MANHATTAN — All it needed was one stop. One stop to keep the hope alive for a potentially season-changing upset. Unfortunately, on a night filled with missed opportunities, that was not the case. K-State (3-4, 1-3 Big 12) allowed a touchdown with seven seconds left on the clock to fall to No. 9 Oklahoma (6-1, 3-1 Big 12) by a final score of 35-42 Saturday night at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan.
"(This loss was) extremely frustrating. We're one play away from (the media) asking how great the win feels, but we have to talk about how frustrating it is," junior offensive lineman Dalton Risner said.
K-State opened Saturday's game with a bang. On the second play from scrimmage, sophomore running back Alex Barnes ran for a 75 yard touchdown to give K-State a 7-0 lead over Oklahoma.
"That felt great. It was a big relief to get off of my back. It's been a while since I've been able to break a long run like that. It felt really good," Barnes said.
Barnes rushed for 96 yards on three carries in the first quarter. However, he didn't receive another carry until the fourth quarter. Barnes talked about how frustrating that was, and gave some possible reasons why the offense went away from him for much of the game.
"It was very frustrating. The plays were there. In that first half, (K-State's running backs) really got after it. The looks were there and we were getting everything we wanted. We just kind of went away from that in the second half," Barnes said.
Oklahoma tied the game with 12:16 left in the first quarter. The tie held for much of the first quarter, until sophomore quarterback Alex Delton rushed for a one-yard touchdown with 1:26 left in the first quarter to put K-State in front 14-7.
By the end of the first half, K-State built a 21-10 lead over Oklahoma behind 138 yards rushing and two touchdowns from Delton.
K-State's defense played a tremendous half, helping shut down Oklahoma star senior quarterback Baker Mayfield. Sophomore defensive back Denzel Goolsby made one of the biggest plays of the game in the second quarter, as he ripped the ball away from an Oklahoma receiver as he was going out of bounds to get an interception in the end zone. It was Mayfield's second interception all season.
"I tried to feel out (Oklahoma's receiver). I felt him going up in the air to high point the ball. He was a big receiver, so I just tried to compete for it. I felt that he caught it at first, so after that I was just trying to strip it out of his hands and fight through it. Luckily I happened to come up with the ball," Goolsby said.
Oklahoma's offense came alive during the third quarter. The Sooners gained 238 total yards of offense in the quarter, and scored 10 points to make it a one-point ballgame. On K-State's side, the Wildcats were only able to muster 13 yards of offense in the quarter.
"It was definitely tough. We were hoping to come back out, because (Oklahoma) really wasn't able to stop us in the first half. We were stopping ourselves with a couple of turnovers. They have a great defense and they came out and made some adjustments and played hard. They were able to shut us down for a bit. It was definitely tough," junior tight end Dayton Valentine said.
Oklahoma took its first lead of the game with 14:19 left in the fourth quarter on a Mayfield touchdown run to go up by a score of 21-28.
K-State regained some momentum a couple of drives later, as Oklahoma fumbled a punt deep in its own territory, which the Wildcats recovered at the 13 yard line. Delton rushed for his third score of the day a few plays later to tie the game at 28-28 with 6:40 remaining in the game.
It only took three plays for Oklahoma to regain the lead on a Mayfield touchdown pass with 5:16 left in the game.
On K-State's very next drive, Delton got the Wildcats in the red zone on two long throws to junior wide receiver Byron Pringle. Delton threw a touchdown to sophomore receiver Isaiah Zuber to tie the game at 35-35 with 2:25 left in the game.
Unfortunately, the K-State defense couldn't get a stop, allowing Mayfield to march Oklahoma all the way into field goal range. Oklahoma sophomore running back Rodney Anderson ran the ball in for a game-winning 22 yard touchdown with seven second remaining. Senior linebacker Jayd Kirby was called for a facemask penalty on the run.
"I went to go spill that block, and then (Anderson) ran outside. I grabbed his facemask. I didn't want to hold onto it too long, so I let go. (The officials) caught it and he kept on going to score the touchdown. I wish I could do that over again," Kirby said.
After struggling in his first start against TCU Oct. 14, Delton broke out against Oklahoma. He accounted for 286 yards of offense and four touchdowns and threw one interception. K-State head coach Bill Snyder talked about Delton's play Saturday.
"Barring the interception, I thought (Delton) played well. He made a couple of mental mistakes, but so did everybody else. Overall, he graded out pretty well. I'd just like to have the interception back," Snyder said.
Delton talked about his play.
"I felt extremely comfortable out there. I had some nerves, but as the game went on, I felt extremely comfortable. I felt like I was out there playing with my boys. It was good (against TCU) to get that experience," Delton said.
K-State will try to get back in the win column next Saturday, as it will head to Lawrence to face off against Kansas (1-6, 0-4 Big 12) in the latest installment of the Sunflower Showdown.