Cats Come Up Short Again

November 6, 20150 Comments

By Tyler Dreiling

If there is a remedy for Kansas State to resurrect its quickly deteriorating season, playing the Baylor Bears was probably not it.

Paced by true freshman Jarrett Stidham’s excellent performance in his first career start, the No. 6 Bears survived a late K-State comeback bid for a 31-24 victory Thursday night at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, sending the Wildcats to their fifth straight loss.

It was a very familiar game for banged-up K-State (3-5, 0-5 Big 12). Similar to its losses to Oklahoma State and TCU, the Wildcats played a decent game in many phases. It just wasn’t good enough.

“With the exception of one game, we have always been competitive, and tonight was no different,” coach Bill Snyder said. “I’m pleased with their effort.”

After Baylor opened the game with a score, K-State responded by driving 88 yards in 17 plays, capped by Joe Hubener’s one-yard touchdown run. The drive melted over nine minutes of game time, which was exactly what the Wildcats had to do to keep an upset within reach.

But costly turnovers prevented K-State from matching the national title hopefuls step-for-step. Hubener fumbled at the BU 22 yard line as K-State tried to tie the game at 14, then threw an interception on the Wildcats’ following drive.

The Bears gratefully accepted the free opportunities. On the first play after Hubener’s interception, BU wide out Corey Coleman went 81 yards down the sideline for an easy score, putting Baylor ahead 21-7.

In the ongoing absence of cornerback Danzel McDaniel and All-Big 12 safety Dante Barnett, the K-State secondary was outmatched. Stidham completed 23 of 33 passes on the night for 419 yards and three touchdowns.

Coleman, who leads the Big 12 in touchdowns, had another monster game, catching 11 passes for 216 yards and two scores.

His catch over Duke Shelley with 5:10 left in the third quarter gave the Bears a 28-10 lead, seemingly eliminating any chance of the Wildcats springing an upset.

But K-State refused to give in, scoring with 9:47 to play on Hubener’s second rushing touchdown of the game, and again at the 4:07 mark, when he found Deante Burton from ten yards out. Suddenly, it was 31-24.

“We were much better defensively in the second half,” Snyder said.

After Baylor missed a 41-yard field goal with a minute to play, Kody Cook’s trick play interception cemented the Wildcats’ fate.

K-State’s offense did show signs of life for the first time in almost a month, as Hubener totaled 153 yards rushing against a physical defense. For the game, K-State had 430 total yards, which topped its output in the Wildcats’ last two games combined.

Obviously, it was only a small step up a very tall ladder.

“I’ve seen improvement,” Snyder said. “In order to eliminate mistakes, you have to practice better. We’re made some headway there. But it takes time.”

A rare bright spot for K-State is that its grueling stretch to open Big 12 play has finally come to an end. The final four teams on schedule have an overall record of 11-21 this season. But the Wildcats must defeat three of them to ensure bowl eligibility.

The task will begin on Nov. 14 when K-State heads to Texas Tech. The Wildcats have won two straight in Lubbock.

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