MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) Kansas State knew it needed to hold onto the ball better than it did last week to have a chance of knocking off No. 15 Baylor on Saturday.
The Wildcats were doing a good job of it, too, until the game was on the line.
Daniel Sams threw his fourth interception of the season in the closing minutes, with the Wildcats trying to drive for the go-ahead score, allowing the Bears to escape with a 35-25 victory.
“I think at the end of the day, and I don’t see them as little things, it still boils down to mistakes,” said Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, whose team had five turnovers in a loss to Oklahoma State a week ago.
Ahmad Dixon had the interception for the Bears (5-0, 2-0 Big 12), who ran their winning streak to nine games dating to their upset on unbeaten Kansas State last season.
Bryce Petty threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns. Tevin Reese had five catches for 184 yards and two scores, and Antwan Goodley had five catches for 139 yards and another touchdown.
“It was a huge team win all-around,” said Petty, whose three TD passes all went for more than 50 yards. “The defense stepped up huge. I thought they had a great game.”
Sams ran for 199 yards and three touchdowns for the Wildcats, who led 25-21 midway through the third quarter. But they twice failed on 2-point conversion attempts, missed a tying field-goal try in the fourth quarter, and then Sams was picked off by Dixon to seal the outcome.
The defending Big 12 champion, Kansas State (2-4) is 0-3 in the Big 12 for the first time since 2004, shortly before coach Bill Snyder stepped away for a brief retirement.
“It’s too many points to give up,” Snyder said. “I don’t care if it’s Baylor or anybody else.”
The Bears had scored at least 28 points in the first quarter of each of their games this season, so it was a mild victory for the Wildcats that they only managed a lone touchdown on Saturday.
Petty finished off a grinding 12-play, 59-yard drive by sneaking across the goal line on fourth down to give Baylor the lead. But the Wildcats quickly answered early in the second quarter, when Sams carried eight consecutive times on a 78-yard drive that he finished off with a 1-yard plunge.
Baylor’s score-a-minute offense finally got on track midway through the second quarter, and it was a breakdown by the Kansas State defense that provided the window.
Reese ran past defensive back Randall Evans and Petty hit him in stride for a 93-yard touchdown reception, the second-longest scoring pass in the Bears’ 115-year history.
The Wildcats answered with a 68-yard drive that they capped with Jack Cantele’s 24-yard field goal, but the Bears needed all of two plays and 38 seconds to score again. This time, it was Goodley who hauled in a 72-yard pass from Petty to give Baylor a 21-10 lead heading into halftime.
So accustomed to games being over by then, perhaps the Bears forgot they needed to keep playing.
The Wildcats marched 13 plays on the opening drive of the third quarter and Cantele’s 32-yard field goal made it 21-13. Kansas State quickly forced a Baylor punt, and Weston Hiebert broke through the line and got his hand on it to give the Wildcats prime field position.
Sams, who had briefly gone to the locker room with a shoulder injury, returned to score on a 2-yard plunge. His 2-point conversion pass was batted away, though, leaving Baylor with a 21-19 lead.
The Bears gave the ball right back when Petty was stripped by Ryan Mueller while scrambling toward the sideline. Kansas State took over at Baylor 44 and needed just 12 plays to finally pull ahead.
Undaunted by giving up 15 straight points, Baylor came right back early in the fourth quarter. Petty hit Reese on a 54-yard scoring strike to give the Bears a 28-25 lead with 14:33 to go.
“We busted the coverage,” Snyder said. “There was miscommunication and someone wasn’t disciplined and focused enough to get what the scheme is.”
The Wildcats still had chances down the stretch, only to fritter them away.
Cantele pulled a 41-yard field goal wide left that would have tied the game with 6:49 left. After the Kansas State defense held, Sams was picked off by Dixon with 3:48 remaining when it appeared that the sophomore quarterback was trying to throw the ball away.
Glasco Martin added a 21-yard touchdown run with 1:16 remaining to put the game away.
“We moved the ball at times but we kind of shot ourselves in the foot at times, too,” said the Wildcats’ Jake Waters, who shared time with Sams at quarterback. “For the most part I thought we played good enough to win the game. We’ve just got to make those plays to get the W.”