Barnes Stars On Ground as K-State Defeats Baylor, 42-21




6-4 (4-3 Big 12)

6-4 (3-4 Big 12)

J. Ertz (QB): 16-25, 177yds, 0TD | 17car, 46yds, 0TD
A. Barnes (RB): 19car, 129yds, 4TD
D. Burton (WR): 4rec, 82yds, 0TD

Z. Smith (QB): 27-45, 258yds, 3TD, 3INT
S. Linwood (RB): 24car, 110yds, 0TD
K. Cannon (WR): 9rec, 91yds, 0TD

TEAM 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q F
K-State 0 7 21 14 42
Baylor 0 14 0 7 21

WACO, Texas -- Redshirt freshman running back Alex Barnes scored four second-half touchdowns, including three in a 21-point third quarter, as Kansas State reached bowl eligibility for the seventh consecutive season with a 42-21 win over Baylor before 43,581 fans at McLane Stadium on Saturday.

The four rushing touchdowns were the most-ever by a Wildcat freshman, while 129 yards on the ground ranks third in school history among freshmen.  

The win was Bill Snyder’s 199th all-time, moving him into sole possession of 26th place all-time in FBS victories. It was also K-State’s first win over Baylor since 2011 and the first win in Waco since 2002, as the Wildcats are now bowl eligible for the seventh consecutive season and 18th time under Snyder.

K-State (6-4, 4-3 Big 12) held the high-powered Baylor offense scoreless for the opening 22 minutes before the Bears turned two K-State turnovers into a 14-7 halftime lead. The Wildcats put up a balanced 174 yards of total offense – 85 on the ground, 89 through the air -  on 36 plays before the break and held possession for nearly 18 minutes of action. Baylor (6-4, 3-4 Big 12), using quarterback Zach Smith for the injured Seth Russell, was held to 167 yards of offense, including 147 in the passing attack.

The game flipped on its head in the second half, as K-State took command behind its ground and pound attack. The Wildcats ran for 153 yards and five touchdowns after the half, while the defense came up with three interceptions to foil any Baylor comeback.

The Wildcats were led out of the huddle by junior quarterback Jesse Ertz for the 10th time this season. Ertz finished 16-of-25 for 177 yards through the air and was K-State’s second leading rusher with 46 yards on 17 carries, including a long of 40 yards to set up the Wildcats’ first touchdown.

What started as a running back by committee early on, did not last in the second half. Barnes burst onto the scene with a series of bouldering runs in the third quarter – a quarter in which he found the end zone three times. Barnes led the Wildcats’ backfield with 19 carries for 129 yards and four touchdowns, marking his first 100-yard rushing game and first multi-touchdown game of his young career. K-State’s starting running back, senior Charles Jones, finished with six rushes for 46 yards, while sophomore fullback Winston Dimel aided the rushing effort with two touchdowns on his three carries.

At wide receiver, K-State was paced by three players with four or more catches on Saturday. Sophomore Byron Pringle led the way with five grabs for 46 yards. Senior Deante Burton pulled down four balls for 82 yards, including K-State’s longest pass of the day for 37 yards, while redshirt freshman Isaiah Zuber also hauled in four passes for 32 yards.

The Wildcats finished the day with 414 yards of total offense, including 237 on the ground, marking the fourth consecutive game K-State has rushed for 230-or-more yards. Baylor ran three more plays (79-76), but the Wildcats won the time of possession battle by a healthy 12 minutes.

On the defensive side of the ball, K-State held Baylor to just 368 yards of total offense, the fewest allowed to the Bears by any team this season. The Wildcats’ defense also posted shutouts in two quarters of play, the first and third, a feat that had yet to be accomplished against the Bears this season.

Sophomore corner Duke Shelley and senior linebacker Charmeachealle Moore paced K-State defenders with eight tackles apiece. Sophomore corner D.J. Reed was in on seven tackles and added four pass breakups, while sophomore safety Kendall Adams also made seven stops. Senior corner Donnie Starks had a career day by reeling in two interceptions, while senior safety Dante Barnett also snatched his first interception of the season. Juniors Tanner Wood and Elijah Lee were credited with a forced fumble before senior defensive end Reggie Walker came up with the recovery.

