Wildcats Win Poptart Bowl

By Jayson Henderson

Orlando, FL – In the conclusion to the 2023 season, No. 25 Kansas State emerged victorious against No. 18 NC State in the Pop-Tarts Bowl at Camping World Stadium. The Wildcats secured a 28-19 victory, with plays from quarterback Avery Johnson in his collegiate debut and a crucial final scoring drive contributing to the team’s overall performance.

Johnson, the 19-year-old from Wichita, Kansas, lived up to his billing as the nation’s top-rated dual-threat quarterback. In his first collegiate start, he threw for 178 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for another score. Running back DJ Giddens complemented Johnson’s efforts with 152 rushing yards and one touchdown.

Head coach Chris Klieman expressed confidence in the team’s future, especially with Johnson at the helm. K-State sealed a third consecutive nine-win season, and Klieman emphasized the talent and maturity displayed by Johnson throughout the game.

The pivotal moment came in the fourth quarter when K-State, holding a slim 21-19 lead, orchestrated a 15-play, 72-yard drive that consumed nearly eight minutes. Johnson’s poise and decision-making were on full display as he led the Wildcats to a touchdown pass to Jayce Brown, securing a comfortable lead.

Despite an effort from NC State, their five-game winning streak came to an end, falling short of a second 10-win season in program history.

The Pop-Tarts Bowl marked the end of a season for Kansas State and set the stage for a 2024 campaign with Avery Johnson leading the charge.

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