October 27, 2008

Pierce logs big game against OU

Ernie Pierce entered Saturday with six catches this season. He had that many by halftime against fourth-ranked Oklahoma. Whether it was a third-down reception on a slant or a quick screen on first down, Pierce answered the call like never before in his Kansas State career. The 6-foot-4, 209-pound senior finished with a career-high 11 catches for 176 yards in the Wildcats' 58-35 loss to the Sooners. Bottom line: He was feeling it.

"I guess so, I just saw every opportunity that came," Pierce said. "I knew what coverages they were going to be in and when it was time to make the play, I just had to make it."

Pierce had 12 catches for 160 yards and three touchdowns in his 15-game career. The junior college transfer from Santa Barbara (Calif.) Community College earned one start a year ago and entered this season with starting duties, but junior Aubrey Quarles took his spot three weeks into the season.

Quarles emerged as the second-leading receiver with 30 catches for 333 yards and one touchdown. He was listed to start against Oklahoma. It didn't happen, though.

Prince just saw something in Pierce. And he let offensive coordinator Dave Brock know about it.

"In the pregame, I told Dave that all things being equal, I'd like to start Ernie," Prince said. "He's had two terrific weeks of practice. He's been focused. He's been really locked in and knows what's going on. I was watching all of the wide receivers and he was pretty poised. He's the only senior in the group and he had that composure that I've-been-there-and-done-that-before. He really hasn't because he hasn't played a lot, but he had the confidence from a non-verbal standpoint that he was going to do well. I asked Dave to start him and he did."

Pierce afterward indicated that he was unaware that he gave off that vibe.

"I was just trying to do my job," he said. "I knew I could go out and make plays, so why not go out and do it?"

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