Mistakes costly for Cats in loss to Auburn

By Erik Stone

Coming into Thursday night’s game with fifth-ranked Auburn, the 20th-ranked Kansas State Wildcats were confident they would be able to move the ball down the field against what could be at times a suspect Tiger defense. At the same time, Auburn, the defending Southeastern Conference Champions who came within an eyelash of their second National title in the last four years last season were known as an athletic, explosive squad that the Wildcats defense would be challenged to contain.

As it turned out, Football games aren’t scripted and this game didn’t go according to the plot. In what turned out to be a mistake-filled low-scoring affair, Auburn prevailed 20-14 but Kansas State left the field knowing they had an opportunity to win this game.

After forcing an Auburn punt to open the contest, K-State turned the ball over deep in its own territory on its first drive when Quarterback Jake Waters fumbled, setting up Auburn inside the Wildcat 25-yard line. However, the Defensive unit which had tackling issues in its first two games of the season held strong and forced the Tigers to settle for a 34-yard Field Goal and a 3-0.

It was on the next two possessions that the frustration began to mount for Bill Snyder’s team. K-State after a pass interference penalty faced a second and goal on the Auburn one-yard line when Waters threw to his favorite target and the usually reliable Tyler Lockett. However the ball went through his hands and was intercepted in the end zone by Auburn’s Johnathon Jones. The next drive ended when Jack Cantele hooked a 42-yard Field Goal attempt wide left.

K-State then broke through in the second quarter and took its only lead of the night on DeMarcus Robinson’s three-yard run giving the Wildcats a 7-3 lead much to the delight of the boisterous sellout crowd of 53,046 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Auburn then marched down the field on its next drive moving 75 yards in nine plays, the final 40 on a pass from Nick Marshall to Ricardo Louis. K-State missed a chance to tie the game just before halftime when their drive stalled at the Tigers 24-yard line and Cantele missed on a 41-yard Field Goal attempt.

On its second drive of the third quarter, the Wildcats again drove deep into Auburn territory, all the way down to the five-yard line when Cantele would miss for the third time pushing a 22-yard Field Goal attempt wide right. Early in the fourth quarter it appeared that Auburn would start to pull away when Marshall found D’haquille Williams in the corner of the end zone from nine yards out and then Carlson pushed the Tiger lead to 20-7 on a 25-yard Field Goal with 6:28 left.

The Wildcats would not give up though and they marched 65 yards in 11 plays culminating with a one-yard run by Charles Jones with 3:49 remaining to cut the deficit to 20-14. K-State still had two timeouts and needed to get a defensive stop. On a third and long play, Marshall connected with Williams on a pass to the K-State 20-yard line and Auburn was able to run out the clock and improve to 4-0 in the all-time series with the Cats.

On a night when both defenses played better than expected, The Wildcats held Auburn to 359 total yards but were only able to muster 285 of their own including just 40 yards on the ground. Waters on the night was 24 out of 40 for 240 yards and two interceptions and was also sacked three times. Robinson was the leading ground gainer with 25 yards and Curry Sexton was the leading receiver with 11 catches for 121 yards while Lockett was held to six receptions for 45 yards.

Kansas State (2-1, 1-0) will next be in action as they wrap up non-conference play on September 27 against Texas-El Paso at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m.


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