Kansas State football recovered from its Texas loss in supreme fashion, taking down the Baylor Bears 59-25. History was made as well, as quarterback Will Howard passed Josh Freeman for the most passing touchdown in K-State history with 45.
“It’s an unbelievable honor and I couldn’t do it with[out] all the guys in that locker room, who have caught passes for me, blocked for me, you know the defense, all the teams,” Howard said. “I truly wouldn’t have been able to do this without all my guys. I’m blessed. I’m grateful. You know, it still really hasn’t sunk in yet.”
Howard began his pursuit with an 18-yard touchdown pass to running back DJ Giddens. In response, Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen threw his first of two touchdowns on the day to running back Dawson Pendergrass. This was the first time all season the defense allowed a touchdown on the opening drive at home. This was the closest the Bears kept the game.
Howard then threw his second touchdown of the day, this time to tight end Ben Sinnott. Then, the defense got their revenge. Defensive end Cody Stufflebean recorded his first career sack and first of two on the game. The blindside collision forced the ball out of Shapen’s hands for linebacker Desmond Purnell to take to the house.
“Coach [defensive coordinator Joe] Klanderman called a great blitz and luckily they slid away from me and I just came free and got home,” Stufflebean said.
From then on the Wildcats continued to dominate, including Howard’s record-setting touchdown pass to full back Christian Moore, the first touchdown of his career. Howard went on to complete passes to nine players on the day, finishing the day with 235 passing yards and three passing touchdowns on 19 completions alongside a rushing touchdown.
“That just shows you how much versatility we have at the receiver position, the tight end position,” Howard said about hitting nine different receivers. “We got dudes everywhere that can make plays.”
Near the end of the first half and into the second half, Baylor pulled out every trick possible to try to stay close. This included a successful onside kick, two failed two-point conversions and a failed fake field goal.
“Just keep attacking, not trying to be conservative after all that happened,” safety Kobe Savage said about not letting the trick plays get to them. “They were doing everything they could to beat us. … Coach Klanderman having a lot of adjusting calls for us and being able to capitalize in those moments [was important].”
Baylor’s offense also got to play against the K-State defense without linebacker Jake Clifton because of injury in the second half as well as defensive end Khalid Duke due to ejection. The Bears got within 19 in the third quarter but sputtered from then on.
K-State scored two more touchdowns, including a pick-six from cornerback Keenan Garber. Garber’s clear path to the end zone placed K-State at-or-above 50 points for the first time this season. The season high 59 points included seven different scorers and two field goals.
“Once I just saw the quarterback turn my way, I knew it was coming my way and I just made a good read on it,” Garber said.
Now, the Wildcats move to 7-3 with a 5-2 Big 12 record with two games remaining. As the Big 12 unfolds, K-State continues to keep a chance at making it to Arlington for another Big 12 Championship game.
K-State stays in-state but on the road next Saturday to face off against the No. 16 Kansas Jayhawks who fell to unranked Texas Tech 16-13 after quarterback Jason Bean left the game injured.
“I don’t know how the race will shake out and stuff,” head coach Chris Klieman said. “We just got to keep playing and that’s all we can do because this is a really good league. … If you don’t play your best football, you’re gonna get beat.”