Close – but not close enough

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Head coach Bill Snyder angrily looks out onto the field after a referee's call during the football game between K-State and Baylor on Nov. 5, 2015 in Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Baylor defeated K-State 31-24. (Cassandra Nguyen | The Collegian)

As Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham’s knee hit the turf to run out the final seconds of their 31-24 win over K-State, the Wildcats felt an all too familiar feeling.

K-State dropped to 3-5 and 0-5 in the Big 12 including their 5th straight loss and, possibly most baffling of all, their third loss versus a top-25 opponent by seven points or less this season.

“These close games are tough,” sophomore safety Kaleb Prewett said. “They’re fun to play in, but it’d be even better if we came out with a victory.”

The defensive effort held No. 2 Baylor’s high flying offense, averaging 61.1 points per game, to their lowest point total of the season.

“We gave up big plays,” junior linebacker Will Davis said. “We thought going into the game that we were confident enough that we could hold them to nothing but we gave up big plays and they scored 31. That’s not good enough on our part.”

The Bears attacked early with blinding speed, making their way down the field and punching in in on a Stidham sneak in under two minutes.

The Wildcats however, took much more the tortoise’s approach to Baylor’s hare, marching down the field in an almost 10-minute drive before junior quarterback Joe Hubener would punch it in himself to tie up the game.

Hubener was a force on the ground, with 153 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.

The Wildcats dominated time of possession, racking up nearly 40 minutes of ball control to only 21:59 for the Bears.

Baylor would continue to move at top speed, only taking 1:04 seconds to find the end zone as Stidham would find sophomore wide receiver K.D. Cannon for a 55 yard bomb to give the Bears the lead once again.

Stidham dominated the K-State secondary, racking up three touchdowns on 419 yards on 23-33 passing with no interceptions.

The Wildcats would take the same slow but steady routine in the ensuing drive and seem to be operating with the same success until Hubener fumbled the ball at the 22-yard line, committing the first of three turnovers that would prove to be costly to K-State down the stretch.

After a Hubener pick on K-State next drive, the Bears took all of 10 seconds for Stidham to find junior wide receiver Corey Coleman for a 81-yard touchdown on the first play of the drive.

Coleman was one of two 100-plus yard receivers, raking in 216 yards and two touchdowns in a dominating effort.

While it seemed the Bears were back on track for another blowout, the defense played one of their best halves of the season holding the Bears to only 10 points.

After K-State opened the second half with a 36-yard field goal, the Bears would find their offensive mojo, following punting on their opening 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 to senior wide receiver Kody Cook, 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.

Two 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.

The kick sailed wide right, breathing new life into this Wildcat team.

Down seven, the Wildcats set their sights on a possibly taking the Bears into over time with a touchdown.

Turnovers would rear their ugly head once again as a flea flicker pass from Cook was intercepted as he tried to throw it out of bounds, thus ending all chances of a comeback by the Wildcats.

“We should have thrown the ball out of bounds and tired again,” Snyder said. “Not every play that you are going to run is going to be successful. I can live with that and I can understand that. Like what i said a moment ago, we have to eliminate turnovers and that was a turnover.”

Next week, K-State continues their quest for a conference win as they head back on the road to take on Texas Tech in Lubbock who is riding a two-game losing streak.

The Wildcats still need three wins to guarantee a sixth-straight bowl game.

“We are playing for our pride,” Cook said. “K-State has not been without a bowl game in a while, since 2009. We are playing for a bowl game, our seniors and just pride in general. You do not ever go out there and expect or want to lose, you want to win.”

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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.