modster, who started the game at quarterback in place of injured Josh Rosen, threw for 182 yards and two touchdowns in the second quarter to help the Bruins lead at halftime 17-7. Both touchdowns were big plays for UCLA: a 52-yard pass to Jordan Lasley and a 70-yard pass to Theo Howard with 46 seconds left in the half.

While evenly matched on paper, the Bruins held the lead and the momentum.

The Bruins received the second half kickoff but was forced to punt. K-State then drove 74 yards in eight plays to score on a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line by Denton. Replays seemed to show Denton’s forward progress was stopped short of the goal line, but the officials did not whistle the play dead right away. This delay allowed Denton to push over the goal line for the score.

The Bruins seemed to lose their momentum their very next play. UCLA’s Bo Olorunfunmi fumbled the first-down possession, allowing K-State to recover the football on the Bruins’ 24-yard line. Five plays later, Denton connected with Heath for the touchdown to put the Wildcats up 21-17.

The Wildcats’ Alex Barnes added a 41-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, followed by Denton’s third rushing touchdown from three yards out with 4:34 left in the game.

UCLA finishes the year 6-7. The Bruins look forward to the Chip Kelly era.

Kansas State finishes the year 8-5.

This is a developing story.