MANHATTAN, Kansas — Jake Waters admitted that he was "gassed" after a 50-yard quarterback-keeper in the first half helped propelled No. 23 Kansas State to a rout of Texas Tech on Saturday night.
Funny word choice considering he never let up on the gas the rest of the night.
Waters wound up throwing for 290 yards and four touchdowns, ran for 105 yards and another score and paced the Wildcats' high-octane offense in a 45-13 victory.
"It seems like we were clicking so well on offense," Waters said. "I want to get like that every game. It's a special feeling when you get like that."
Tyler Lockett had 12 catches for 125 yards and two scores, and Curry Sexton had nine catches for 128 yards and the other two scores, helping the Wildcats (4-1, 2-0) prepare for a showdown in two weeks with fourth-ranked Oklahoma by easily dispatching the Red Raiders.
"Jake was pretty decent about finding the right guys tonight," said Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, who is always reticent to lavish too much praise on anyone.
Playing with a sore shoulder, Davis Webb threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns for Texas Tech (2-3, 0-2). But he also threw a career-high four interceptions — two each to Travis Green and Morgan Burns — and was victimized by numerous drops that ruined promising drives.
"We've got to continue to find a way to protect the football," Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "You never want to turn it over, no matter what the score is."
The drops weren't the only problem for the undisciplined Red Raiders, though.
One week after committing 16 penalties for 158 yards in a loss to Oklahoma State, the Big 12 leaders in yellow flags were penalized nine times for 89 yards. That pushed their total for the season to 55 penalties, among the worst in major college football.
Most of the drops and penalties were crippling, too.
On one drive late in the third quarter, with the Wildcats already leading 31-7, the Red Raiders dropped four passes in a span of five plays. The last of them occurred in the end zone and wiped out a touchdown, and Webb threw his third pick of the game on the ensuing play.
The flags may have troubled Kingsbury even more.
There was the hands-to-the-face penalty that helped Kansas State to its second touchdown, a short run by Waters early in the second quarter. There was a hold that wiped out a 21-yard pass play in the third quarter. And on one Kansas State scoring drive, Texas Tech racked up 29 yards in penalties on unsportsmanlike conduct and pass interference calls.
"We simply got out-played," Texas Tech linebacker Pete Robertson said. "We couldn't stop them and it was going back-and-forth and our offense was stuck in some bad positions. We should have stopped Kansas State on third downs and fourth downs, but we let them slip away."
Texas Tech actually had a chance to strike first, marching right down the field on the game's first possession. But on second-and-5 at the 7, Webb's pass was picked off in the end zone by Burns, who made a nifty one-handed grab to scuttle the drive.
Everything went Kansas State's way the rest of the night.
Waters hit Sexton with a 48-yard touchdown strike a few minutes later as the Kansas State offense started humming. By the time the senior quarterback hit Lockett with a 15-yard scoring strike with 21 seconds left in the first half, the lead had ballooned to 24-7.
Lockett's second TD catch came late in the third quarter, giving him 21 for his career and moving him into third place on the school's list. He also broke a tie with Jordy Nelson and Quincy Morgan and set the school mark with his 11th 100-yard receiving game.
Texas Tech kept battling into the fourth quarter, closing to within 31-13 on Webb's TD pass to Jakeem Grant. But Waters and Sexton answered with their second touchdown completion — a spectacular catch that is certain to end up on many highlight reels — and DeMarcus Robinson added a short scoring run to put the game firmly out of reach.
"I think we made huge strides today," Lockett said. "The offense just clicked."