Aggies fall short against No. 17 K-State in 4 OTs

BY foxsports • November 13, 2011

Instead of going for it on fourth-and-1 in the fourth overtime Saturday night, Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman elected to play it safe and kick a field goal.

It ultimately led to the Aggies' third straight loss.

Kansas State's Collin Klein scored the final touchdown on a quarterback sneak moments later, his sixth of the game, giving the No. 17 Wildcats a dramatic 53-50 victory.

''We haven't been great at it all year long,'' Sherman said of fourth-down conversions. ''I felt like at that point you had to kick it.''

Texas A&M also settled for a field goal in the fourth quarter, which made it 31-21 with 6:38 remaining. The lead turned out not to be enough, but Sherman didn't second-guess going for it when he was presented another chance in the fourth overtime.

After all, Texas A&M had been just 1 of 6 on fourth downs this season.

''We had a lot of chances in regulation and in overtime, and we didn't make it happen,'' said Ryan Tannehill, who threw for 210 yards and three TDs. ''That's part of why it's tough to swallow.''

Klein threw for a career-high 281 yards and added 103 yards on the ground for the Wildcats (8-2, 5-2 Big 12), who rallied from a 10-point deficit in the final 6 minutes of regulation to snap their own two-game skid and keep the Aggies (5-5, 3-4) from becoming bowl eligible.

''They're a great team,'' said Cyrus Gray, who added 218 yards rushing and two scores for the Aggies. ''They came out on top. They were the best team tonight.''

Texas A&M, which beat Kansas State in double-overtime in the 1998 Big 12 title game, also lost in overtime to Missouri two weeks ago and fell to Oklahoma last week. The Aggies will need to beat Kansas or Texas in their remaining two games to qualify for a bowl game.

It looked like they'd take care of that in regulation Saturday night.

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. Again, the four-point difference between a touchdown-extra point combo and a field goal would come back to haunt the Aggies.

Again, Sherman said the team had to kick it.

''We didn't get (the first down) on the play before on third-and-1, we didn't get it on another fourth down we went for it. It wasn't a whole lot of confidence to get it at that point,'' Sherman said. ''If we go for it and don't get it, they would have ended the game in regulation, so we kicked the field goal to make a two-possession game with not much time left.''

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 with 4:40 left. Two 15-yard penalties on the defense helped the Wildcats move down field, and Anthony Cantele's 44-yard field goal into the wind tied the game.

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 coach Bill Snyder and the Wildcats 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.''

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