WACO, Texas – Kansas State has struggled to close out games in the second half this season. But not on Saturday, as the Wildcats erased a 14-7 halftime deficit and outscored Baylor 35-7 in the game’s final two quarters to defeat the Bears 42-21. With the win, K-State improved to 6-4 overall and 4-3 in Big 12 play and is once again bowl eligible for the eighth straight season.
Alex Barnes, who came into the game averaging 7.8 yards per carry this season, had a career-high 129 yards on 19 carries and four touchdowns, averaging 6.8 yards per rush. The redshirt freshman had 120 of those yards and all four of his touchdowns coming in the second half on 18 rushes.
The Wildcats tied the game on a 10-play, 84-yard drive to start the second half, capped by a Barnes 11-yard touchdown run. K-State followed that drive with a 13-play, 87-yard touchdown drive to go up 21-14. A Donnie Starks interception on the ensuing possession set K-State up at the Baylor 21-yard line. Barnes would punch it in from 2 yards out to give K-State a 28-14 advantage.
The Bears pulled within 7 on a 19-yard touchdown pass with 7:28 remaining in the game. But the Wildcats’ D.J. Reed returned the ensuing kickoff 76 yards to set K-State up inside the Bears’ 25. Winston Dimel would score on a 2-yard run on third-and-goal to go up 35-21. A Dante Barnett interception, followed by a Barnes 9-yard touchdown run, would seal the victory.
K-State struggled in the first half, failing to capitalize on good field position. Dominique Heath muffed a punt inside the Wildcats’ own 30-yard line in the second quarter, eventually leading to the Bears’ first score of the game on a 25-yard touchdown pass to Gabe Lynch.
The Wildcats answered with a 2-yard Winston Dimel touchdown run to even the game at 7-7. However, with less than a minute remaining in the first half, K-State’s Jesse Ertz fumbled at the Wildcats’ 40-yard line, leading to a Baylor touchdown pass with 10 seconds remaining in the game.
K-State rushed for 237 yards on 51 carries, marking the fourth straight game the Wildcats have rushed for more than 230 yards. Ertz completed 16 of his 25 passes for 177 yards.
The Wildcats’ defense played well, forcing four Baylor turnovers and holding the Bears to a season-worst 368 yards of offense. Baylor averaged 4.7 yards per offensive play, tying its previous low this season against TCU.
K-State bottled up the Baylor rushing attack, which came into the game averaging 5.2 yards per carry. The Bears ran for a season-low 110 yards on 33 carries, an average of 3.3 yards per rush.
The Wildcats will play Kansas next Saturday at 11 a.m. in Manhattan in a game where Bill Snyder will be going for his 200th career victory at K-State.
Filed in: Postgame Wrap up