NORMAN, Okla. — With a short field goal the only thing standing between Oklahoma and the lead late in the game, Michael Hunnicutt just had to do what he’s done for more than three years: be automatic.
No. 11 Oklahoma, trailing by a point in the fourth quarter, had finally seized momentum after playing catch-up for much of the game. The Sooners (5-2, 2-2 Big 12) drove to the Kansas State 1-yard line, but couldn’t punch the ball in.
Neither could Hunnicutt.
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Hunnicutt missed a chip-shot field goal that would have put the Sooners ahead with 3:53 remaining. A stunned home crowd gasped and groaned, and No. 14 Kansas State (5-1, 3-0) took possession and ran out the clock, defeating Oklahoma 31-30 on Saturday.
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder was just as surprised as Oklahoma’s fans about the mistake by Hunnicutt, Oklahoma’s all-time scoring leader and a preseason All-Big 12 pick.
"The youngster that missed the field goal, he will go another hundred years without missing another field goal," Snyder said. "So we were just lucky. That happens."
Hunnicutt missed a total of two short field goals and had an extra point blocked. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said he’d trust Hunnicutt again in a pressure situation.
"I feel for Michael," Stoops said. "He’s been an excellent kicker for us and a great young man. We all love him. I feel that for him, because unfortunately, the kicker, that just kind of sticks out."
Oklahoma tight end Blake Bell said it wasn’t all Hunnicutt’s fault.
"Hunnicutt’s a great kicker," Bell said. "I mean, he makes every single kick that I’ve ever seen — it’s ridiculous — so you can’t blame it on him. Hunny, the type of guy he is, he’s going to bounce back and be great and make field goals for us."
Jake Waters passed for 225 yards and two touchdowns for the Wildcats, who also beat Oklahoma in Norman two years ago.
Oklahoma’s Sterling Shepard tied a school record with 15 catches and had 197 yards receiving. Trevor Knight passed for 318 yards and three touchdowns for Oklahoma (5-2, 2-2), which saw its playoff hopes take a severe hit.
Knight headed to the locker room with 8:44 left in the first quarter after taking a hit to the back. Backup quarterback Cody Thomas stepped in for the rest of the drive and led the Sooners to a touchdown. Samaje Perine’s 2-yard scoring run gave the Sooners a 7-0 lead.
Kansas State answered quickly when Glenn Gronkowski caught a 62-yard touchdown pass from Waters.
Knight returned to the game. He threw out of his end zone, and Kansas State’s Danzel McDaniel stepped in front of Durron Neal and returned the interception 5 yards for a touchdown to put Kansas State ahead a minute into the second quarter.
Knight came right back and found Bell over the middle for 22 yards, then found Shepard deep for a 47-yard touchdown that tied the score at 14.
Waters connected with Tyler Lockett in the back of the end zone for a 9-yard score that gave Kansas State a 21-14 lead.
Hunnicutt made a 38-yard field goal to cut Kansas State’s lead to 21-17. He could have cut the Wildcats’ lead again, a 32-yard field-goal attempt went wide left as time expired in the first half.
A 28-yard catch by Shepard helped set up Bell’s 4-yard touchdown catch that tied the score at 24.
Waters’ 3-yard touchdown run gave Kansas State a 31-24 lead.
Oklahoma reached the Kansas State 17, but Neal, a receiver, threw an interception to Morgan Burns late in the third quarter to end the threat.
Neal made up for it with his first career touchdown catch, a 9-yarder that cut Kansas State’s lead to 31-30, but Kansas State’s Travis Britz blocked the extra point, and that turned out to be the difference.
The Wildcats emerged as a contender for the Big 12 title, and perhaps, a spot in the college football playoff. It was their first win over a ranked team this season, and it came against a marquee opponent on the road. Kansas State’s only loss was a close call at home against Auburn.
Though Oklahoma outgained the Wildcats 533 yards to 385, Kansas State took advantage by avoiding mistakes and taking advantage of opportunities.
"Turnovers, those are significant," Snyder said. "In all reality, that is the difference in the ballgame. We get a turnover and get seven points out of it and we don’t turn the ball over. The right numbers can tell you something, but not yardage."