Wildcats get close – but not close enough

Junior quarterback Joe Hubener pushes Baylor defender Travon Blanchard aside as he rushes for a considerable gain in the first half of the Wildcats' 24-31 loss to the #2 Bears Thursday night in Bill Snyder Family Stadium. (Parker Robb | The Collegian)

No. 2 Baylor ended up being too much for the K-State football team on Thursday.

Even though the 31-24 game marked the Wildcats’ fifth-straight loss, the defensive effort held Baylor’s high-flying offense to their lowest point total of the season.

The Bears came out of the gate quickly, completing 3-4 passes out of the gate to make their way down to K-State’s 11-yard line.

The Bears freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham called his own number then and ran in it for a Baylor touchdown before two minutes had run off the clock.

The Wildcats, however, would start the game with the opposite.

Draining over nine minutes off the game clock, K-State junior quarterback Joe Hubener orchestrated a 17-play drive – with 14 of those being running plays – to tie it up at 7-7 on a 1-yard quarterback sneak.

Baylor found a way to top their opening two-minute drive with a 56 second, four-play blur featuring a 55-yard touchdown pass from Stidham to Baylor wide receiver K.D. Cannon to give the Bears the lead once again at 14-7.

The Wildcats once again mounted a drive similar to their first, running all the way down to Baylor’s 22-yard line before a Hubener fumble gave the Bears the ball.

The turnover bug wouldn’t leave the Wildcats anytime soon, as Hubener would throw his first interception of the evening to Bears corner Ryan Reid.

The Baylor offense would find a way to top their two previous, already impressive drives as Stidham found a wide open junior Corey Coleman for a 81-yard touchdown pass, burning all of 10 seconds off of the game clock.

The Wildcats would not find more points in the first half until a fizzled-out drive resulted in a 36-yard field goal from senior kicker Jack Cantele to cut Baylor’s lead to 11 points at 21-10.

After opening the half with a punt, the Bears would find their offensive mojo on their next drive, doing their most damage on a 38-yard reception by Coleman on fourth down after freshman cornerback Duke Shelley whiffed on an interception attempt, leading to wide open spaces for Coleman.

Coleman would not have to wait long for his next reception as he caught a miracle of a pass from Stidham from 3 yards out to give him his second touchdown of the night.

K-State’s defense would rebound though, stopping a promising Baylor drive on the next possession and forcing them to kick a field goal from 39 yards out, extending their lead to 31-10.

K-State would have an answer in the form of their first touchdown of the second half.

After a 19-yard run by freshman running back Justin Silmon followed by 21-yard completion from senior wide receiver Kody Cook to junior running back Charles Jones, Hubener broke free and rushed for a 34-yard touchdown to bring the game within two scores.

Defensively, the Wildcats had their best outing of the game containing that Baylor run attack the way they’ve done all game, forcing the Bears into their first three and out of the ballgame.

With the momentum seized, the Wildcats set their sights on cutting the Baylor lead to seven.

After connecting with Cook for a 7-yard pass, Hubener found freshman fullback Winston Dimel wide open down the field for 46-yard pop pass reception.

Five plays later, Hubener found junior wide receiver Deante Burton for a 10-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to seven.

With a tie score within the Wildcats’ grasp, Baylor took to field with a little over four minutes to play in the game.

Stidham connected with Cannon on the first play of the drive for 40 yards to get the Bears well within field goal range.

After driving the ball within the 20, a Baylor hold and and a 6-yard sack by senior defensive tackle Travis Britz set up a 41-yard field goal for the Bears.

Sophomore kicker Chris Callahan’s kick sailed wide right, breathing new life into this Wildcat team.

The turnover bug would end the Wildcats hopes of a upset as a flee flicker pass from Cook was intercepted, thus ending all chances of a remarkable comeback by the Wildcats.

Tim Everson was born in Wichita, KS in 1994. Before fifth grade he moved up to Manhattan for one year before settling in Riley, KS where he graduated from Riley County High School in 2012. Tim has worked for the Collegian since spring of 2014 and took over as Sports Editor during the summer of 2015. Tim loves sports, music, movies and good food when he can get it.