No. 14 K-State Holds Off No. 11 Oklahoma, 31-30

Postgame Notes

NORMAN, Okla. – Despite being out-gained by nearly 150 total yards, No. 14 Kansas State took advantage of several mistakes by No. 11 Oklahoma to pull off a 31-30 victory on Saturday afternoon before 85,019 at Memorial Stadium. The win gave the Wildcats’ back-to-back wins in Norman for the first time since 1994 and 1997.

The Sooners threw two interceptions, including one returned five yards for a touchdown by defensive back Danzel McDaniel in the first quarter, and place-kicker Michael Hunnicutt missed two field goals, including a 19-yard attempt with just 3:53 remaining, and had an extra point blocked by junior defensive lineman Travis Britz. The block, the fifth of Britz’s career and ties him with Raphael Guidry (2011) for the most in school history, proved to be the difference.

On the other hand, the Wildcats did not turn the ball over and converted on all three scoring chances in the red zone. The team also made its lone field goal – a 27-yard attempt by Matthew McCrane in the third quarter – and knocked through all four extra point attempts. The squad had just two penalties for 20 yards.

K-State (5-1, 3-0 Big 12) is now 3-0 in Big 12 play for the third time in four seasons and the fifth time overall under head coach Bill Snyder, while Oklahoma (5-2, 2-2 Big 12) lost for the second time in three games and the first time at home this season. It marked just the sixth defeat in 95 home games under head coach Bob Stoops. The Sooners are now 14-2 at home under Stoops versus ranked Big 12 foes with both losses coming to the Wildcats (2012 and 2014).

The Wildcats were once again led by a gritty effort by senior quarterback Jake Waters, who accounted for all three offensive touchdowns (two passing and one rushing). He finished the day with 225 yards through the air on 15-of-23 attempts with two scores, while he added 51 yards and a touchdown on the ground. He moved into the record book in two categories, as he is now 10th in both total yards (4,583) and completions (267) in school history.

Waters’ 15 completions went to just three receivers, as seniors Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton each had tremendous days, while sophomore fullback Glenn Gronkowski took advantage of his one reception rumbling 62 yards for the Wildcats’ first score in the first quarter. Sexton led all wide outs with eight catches for 77 yards, while Lockett added six receptions for a team-high 86 yards. On the ground, running backs DeMarcus Robinson and Charles Jones complemented Waters’ effort with a combined 112 yards rushing with Robinson averaging 8.2 yards on eight carries.

Defensively, K-State was led by senior linebacker Jonathan Truman’s career-best 17 tackles. It was the first 15-plus tackle game by a Wildcat since former linebacker Blake Slaughter registered 15 against Kansas in 2013. Truman now has 30 tackles in his last two meetings with the Sooners. McDaniel and fellow defensive back Morgan Burns each recorded interceptions with McDaniel returning his pick five yards for a touchdown. It marked the 93rd non-offensive touchdown by K-State since 1999, which leads the nation.

Oklahoma out-gained K-State, 533-385, including 335 through the air. Quarterback Trevor Knight completed 26-of-32 attempts for 318 yards passing and three touchdowns, while receiver Sterling Shepard had 15 catches for 197 yards with a score. Running back Samaje Perine paced the Sooner ground attack with 89 yards and a touchdown.

