Kansas State dominates short-handed LSU in Texas Bowl

LSU safety Todd Harris Jr. causes Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn to stop and turn.
LSU safety Todd Harris Jr. causes Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn to stop and turn during the first half of the Texas Bowl on Tuesday in Houston.
(Michael Wyke / Associated Press)

Deuce Vaughn and the Kansas State Wildcats finished a streaky season on a positive note Tuesday night with a dominant 42-20 win over short-handed Louisiana State in the Texas Bowl.

Vaughn, a sophomore running back and first-team All-American as an all-purpose player, rushed for 146 yards in 21 carries. He scored four touchdowns — three rushing and one receiving.

Kansas State (8-5) also got a strong performance from quarterback Skylar Thompson, who returned to make his final collegiate start after missing the regular-season finale with an ankle injury.


Thompson completed 21 of 28 passes for 259 yards and three touchdowns. Malik Knowles had two touchdown catches and 42 yards receiving.

While LSU (6-7) had a tough time slowing Vaughn and Thompson, the Tigers had another uphill battle on offense.

With starting quarterback Max Johnson having transferred to Texas A&M, backup Myles Brennan recovering from surgery and a third-string freshman that would have had to burn his redshirt to play, LSU entered the game with a big question mark under center.

The Tigers turned to senior receiver Jontre Kirklin, who hadn’t played quarterback since high school in 2016. Kirklin had played in only 25 games over five seasons, including his first two years as a cornerback.

The Tigers didn’t get a first down until late in the second quarter. By that time, Kansas State already had 12 first downs and a 21-0 lead. LSU later scored on that drive, though, a 23-yard touchdown catch by Jaray Jenkins.

Kirklin was seven for 11 passing for 138 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions while also rushing for 61 yards in 11 carries. He delivered an 81-yard touchdown pass to Chris Hilton Jr. as time expired.


The Tigers were led by interim coach Brad Davis, the offensive line coach who was filling in between the transition from Ed Orgeron to former Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. LSU announced in December that Davis would be returning to Kelly’s staff as the offensive line coach.

Kansas State appeared to have a slight edge in the makeup of the crowd, despite Baton Rouge, La., being nearly 500 miles closer to Houston than Manhattan, Kan.

The Wildcats led 21-7 at halftime.

Kansas State enjoyed its most lopsided win over an Southeastern Conference opponent in school history, improving to 5-17 against the conference.