Sun Devils Slip Up At Holiday Bowl

Dec. 27, 2002

SAN DIEGO - The Kansas State Wildcats were saved by the Ell.

On the verge of what would have been a shocking loss, quarterback Ell Roberson rallied the sixth-ranked Wildcats with three fourth-quarter touchdowns, including a 10-yard pass to Derrick Evans with 1:15 to play for a 34-27 Holiday Bowl win over Arizona State on Friday night.

Kansas State (11-2), the highest-ranked team not in the Bowl Championship Series, was favored by 18 points.

Roberson also scored on sneaks of 2 and 1 yards in the fourth quarter to add to the Holiday Bowl's history of wild finishes. He also scored on a 32-yard run just before halftime.

Arizona State had one last shot at the upset, but Andrew Walter's desperation pass on fourth-and-15 from his 49 was knocked down inside the 5-yard line.

Kansas State trailed 20-14 entering the fourth quarter. By then, Roberson was well on his way to leading a 16-play, 65-yard drive that took 7 minutes, 13 seconds. His 2-yard plunge pulled the Wildcats into a 20-20 tie with 12:36 left in the fourth quarter, but they blew the extra point because of a low snap.

ASU needed just 1:46 to go ahead 27-20 on Walter's 10-yard misdirection screen pass to Mike Williams, when the quarterback rolled right and threw left. Walter was 6-of-8 for 78 yards on the drive.

But Roberson came back and led an 80-yard drive that he finished with 1-yard sneak for a 27-27 tie with 6:41 left.

All-American cornerback Terence Newman, used as a wide receiver, set up the winning score with a 34-yard punt return. Once a 10-yard holding penalty against K-State was marched off, the Wildcats started the winning drive on their 41.

Kansas State won its sixth straight game. It was the fifth time in six seasons the Wildcats finished with 11 wins. Arizona State (8-6) lost for the fourth time in five games.

Roberson completed 11 of 28 passes for 215 yards and one TD, and rushed 18 times for 63 yards and three scores.

Walter was 28-of-57 for 293 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception. The Wildcats had only 17 yards rushing on 26 carries.

Kansas State's Darren Sproles rushed 21 times for 118 yards and a score.

Arizona State All-American defensive end Terrell Suggs harassed Roberson for most of the first half and had two sacks, pushing his NCAA record to 24.

After a scoreless first quarter, Arizona State took off but K-State kept it close with big plays.

Walter threw a 6-yard TD pass to Justin Taplin and Mike Barth kicked a 26-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead.

The Wildcats came right back on Sproles' 41-yard scoring run, highlighted by his spin move to evade two tacklers at the line of scrimmage. The play was set up by Newman's 36-yard catch.

Two possessions later, on third-and-1 from the K-State 9, Arizona State hurried to the line of scrimmage in an attempt to surprise the Wildcats, coming out with two tight ends and a full-house backfield. Tailback Hakim Hill took the handoff and ran untouched around right end for the score and a 17-7 lead.

Sproles' fumble set up Mike Barth's 39-yard field goal for a 20-7 lead, but again K-State responded quickly.

On second-and-10 from the 32, Roberson was flushed from the pocket by Suggs, but ended up scoring, evading four defenders along the way, to pull the Wildcats to 20-14. Roberson set up the score with a 41-yard pass to Taco Wallace.

The Holiday Bowl is sponsored by Pacific Life.

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