7:10 PM ET, August 30, 2003
Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, KS
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) -- Some teams celebrate victories by soaking the coach. No. 7 Kansas State prepared for one by soaking the ball.
All week, as temperatures soared over the 100-degree mark, Ell Roberson practiced taking snaps with a wet ball -- not to keep his hands cool, but to get ready for the wet weather predicted for the weekend.
When the rain arrived as expected -- and fell throughout Saturday night's game -- it still caused Roberson a few control problems. Even so, he ran for three touchdowns and threw for 234 yards and another score as Kansas State overcame its own mistakes for a 41-5 win over Troy State.
"It wasn't so bad on my throws downfield," Roberson said. "But on the tighter throws, where I had to grip the ball harder, it kind of got away from me sometimes."
Roberson was 9-for-23 with two interceptions and ran for 69 yards for the Wildcats (2-0), who lost star running back Darren Sproles to an apparent leg injury late in the first half.
Sproles left the game after being tackled hard by Robby Farmer at the end of a 5-yard gain. Kansas State does not release information on injuries, but Sproles appeared to be favoring his left leg as he was helped to the locker room.
"He's a tough little tank," defensive end Andrew Shull said. "I'm not worried about him at all. He'll be back, no problem."
Sproles left the game with 49 yards on 12 carries, snapping his school-record string of 100-yard games at 10. Kansas State's last game without a 100-yard rusher was a 27-20 win over Southern California on Sept. 21, 2002.
Kansas State's defense, which gave up 440 yards in last week's 42-28 win over California, held the Trojans to 138 yards in their opener -- and just 39 on the ground. The Wildcats had six sacks and two interceptions and recovered a fumble.
"It was a good effort by our defense, both players and coaches alike," coach Bill Snyder said. "It wasn't perfect, but I thought our youngsters played hard. I think they were a little embarrassed by last week."
"Their front four was really great," Leak said. "They put a lot of pressure on me. It seemed like their wasn't much that we could do."
Ted Sims blocked a punt that Danny Morris recovered at Troy State's 1 and returned for a touchdown and a 34-5 lead midway through the second quarter.
It was the third return of a blocked punt for a touchdown in Morris' career.
"Coach Snyder told us we ought to be able to get a punt tonight," Sims said. "So I guess you could say we were under orders."
All three of Roberson's rushing touchdowns came in the second quarter, after two miscues helped Troy State take an early 5-0 lead and Sproles ran for a 5-yard TD that put the Wildcats up 7-5 with 5:46 left in the first.
Roberson's TD runs of 1 yard, 10 yards and 1 yard gave Kansas State a 27-5 lead before the midpoint of the second quarter. His 57-yard scoring pass to Davin Dennis made it 41-5 early in the fourth.
Troy State went up 2-0 on Kansas State's opening possession, when Mike Wilson's snap sailed over punter Jared Brite's head and went out the back of the end zone for a safety.
Brite later had a punt partially blocked after a second high snap and had to kick on the run after a third. Still, he averaged 46 yards on five punts.
"Every punt, they had a guy lined up over the ball, and as soon as it would move he'd slap at it and make it come a little loose," Brite said. "We said something to the officials and they never called anything, so I guess it's legal."
On the Wildcats' next possession after the safety, Sproles fumbled after a 1-yard gain and Troy State's Freeman White recovered at the Kansas State 25. That set up Thomas Olmsted's 26-yard field goal.
After that, it was all Kansas State, which had four plays of more than 20 yards -- all on TD drives -- in the first half.
Roberson set up Sproles' touchdown run with passes of 36 yards to Antoine Polite and 22 yards to Brian Casey. Roberson's second TD carry came after a 37-yard pass to Jermaine Moreira, and he set up his third with a 43-yard completion to James Terry.
"He maintained plays when everything wasn't going well," said safety Rayshun Reed, who had one of Troy State's two interceptions. "We had opportunities to stop him, but we didn't make plays."