MANHATTAN, Kan. –- Darren Sproles might be as purple as his fans after all those yards.
Sproles, Kansas State’s junior running back, had 273 yards rushing against Missouri to set a game school record. Mike Lawrence held the record with 252 yards.
Sproles had two touchdowns and 186 yards in the first half to lead Kansas State’s commanding performance. He had 12 runs of 10 yards or more, and his longest carry was 22 yards.
After he had carried the ball several times, Sproles said he didn’t think about records, he thought about running.
“I’m just in a zone at that time,” Sproles said. “I’m running, and I don’t hear anything. I’m just going at that time.”
Kansas State stayed with what worked, carrying the ball 69 times compared with quarterback Ell Roberson’s 16 pass attempts.
The purple-clad fans nearly filling KSU Stadium might have gotten tired of hearing, “Carry by No. 43, Sproles” over the intercom. He carried the ball 43 times and had two receptions.
“We always like to have balance but we learned a long time ago to do what they allow you to do,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. “We were successful running the ball, and we just wanted to continue doing what they were allowing us to do.”
Sproles was the dominant factor. The Wildcats sent him on the same up-the-middle play numerous times.
Although Missouri knew Sproles was going to get the ball, it could find no way to stop him.
“He’s a great athlete, great quickness, and their offensive line blocked well,” MU coach Gary Pinkel said.
MU defensive tackle Atiyyah Ellison said Sproles’ small stature, 5 feet 7, did not factor into the defense’s inability to stop him.
“He’s a good athlete, and he’s good at making us miss,” Ellison said. “He has some speed too, we just needed to wrap up better. If we’d wrapped up period, he wouldn’t have been able to run.”
Sproles had three separate runs for more than 10 yards in the Wildcats’ second-quarter scoring drive that put them up 21-7.
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said Sproles’ play was as special to him as the Wildcats’ five-game winning streak and Big 12 Conference North Division championship that they clinched Saturday.
“I thought his performance was excellent, and the offensive line played great,” Snyder said. “I was proud of Darren and I think he could have even played better. He is quite a player.”
MU saw no faults in Sproles’ running attack, Missouri cornerback Calvin Washington said.
“Everybody has their weakness,” Washington said. “In Sproles, it’s kind of hard to find one in him.”