Special teams proved important in playing a role with field position throughout the day as junior punter Nick Walsh pinned the Bears back inside their 20-yard line on two of his four punts. In the return game, Reed had the game’s longest play with his 76-yard return to the Baylor 23, setting up K-State’s fifth touchdown score.

To begin the game, the Wildcats won the opening toss and deferred until the second half. The defense spent 43 seconds on the field while holding Baylor to a three-and-out, before a punt allowed K-State to take over at its own 48-yard line. A penalty thwarted the Wildcats’ first possession and Walsh came on to punt.

Baylor’s ensuing possession went 80 yards in 15 plays, but didn’t change the scoreboard. The Wildcats extended the Bears’ drive with a roughing the kicker penalty on a botched block punt, one of five penalties on the drive. But, the K-State defense didn’t break, as Lee and Wood combined to strip Baylor receiver Ishmael Zamora at the 2-yard line to keep the game level.

The first quarter ended scoreless and would remain through five possessions for each team, but momentum sided with the Bears midway through the second quarter.

Despite being nudged by a blocker, Heath was unable to corral a Baylor punt and the Bears recovered deep in K-State territory. Smith found Blake Lynch two plays later for a 25-yard score to put Baylor ahead, 7-0, with 6:43 left in the second quarter.

Baylor’s score ignited the Wildcats’ offense, with a response coming in just under three minutes. The six-play, 90-yard drive was fueled by a 37-yard completion to Burton along with a Houdini-esque escape from Ertz on fourth down, as he looped away from defenders for 40 yards to the Baylor 2-yard line. Dimel pounded it in on the next play for his ninth touchdown of the season, knotting the game at 7-7 with 3:55 left in the half.

K-State forced another Baylor three-and-out, the third of the first half, on the next possession. The Bears had the ball again moments later, though, as Ertz lost control of the football at K-State’s 40-yard line. Smith found Chris Platt for a 24-yard touchdown pass with 10 seconds on the clock to give Baylor the halftime lead, 14-7.

The Wildcats wasted no time to begin the second half. The drive featured eight runs for 65 yards, including a 26-yarder from Ertz to put K-State on Baylor’s side of the field. Barnes scored from 11 yards out at the 10:41 mark to level the score, 14-14.

K-State earned its first lead with 2:41 left in the third quarter. A 13-play, 87-yard drive elapsed 5:59 from the clock as Ertz converted two third-and-long situations with a 20-yard completion to Zuber and a 24-yarder to Burton. The drive featured nine runs with Barnes taking care of the final 30 yards on five carries, including the 1-yard score to put K-State up 21-14.

On Baylor’s next possession, Starks stepped in front of a Bear receiver for his first career interception, which he returned to the Baylor 15-yard line. Barnes needed only three carries to cover the 21 yards, running to the right pylon for his third rushing touchdown of the quarter. The Wildcats led 28-14 as the third quarter wound down.

After Baylor found some offensive success to begin the fourth, Starks came up with his second interception, this time in K-State’s own end zone, but the Wildcats were unable to move the ball and punted.

Baylor answered for its first points of the second half when Smith found Pooh Stricklin for a 19-yard touchdown pass. K-State’s advantage was slimmed to 28-21 with 7:28 to play in the game.

The backbreaker for Baylor came on the ensuing kickoff as Reed brought it back 76 yards to the Bears’ 23-yard line. Ertz completed a 15-yard bootleg to Burton before Dimel scored his second of the day to push the scoreline to 35-21.

A Barnett interception on the next Baylor drive was the Wildcats’ fourth takeaway. Barnett returned his first interception of the season to the Bears’ 23 before Barnes took care of the distance in just three runs for his fourth rushing touchdown of the game.

Down 42-21, Baylor ran out the remainder of the clock to give the Wildcats their first win in Waco since 2002.

K-State returns to Manhattan for Senior Day and the Sunflower Showdown next Saturday, Nov. 26, for an 11 a.m. kickoff on FS1 against Kansas.