HOW IT HAPPENED | First Half
•    After exchanging punts, Oklahoma opened up the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown run by Perine to cap a 12-play, 79-yard drive that ate up six minutes on the clock and gave the Sooners an early 7-0 lead. Running back Alex Ross had a crucial 42-yard run to continue the drive after the Sooners were backed up after starting fullback Aaron Ripkowski was ejected for a targeting penalty on defensive end Ryan Mueller.
•    K-State responded with an impressive 3-play drive that took just 57 seconds and was capped by a 62-yard pass and catch by Waters to Gronkowski to tie up at 7-all with 4:01 to play in the first quarter. It was Gronkowski’s fourth career touchdown reception and the second-longest after a 67-yarder against Oklahoma State in 2013. Three of his four career touchdown catches have gone for 50 or more yards.
•    After Oklahoma stymied K-State’s drive, punter Nick Walsh pinned the Sooners back on their own 2-yard-line with a 37-yard punt and helped set up the Wildcats’ second score. Defensive back Danzel McDaniel perfectly read Trevor Knight’s pass and ran the interception back for a 5-yard score and 14-7 lead with 14:04 left in the second quarter.  It was his first career interception and the Wildcats’ first pick-six of the season.
•    Knight quickly responded to his interception with a two-play, 69-yard scoring drive to tie it up at 14-all just 22 seconds later. Knight hit former quarterback Blake Bell for a 22-yard reception before connecting with Sterling Sheperd for a 47-yard touchdown catch.
•    K-State marched 75 yards on nine plays on its next possession to regain the lead at 21-14 with 9:33 remaining in the second quarter. Waters connected with Lockett four times on the drive, including a 9-yard score on third-and-goal. A key play on the drive was a 38-yard reception by Lockett with the Wildcats’ on their own 35.
•    Knight again had the Sooners on the move on the next series, as he completed a 12-yard pass to Shepard to set up first down at the Wildcat 22. However, the defense held strong, holding Perine on a 1-yard rush on first down followed by a pair of incomplete passes by Knight to force a 38-yard field goal by Hunnicutt to cut the lead to 21-17 with 4:24 in the second quarter.
•    After a stop by the defense, Knight quickly marched the Sooners down to the Wildcat 15 after a 23-yard catch by Michiah Quick. However, with timing running out before halftime, Hunnicutt tried another field goal but his 32-yard attempt sailed wide left, as K-State headed to the locker room with a 21-17 lead.

HOW IT HAPPENED | Second Half
•    K-State began the second half with a 7-play, 65-yard drive capped by a 27-yard field goal by McCrane to increase the lead to 24-17. The first play from scrimmage, Waters scampered 53 yards to give the Wildcats a first down at the Sooner 22. The 53-yard rush was a career-best for the quarterback topping the 50-yard against Texas Tech just two weeks ago.
•    Oklahoma drove 64 yards on seven plays in just 2 minutes and 16 seconds on the next series to tie the game up at 24-all at the 9:32 mark of the third quarter, as Knight connected with Bell for a 4-yard score. The drive was set up by a pair of catches by Dimitri Flowers (16 yards) and Shepard (28 yards).
•    The Wildcats again responded to the Sooner score, driving 75 yards on just five plays to regain the lead at 31-24. Robinson opened the series with back-to-back rushes for 47 yards, including a 38-yarder on first down. Waters then hit Sexton for a 21-yard strike to set up his four-yard run with 6:57 left in the third quarter.
•    Knight once again had the Sooners in position to answer the Wildcat touchdown, but Morgan Burns intercepted a wide receiver pass by Durron Neal in the end zone to end the threat.
•    Backed up at their own 7-yard line, Oklahoma opened the fourth quarter with an 11-play, 93-yard drive that was capped by a 9-yard touchdown from Knight to Neal. However, Hunnicutt had his extra point blocked by Britz to keep the score at 31-30 with 10:35 remaining.
•    Oklahoma forced a three-and-out to set up a drive at their own 30. Riding the back of Perine, who had 44 yards on eight carries on the series, the Sooners had first and goal at the Wildcat 4 and were primed to take the lead. However, after stopping Perine on three straight rushes, the Sooners were forced to attempt another short field goal and Hunnicutt missed the 19-yarder wide left with 3:53 remaining.
•    With the ball on its own 20 and clinging to a one-point lead, Waters hit Sexton for a 6-yard reception to give the Wildcats a first down at their own 33. After a 3-yard rush by Jones forced Oklahoma to use its final timeout, he broke off a 9-yard run on second down and seven to seal the victory.

UP NEXT: TEXAS (2-4, 1-2 Big 12)
•    K-State begins a two-game home stand on Saturday, Oct. 25, as the Wildcats host Texas (2-4, 1-2 Big 12) at Bill Snyder Family Stadium at 11 a.m. CT on ESPN.