Cowboys defeat Wildcats 41-39

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STILLWATER, Okla. – K-State did nearly everything it had to do on its final drive.

The Wildcats moved down the field, found the end zone, and instead of going for the tie, they played for the win.

Their fatal flaw?

They scored too quickly.

Trailing by one point after Leon Patton’s 11-yard TD run, K-State successfully completed a two-point conversion by putting the ball in the hands of its playmaker – Jordy Nelson.

But there was still 1 minute, 10 seconds left. And in this game, which had 1,039 total yards of offense, that was simply too much time.

Oklahoma State drove down the field, Jason Ricks kicked a 26-yard field goal with two seconds left, and the Cowboys went on to defeat K-State 41-39 Saturday night in front of 41,725 at Boone Pickens Stadium.

“I anticipated this being a really terrific game,” coach Ron Prince said. “We came to their place and we gave it a good fight. It wasn’t enough.”

It certainly could have been.

Despite three turnovers, a special teams that allowed a kick return touchdown and a defense that couldn’t stop much of anything, the Wildcats still had a chance at the end.

But they couldn’t find a way to slow down the Cowboys, who marched 49 yards on six plays to set up the game-winning score.

“We missed tackles, and that’s a problem we’ve been having,” safety Chris Carney said. “Give all the credit to Oklahoma State because they went down and did what they needed to do and scored.”

Oklahoma State (5-3, 3-1 Big 12) racked up 329 rushing yards on 59 carries, led by Dantrell Savage, who had 28 attempts for 124 yards. Quarterback Zac Robinson threw for 181 yards and three TD’s, and also had 109 yards on the ground.

“I tried to compare this team, offensively, to the 2002 St. Louis Rams – ‘The Greatest Show on Turf,'” Prince said.

“They’ve been able to win in a shootout against Texas Tech and against ourselves here. My hat is off to them.”

K-State’s offense was just as impressive. Nelson had 12 catches for 176 yards, and became the first player since James Terry in 2003 to have three receiving touchdowns in a game.

Quarterback Josh Freeman, meanwhile, had a career performance. He went 36-of-51 for 404 yards and three TD’s. He wasn’t impressed.

“It wasn’t good enough to win,” Freeman said. “I’d take last week’s game over this week’s game any day.”

The Wildcats (4-3, 2-2) twice built 14-point leads in the first half, both a result of Nelson TD catches. His first grab, a 17-yard catch and run, put K-State ahead 14-0. After the Cowboys pulled within seven, Freeman again found Nelson, this time for a 46-yard touchdown.

The Wildcats, which led 21-17 at the half, fell behind 31-28 before Brooks Rossman made a 23-yard field goal with 8:01 left.

But the Cowboys responded with a 10-play, 83-yard drive that ended in a 39-yard TD pass from Robinson to Brandon Pettigrew.

“We used a variety of coverages to get our match ups the way we wanted them,” Prince said. “He was just able to pick them apart.”

K-State scored on the ensuing possession, but before reaching the end zone, Prince had already decided what he would do. He was going for two.

“I realize that’s the kind of decision that could be criticized,” Prince said. “I didn’t really care. I was going to get the ball to our best player and play to win.”

The move paid off. Freeman found Nelson for the conversion and the Wildcats took the lead.

It just wasn’t enough.

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