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Last-second Baylor field goal sends K-State to fourth straight loss, 32-31

Arne Green
agreen@saina.com
Kansas State  running back Deuce Vaughn (22) breaks free for a 38-yard touchdown run against Baylor on Saturday in Waco, Texas.

The Kansas State Wildcats were brilliant on defense for two quarters.

Then Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer went to work.

Brewer was unstoppable and the Bears scored on five of six second-half possessions, claiming a 32-31 victory on John Mayers' 30-yard field goal as time expired Saturday night at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas.

It was the fourth straight loss for K-State, which fell to 4-5 overall and 4-4 in the Big 12.

With the exception of an early Baylor touchdown, the Wildcats led the whole way and still had a nine-point advantage with less than nine minutes left, but could not come up with enough plays on either side of the ball to stop the Bears' momentum.

Brewer completed 31 of 39 passes for 349 yards and rushed for 56 more to lead Baylor, which racked up 332 of its 420 yards total offense in the second half. The victory also ended a five-game losing streak for the Bears, who improved to 2-5 overall and in the Big 12.

"Not much to say. It's a game we should have won," K-State coach Chris Klieman said. "I told the guys I'm sorry, I'm sick for them, because we did some really good things, but we didn't make some winning plays at the end.

"And give Baylor and Charlie Brewer, who I think is and unbelievable player, unbelievable competitor, credit. They did make the plays at the end of the game to win."

After a shaky third quarter in which Baylor shrunk its 17-6 halftime deficit to two points, K-State (4-5, 4-4 Big 12) came back to score twice in the fourth quarter and led 31-22 following Deuce Vaughn's 38-yard touchdown run with 8:59 left. But the Wildcats went three-and-out on their last possession, setting up Baylor's winning 57-yard drive.

"It just sucks because we were so close to winning this game," said defensive end Wyatt Hubert, who had two of K-State's seven sacks. "We're going out at practice every week and we're attacking every week, every single day.

"Probably the most frustrating things is putting in so much hard work and not getting the result that you want. That was a close game, it came down to the wire. It sucks that we couldn't finish it, but that's just part of the game."

Baylor turned up the pressure to start the second half, marching 64 yards to the K-State 11 before settling for a 28-yard Mayer field goal. The Bears then cut it to 17-15 with 7:16 left in the third period when Brewer hit RJ Sneed for a 23-yard touchdown to cap a seven-play, 63-yard drive.

K-State did not pick up a first down on offense in the third quarter, but got its lone defensive stop of the half to end the quarter. The Wildcat offense responded with a quick two-play drive as Will Howard hit tight end Briley Moore for 49 yards, then scored on a 24-yard keeper that pushed the lead back to nine with 13:57 left.

After Baylor scored again on an 8-yard Brewer-to-Trestan Ebner pass to get back within two, K-State used a four-play, 60-yard drive to once more make it a two-possession game. Vaughn and Harry Trotter each had two carries with Vaughn picking up the last 38.

Following a 40-yard Ebner return on the ensuing kickoff, Brewer took Baylor 54 yards in nine plays before scoring from the 1-yard line with 4:16 left. K-State managed just 4 yards on its next possession, setting Baylor up at its own 31 with 2:32 to go.

On the first play, Cody Fletcher caught Brewer from behind and Daniel Green jarred the ball loose. The Wildcats recovered the fumble, but the call was overturned by a replay ruling that Brewer was down.

"I thought it was probably the right call," Klieman said.

That was the break Baylor needed, moving to the K-State 11 before calling timeout with four seconds on the clock to set up the winning field goal.

Vaughn, who led K-State with 102 yards rushing on 19 carries, called it the hardest loss to swallow for the Wildcats.

"I would say so, just because we fought so hard," he said. "I commend all my teammates for fighting with me, and I fought with them and wanted to do this for them.

"We fought for the entire four quarters and it came down to the ball didn't really bounce our way and they made a few more plays than we did."

Howard, who was replaced by Nick Ast during last week's 45-0 loss to Iowa State, returned for his sixth straight start, completing 9 of 18 passes for 88 yards with two interceptions.

"We thought he gave us the best chance to be successful," Klieman said of the freshman, who took over as the starter when Skylar Thompson went down with a season-ending injury in the third game, against Texas Tech.

K-State again was shorthanded at key positions as the result of COVID-19 testing, playing a second straight game without starting linebackers Justin Hughes and Elijah Sullivan, leaving no relief for replacements Green and Fletcher. Green had 13 tackles, including 2.5 for loss with 1.5 sacks, while Fletcher made eight stops, also with 1.5 sacks.

The Wildcats also learned just before leaving Manhattan that starting guards Josh Rivas and Ben Adler would not make the trip. They were replaced by freshman Taylor Poitier and junior Dawson Delforge, with freshman Cooper Beebe later moving inside from his tackle spot.

K-State led 17-6 at halftime behind a stellar defensive effort that limited Baylor to 88 total yards before the break.

The only Bears score in the half came after JT Woods picked off a Howard pass on the game's third play and returned it to the Wildcat 9. Brewer got the touchdown on a 7-yard run, but a bad snap kept the Bears from getting the point-after kick off.

K-State answered immediately following the kickoff as Malik Knowles took a handoff on a sweep left and ran 75 yards for the score. Blake Lynch's point after put the Wildcats in front, 7-6.

A Baylor miscue helped K-State extend the lead when Ebner muffed a punt at his 33-yard line and Wayne Jones recovered at the 35. Seven plays later, on third and goal, Howard hit Vaughn up the middle for an 8-yard touchdown.

The Wildcats tacked on a 20-yard Lynch field goal with 13:02 left in the half and then turned things over to the defense.