Neither the Wildcats nor the Cowboys looked like teams who have recently put up more than 40 points per game. The game was tied 7-7 at the end of the half, but Oklahoma State got up and never relinquished its lead, ultimately winning 24-14.
In the first quarter, the offensive performances of both K-State and Oklahoma State effectively squelched all expectations for a shootout. At the end of the period, the scoreboard looked the same as it did at the beginning of the game: 0-0. K-State punter Ryan Doerr saw lots of action, booting the ball three times in the opening quarter. The Wildcats had 33 yards of offense and a single first down in those initial 15 minutes. Conversely, the Cowboys got 159 yards of offense in the same time span.
Neither team took advantage of its opportunities. One would think that among 159 yards, Oklahoma State would run into a field goal or touchdown somewhere, but no. The Wildcats recovered a fumble by the Cowboys, but proceeded to commit a penalty, go three-and-out and punt.
Among this offensive inefficiency, the play of one particular defender stood out for K-State. Freshman safety Ty Zimmerman had eight tackles, including two for losses, and seemed to have the number of Kendall Hunter, the Cowboys’ heralded running back. Hunter finished with 143 yards on 28 carries, and Zimmerman totaled 12 tackles.
The second quarter began much the same way as the first. K-State punted some more, but Hunter fumbled to give the Wildcats the ball on K-State’s 38-yard line. This time, K-State converted. Ten plays, 62 yards and five minutes later, the Wildcats were in the end zone.
Seniors were the big names on K-State’s first scoring drive. Running back Daniel Thomas hit his stride, and moved into sixth place on the K-State all-time rushing yards, though later in the game he would run into fifth place. Quarterback Carson Coffman connected with wide receiver Aubrey Quarles three times to set up the touchdown run by running back William Powell.
However, the Cowboys could not be stopped forever. The K-State defense kept them from scoring on their possession after the Wildcats’ first touchdown, but on the one after that, Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden connected for a 40-yard completion to wide receiver Isaiah Anderson. From then, it was only a matter of time before the Cowboys scored on a 15-yard touchdown pass to receiver Michael Harrison.
That is how K-State – who lost 47-42 last week – and Oklahoma State – who lost 51-41 last week – came to end the first half of the game in a 7-7 tie.
In the third quarter, Oklahoma State put more points on the board, despite its penalties, which would be a plague the entire game. By the time the game ended, the referees had penalized the Cowboys 10 times for 100 yards.
K-State chewed up six minutes of clock in its first drive but came away with nothing. Three penalties by Oklahoma State – roughing the passer, 12 men on the field and a blatant personal foul – helped the Wildcats into the red zone, but not only could they not convert, they missed a 24-yard field goal.
Oklahoma State responded to the Wildcats’ incompetence by driving for its second touchdown of the game. Aided by passes to the sideline, which got largely pain-free yardage for several of the Cowboys’ receivers, Oklahoma State had five plays of more than 10 yards on its way to scoring.
After K-State went three-and-out yet, the Cowboys drove down the field again and scored. This time the blazing dandelion-yellow cleats of Cowboys’ kicker Dan Bailey put the points on the board, and Oklahoma State led 17-7 with 1:30 remaining in the third quarter.
On the Wildcat’s ensuing drive, the Cowboys helped them out by being offsides on third down. Then K-State helped itself with a 17-yard catch by senior wide receiver Chris Harper. On the subsequent play, the third quarter ended, sending the Wildcats to the opposite end of the field.
K-State began the fourth quarter with an interception. However, the Cowboys could not capitalize; they went three-and-out.
Thomas jump-started the Wildcats’ next drive by bursting through holes for rushes of eight yards, five yards and 11 yards. But after a five-yard run by Powell, Thomas threw out of the Wildcat formation to Quarles, who tipped the ball, and it was intercepted. Again, the Wildcats got a break; the Cowboys went three-and-out, unable to turn the turnover into points.
As the saying goes, however, the third time is the charm. The Wildcats began their subsequent drive on their own 1-yard line, and after they earned a first down, Coffman threw a third interception. This one was returned for a touchdown, putting the Cowboys up 23-7 and putting the game out of the reach of the Wildcats with 7:06 remaining in the game.
However, Oklahoma State apparently could not resist a few jibes and got penalized for what appeared to be an intentional helmet-to-helmet hit (the defender led with his head and had his arms nearly at his sides) as well as a facemask, helping the Wildcats keep their drive alive. That drive culminated in a 1-yard run by Daniel Thomas, putting the score at 24-14 Oklahoma State.
It would not be enough for the Wildcats, who fell to 5-3 with the loss and dodged bowl eligibility for a second consecutive week. K-State next faces Texas at home on Saturday.