After starting off conference play with three straight losses, Kansas State football finally has a 2018 Big 12 win.
The Wildcats (3-4, 1-3) outplayed the Oklahoma State Cowboys, getting a 31-12 win on Saturday.
K-State gained 421 yards of offense to 311 yards for Oklahoma State. It also dominated the time of possession game, holding the ball for 37:52 compared to 22:08 for the Cowboys. K-State also came up with two sacks, five tackles for loss and two interceptions.
K-State’s Alex Barnes came into Saturday’s game behind Oklahoma State’s Justice Hill for second in the Big 12 with 101.2 rushing yards per game. The junior running back outperformed Hill in the first half, running 18 times for 94 yards.
Barnes’ longest run came on a 29 yard gain on K-State’s first drive of the game. It appeared that the Wildcats had some momentum and a good chance to get on the board first in the game. Eventually, they settled for a 51-yard field goal, that was missed by Andrew Hicks.
Despite K-State failing to get points on its opening drive, Oklahoma State had the same result. The Cowboys got one first down before quarterback Taylor Cornelius overthrew a pass to wide-open receiver Tylan Wallace.
On the next drive, the Wildcats went three plays before punting.
The game’s first score came on Oklahoma State’s second drive, when they went 10 plays and 36 yards before getting a field goal.
It could have resulted in more points, but the Cowboys were called for offensive pass interference on what was almost a touchdown. That penalty was followed by a false start call, before K-State linebacker Da’Quan Patton tackled Cornelius for no gain on third down.
Kicker Matt Ammendola nailed a 48-yard field goal for the game’s first score, and the Cowboys led 3-0 with 5:10 to go in the first quarter.
The next score of the game at the 13:32 mark of the second quarter, when Hicks finished off a 13 play, 50 yard K-State drive with a 31-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3.
Oklahoma State responded by putting together what appeared to be a solid drive, as it was making its way to the end zone.
With the ball at the K-State 33-yard line, Cornelius fired a pass into the end zone for Wallace. The pass was tipped away by K-State cornerback Duke Shelley, and then Shelley made a spectacular play by snagging the ball out of the air and dragging his feet in bounds.
The Wildcats could not capitalize on the interception, however, as they went three plays before punting the ball back to the Cowboys.
Oklahoma State made it all the way down to the K-State seven-yard line thanks to a 45-yard connection between Cornelius and Wallace. After allowing the Cowboys inside their own 10-yard line, the Wildcat defense held strong and made the visitors settle for a 22-yard field goal.
Ammendola’s second field goal of the day put the Cowboys up 6-3 with 7:23 to go before halftime.
K-State got the ball back one last time in the first half with 5:31 remaining. After marching down to the Oklahoma State 19-yard line, the Wildcats failed to get any points as quarterback Skylar Thompson was sacked and the clock expired.
K-State likely could have called a timeout and attempted a field goal before going into the locker room, had it not burned its final timeout of the first half with 4:14 to go.
Instead, another mishap of the type that has seemed to plague the Wildcats this season resulted in them trailing 6-3 at the half. Saturday marked the first time in 32 games that Oklahoma State failed to score a touchdown— the last time being in the 2015 Allstate Sugar Bowl.
In the first two quarters, the Wildcat defense allowed the Cowboys to gain 170 total yards of offense—97 through the air and 73 on the ground. The Cowboys were also just two-for-six on third down conversions in the first half.
Despite such an unfortunate end to the first half, K-State came out of the locker room ready to go.
The defense forced a three-and-out by the Cowboys the first time out, and the offense followed it up with a nine play, 70-yard touchdown drive. Barnes finished it off with a nine-yard touchdown run, giving K-State a 10-6 lead, its first of the game.
On Oklahoma State’s next drive, its first two plays were a 19-yard pass from Cornelius to receiver Tyron Johnson, followed by a 22-yard run by Cornelius. K-State’s defense would come through, as junior defensive end Kyle Ball sacked Cornelius on third down.
Thompson made the most of a short, 27-yard punt by the Cowboys, marching down the field for another touchdown.
Just two plays into the drive, K-State was faced with a third-and-seven. Thompson found senior wide receiver Isaiah Zuber for 11 yards to get the first. On the very next play, Thompson found Barnes on a wheel route, and the running back made an impressive one-handed catch to gain 28 yards.
Thompson showed off the ability to use his legs, scrambling 19 yards to the one-yard line. Barnes would then punch the ball into the end zone for his second score of the day.
As the third quarter came to a close, Oklahoma State was driving down the field with a first-and-goal from the Wildcat nine-yard line as the quarter ended.
It did not take long for the Cowboys to finish off that drive, as Cornelius ran it in for a one-yard touchdown at the 14:23 mark of the fourth quarter. They attempted a two-point conversion but failed to convert, making the score 17-12 in favor of K-State.
K-State responded with a touchdown of its own, as Barnes gained 44 yards on the drive and finished it off with his third rushing touchdown of the day, scoring from eight yards out. Barnes’ touchdown put K-State up 24-12 with 9:31 remaining in the game.
After forcing Oklahoma State to punt yet again, K-State got the ball back with 8:07 to go. The Wildcats ran the clock down until there was just 2:35 left in the game. Barnes finished the 11 play, 75 yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run, his fourth of the game.
The Cowboys’ final possession of the game ended when Duke Shelley intercepted Cornelius for the second time, giving K-State the ball back with 0:38 left, and an opportunity to take a knee and run out the clock.
1. Barnes and the offensive line dominated the Cowboys defense. After gaining 94 yards on the ground in the first half, Barnes finished the game with 181 yards and four touchdowns. Barnes is on somewhat of a hot streak after he ran for 250 yards and three touchdowns last week.
As a team, K-State ran for 291 yards, the second most this season.
Coming into the game, Oklahoma State averaged 4.67 sacks per game, but K-State’s offensive line surrendered just two.
2. Thompson’s running ability on full display. After going just four-of-14 for 29 yards passing in the first half, Skylar Thompson finished the game 11-of-22 with 130 yards. More impressive though, was the way he used his feet. The redshirt sophomore gained 80 yards on 12 rushing attempts, often standing in the pocket before scrambling to make plays.
3. K-State’s defense showed improvement. The Wildcats held Oklahoma State to 311 total yards of offense—including 127 rushing and 184 passing. It was the third game of the season that K-State held its opponent to under 200 passing yards, and the first time since playing UTSA.
Aside from holding the Cowboys to under 200 yards through the air, K-State’s secondary held Cornelius to under a 50% completion percentage, and Shelley had two interceptions.
Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill entered the game with the second most rushing yards per game (107.2) in the Big 12. K-State surrendered just 41 yards to Hill on 11 rushes.
After a big victory on Saturday, K-State will have its bye week before resuming play at Oklahoma on October 27th.