Jonathan Beasley has a new highlight film to show NFL scouts.
Beasley gave a great display of the all-around ability that is now the rage among pro quarterbacks, as No. 11 Kansas State beat No. 21 Tennessee 35-21 in the Cotton Bowl today. He ran for a career-best 98 yards and a touchdown, threw for 210 yards and two TDs, and quick-kicked the ball to the 4.
Beasley’s long first-half passes to Quincy Morgan softened the Volunteers’ defensive front, then he and Josh Scobey spent the second half running all over a unit that was third-best in the nation.
The 297 yards rushing by Kansas State (11-3) were the most against Tennessee (8-4) since Nebraska had 409 in the 2000 Fiesta Bowl. Scobey ran 28 times for 147 yards, two shy of his career best.
Although Kansas State tried not thinking of this as the national championship it missed out on playing against Tennessee two years ago, the Wildcats played as if more was on the line than a fourth straight 11-win season.
The Wildcats scored first, then answered the Volunteers’ first touchdown with one 50 seconds later and another on the next drive. With Morgan hurt just before halftime, Kansas State opened the third quarter with 10 straight runs by Beasley and Scobey and produced two more touchdowns.
Beasley finished 13-of-27 for 210 yards with an interception that Tennessee’s Jabari Greer returned 78 yards for a touchdown. The senior, who redshirted as a junior two years ago when Michael Bishop was a senior, ran 17 times and was not sacked by a Tennessee defense that came in with a school-record 50.
For all his great passes and improvisational runs, Beasley might be most proud of his punt. With Kansas State facing fourth-and-8 from the Tennessee 31, he lined up under center, then pooch-kicked the ball 27 yards.
When the game ended, most of the Wildcats took a victory lap along the stands while a few others posed for pictures with a school flag at midfield.
KS Defense Has Big Day
Kansas State’s defense had a big day, too, spoiling the 6-0 record in the career of Tennessee freshman quarterback Casey Clausen.
Clausen was 7-of-25 for 120 yards, his fewest as a starter, and his three interceptions were his most. He endured stretches of 1-of-8 and 1-of-12, the second beginning after hitting David Martin for a 17-yard touchdown.
Both quarterbacks struggled early on a field covered with snow and ice and a kickoff temperature of 29. The snow looked worse than it was, though, and was mostly stomped off by halftime.
Beasley got the Wildcats going on their second drive, a 74-yard march that began with a 16-yard pass and ended with a nifty 14-yard TD run that started in a clogged backfield and turned into an easy romp.
Clausen tied the score by moving the Volunteers 96 yards in only five plays. He showed why he broke all of Peyton Manning’s freshman records, hitting Cedrick Wilson on a 39-yard pass, then found the wide-open Martin for a touchdown.
Beasley and Morgan then connected on a deep pass beyond two defensive backs. On the next drive, Beasley hit Morgan for 37 yards, then waited until the last possible second to throw a screen that Morgan easily turned into another touchdown.
Greer’s interception return with 4:13 left in the half kept the game close, but Tennessee didn’t score again until Travis Henry ran 81 yards in the final minutes.
Henry, the leading rusher in school history, had 180 yards on 17 carries.
Tennessee defensive tackle Edward Kendrick was carried off the field on a motorized cart after being injured in the fourth quarter.
Kendrick fell to the ground after being blocked by two Kansas State linemen, who hit him simultaneously from both sides.
The type and extent of the injury were not immediately known.
Kendrick was transported to Baylor Medical Center for X-rays.