Klein lifts No. 17 Kansas St. past A&M
Bill Snyder wonders whether his team is trying to get rid of him.
All these dramatic finishes involving No. 17 Kansas State, including a four-overtime victory over Texas A&M on Saturday night, just might be too much for his 72-year-old heart to take.
The Wildcats needed a late touchdown to beat Eastern Kentucky in their season opener, and a goal line stand on the road against Miami. They rallied to beat Baylor by a point, and overcame a big deficit to knock off Texas Tech earlier this season.
”He says that every week, that we’re going to give him a heart attack,” cornerback David Garrett said with a sly smile. ”Nah, we love him. We don’t want to get rid of him.”
Especially the way he has the Wildcats rolling.
Collin Klein threw for a career-high 281 yards, added 103 yards on the ground and accounted for six touchdowns Saturday night, the final one a sneak from a yard out in the fourth overtime to give Kansas State a dramatic 53-50 victory over the Aggies.
”There were some big ups and downs,” Klein said, ”but there have been some big ups and downs all year. I’m just so proud of everyone.”
Kansas State (8-2, 5-2 Big 12) rallied from a 10-point deficit in the final 6 minutes to send the game to overtime and eventually hand the Aggies (5-5, 3-4) their third consecutive loss.
”It was a great game, but being on the losing end of it leaves a sour taste in my mouth,” Aggies coach Mike Sherman said. ”Certainly a great game to watch, but you put so much into it, you need to come home with a victory, and we didn’t do that.”
They had their chances.
Texas A&M had the ball first in the fourth overtime and moved down to the Kansas State 3 before its drive stalled. Facing fourth-and-1, Sherman elected to play it safe and kick the chip-shot field goal, and that gave Kansas State the opening it needed.
Klein pounded forward for three yards on third-and-3 at the 18 for a first down, and a pass interference call on the Aggies’ Toney Hurd Jr. in the end zone gave Kansas State the ball at the 2.
Klein went straight up the middle twice, getting across the goal line on his second try as the crowd erupted. The Wildcats poured off the sideline to celebrate the victory, piling up at the goal line before heading over to the student section on the east side of the stadium.
The win was especially sweet for Snyder.
He was on the Kansas State sideline back in 1998, when the Wildcats lost to the Aggies in double overtime in the Big 12 championship game, costing them a chance to play for a national title.
”I don’t know how many ways I can say it,” Snyder said. ”Our young people in our program are getting better. When you improve, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll win.”
Cyrus Gray ran for 218 yards and two touchdowns, and Ryan Tannehill threw for 210 yards and three touchdowns for the Aggies, who lost in overtime to Missouri two weeks ago and fell to Oklahoma last week. They’ll need to beat Kansas or Texas in their remaining games to become bowl eligible.
”It’s a tough loss. Probably one of the biggest games I’ve ever played in, and we didn’t come up on top,” Gray said. ”They’re a great team. They came out on top. They were the best team tonight.”
The game was tied at 21 early in the fourth quarter when Kansas State’s John Hubert fumbled at his own 29. The Aggies’ Terrence Frederick recovered the ball, and Gray scored the go-ahead touchdown when he went virtually untouched right up the middle from 7 yards out.
Gray sprang free for a 63-yard run moments later, setting up a 17-yard field goal by Texas A&M’s Randy Bullock that made it 31-21 with 6:38 remaining.
Accustomed to late-game pressure, Kansas State never buckled.
Klein hit Chris Harper in stride for a 53-yard touchdown pass that pulled the Wildcats within a field goal with 5:49 left. The defense forced Texas A&M into three-and-out, and Kansas State took over at its own 32. Two 15-yard penalties on the defense helped the Wildcats move down field, and Anthony Cantele’s 44-yard field goal into a stiff breeze tied the game at 31.
That’s how it remained at the end of regulation.
The Wildcats had the ball first in overtime and took just three plays to score. Klein slithered up the middle from 9 yards out and fumbled just shy of the goal line, but wide receiver Tramaine Thompson was there to recover it for a touchdown.
The Aggies answered when Tannehill hit Jeff Fuller on a 9-yard slant route for a score.
The teams traded field goals in the second overtime, and Klein wasted no time in the third extra session. Dropping back to pass, he noticed the left side of the field clear out and took off in a dead sprint for the pylon, going untouched 25 yards for the touchdown.
The Wildcats failed to convert the 2-point try, and Texas A&M nearly made them pay.
Faced with fourth-and-goal at the 8-yard line, Tannehill deftly sidestepped a defender in the backfield and found Uzoma Nwachukwu in the corner of the end zone for the tying score. But his throw to Fuller on the Aggies’ 2-point try bounced incomplete, sending the game to a fourth overtime.
That’s all that Kansas State would need.
”Kept hanging together, kept hanging tough,” Klein said. ”When nobody thought we had a chance, we did. Coach Snyder instills that in us, and it carried over today.”