Kansas St. 49, Tennessee Tech 7
"I just ran the ball," the 150-pound senior said after returning two kickoffs for touchdowns in Kansas State's 49-7 rout of Tennessee Tech. "The other 10 guys on the team blocked real well."
Their good blocking and his fast running made Banks just the 12th man in NCAA history to score on two kickoffs in a single game, and tied an NCAA record.
He also had 90 yards receiving and 29 yards on three punt returns for 303 all-purpose yards to rank No. 5 on Kansas State's single-game charts.
"I needed some motivation to get going. I think that did a little bit for me," Banks said.
The Golden Eagles' kick coverage unit hardly laid a hand on the shifty Banks. He had a 93-yard return following Tennessee Tech's score in the first quarter. Then he took the second-half kickoff 92 yards.
On both returns, his lanes were wide open.
"The first one he ran back, you couldn't block it any better than that," said Kansas State coach Bill Snyder. "That's what you hope for every single time. Our other 10 guys really did a nice job. The second one, he made some things happen on the return as well. I was pleased with him."
The Wildcats (2-2) held Tennessee Tech (1-2) to 107 yards of offense and led 42-7 after the third quarter. Daniel Thomas helped fuel the rout with two 1-yard touchdown runs and 142 yards rushing on 26 carries.
Thomas' 1-yard run gave Kansas State a quick lead, but Tennessee Tech answered with a seven-play, 73-yard drive capped by Lee Sweeney's 5-yard pass to Jamere Hogue. Sweeney's 38th touchdown pass tied the school career record.
But 12 seconds later, Banks crossed the goal line with his first kickoff return, the ninth-longest in school history. He picked up a couple of good blocks early in the return, then sped down the sideline, outrunning the final would-be tackler.
"As soon as I got the ball, I saw the hole open," he said. "I just used my speed and I was able to get to the end zone. It felt good."
He took the ball on the 8-yard line on the second-half kickoff, started up the middle, dodged a couple of Golden Eagles and broke clear.
"We made some mistakes in the first half with the penalties that we got, so it was important to get off to a big start in the second half," he said.
The Golden Eagles were not exactly kicking the ball with laser-like precision, said coach Watson Brown.
"We were hitting it low and could not get our coverages down the field at all," he said. "The second kickoff return was supposed to be a high, sky kick toward our boundary and we kicked it down the middle of the field."
The last player to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in a game was Brandon Breazell of UCLA on Dec. 30, 2005 against Northwestern. Both of those came on onside kicks.
"We are not going to see any better players than the ones we played against today," said Sweeney. "We played the best team we are going to see all year."
It was not all good for the Wildcats in their fourth game in Snyder's second tour as head coach. Josh Cherry missed a 36-yard field-goal attempt, making him only 1 for 6 for the season, and Kansas State was penalized 10 times for 96 yards.
An illegal chop block backed the Wildcats up to their own 4-yard line, but Banks got open over the middle and hooked up with Carson Coffman for a 64-yard catch-and-run. A few minutes later, Coffman scored on a 5-yard run for a 21-7 lead with 2:34 left in the half.
After their first-quarter touchdown, the Golden Eagles were almost completely throttled by the quicker Kansas State defense. Sweeney was sacked three times, leading to minus-19 yards in rushing.
Tennessee Tech also couldn't stop Kansas State's second-team offense. The Wildcats backups drove 60 yards in seven plays, capped by Keithen Valentine's 15-yard run.