K-State’s Comeback Falls Short at Oklahoma State

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By D. Scott Fritchen

STILLWATER, Okla. – Kansas State knew it would be a tough challenge going into Boone Pickens Stadium. But the Wildcats didn’t know that Oklahoma State would save one of its best efforts this season for a Friday night game.

Will Howard rushed for 104 yards and one touchdown, DJ Giddens added 65 rushing yards and Treshaun Ward had 59 on the ground, but K-State suffered a 29-21 loss at Oklahoma State in front of a sellout crowd of 53,855.

The Wildcats, who sought their first win in Stillwater since 2017, kept things close for a majority of the first half, and came back from a 26-7 deficit to make things interesting down the stretch.

Howard, who passed for 152 yards, accounted for two scores, including a brilliant 70-yard rush to the 1-yard line to set up a touchdown pass to Ben Sinnott to make it 10-7 in the second quarter. Then he rushed for a six-yard score that pulled K-State to within 29-21 with 8 minutes, 56 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

But K-State struggled to extend drives. That became troubling down the stretch when the Wildcats had a chance.

Oklahoma State got tricky as quarterback Alan Bowman appeared to speak with coaches on the sideline and tight end tight end Josiah Johnson took the snap on fourth-and-1, but the Wildcats stiffened and the offense regained possession at the K-State 40 with 5:17 left.

However, the Wildcats, who went just 6-for-16 on third down and 1-for-4 on fourth down, were unable to turn another possession into any points.

After the K-State defense forced a punt, the offense regained possession with 3 minutes to go and needing a touchdown and a 2-point conversion to tie the game. However, Oklahoma State linebacker Collin Oliver knocked down Howard’s final pass attempt on fourth down and the Cowboys drained the clock.

Howard completed 15-of-34 passes for 152 yards and one touchdown and three interceptions. Sinnott had four catches for 39 yards and one touchdown and Giddens had four catches for 28 yards.

Although Oklahoma State outgained K-State 412-372, the Wildcats’ defense allowed just one rushing touchdown and forced Oklahoma State place-kicker Alex Hale to make field goals of 43, 34, 53, 31 and 25 yards.

K-State, 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the Big 12, came off a 44-31 win against UCF followed by a bye week. The Wildcats next prepare to visit Texas Tech. Oklahoma State, 3-2 and 1-1, also came off a bye week. The Cowboys get three of their next four games at home.

Although K-State thumped Oklahoma State 48-0 in Manhattan last season, the Wildcats had difficulties throughout the contest on Friday. Already playing without starting cornerback Jacob Parrish, the Wildcats suffered another key loss when Will Lee III, their other starting cornerback, went down while making a tackle in the second quarter.

K-State faced a 20-7 halftime deficit, which only grew when Hale drilled a 53-yard field goal and a 31-yarder in the third quarter.

But K-State didn’t quit. It scored its second touchdown of the game when Ward took the ball 11 yards. Howard ran in a 2-point conversion to make it 26-15 at the end of the third quarter.

Hale’s 25-yard field goal gave the Cowboys a 29-15 advantage with 11:31 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter before the Wildcats mounted a comeback that fell just short.

Oklahoma State, which had scored 14 points in the first quarter this season, got on top early when Gordon Ollie rushed two yards over the middle to cap a 15-play, 72-yard drive that took 5:24.

K-State tried to respond but Cameron Epps intercepted a deep pass, marking the first Cowboys’ first turnover forced since September 9. Hale added a 45-yard field goal to make it 10-0.

Moments later, the Wildcats found the end zone.

Howard rushed to his right for an incredible 70-yard gain and reviews showed that his dive landed just before the pylon as he tried to outrun Kendal Daniels. However, Howard bootlegged and hit Sinnott deep in the end zone for a score two plays later.

It was the biggest offensive highlight for K-State in a difficult first two quarters, as Oklahoma State led 287-133 in total offense and had scoring drive of 15 plays, eight plays and eight plays.

The K-State defense provided a highlight of its own. After Elijah Collins rushed four yards on a fake punt for a first down, then Jaden Bray caught a pass at the 35 and raced to the 2-yard line on a 45-yard catch-and-run, the Wildcats made a crucial stand.

K-State held Oklahoma State three straight plays inside the 4 and Marques Sigle blocked Hale’s 21-yard field goal attempt.

Oklahoma State put together another drive and Hale made a 34-yard field goal with 55 seconds remaining in the second quarter to make it 13-7 — a lead that grew when Epps made his second interception and raced 35 yards into the end zone for a touchdown before the teams went into the locker room.