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October 5, 2013STILLWATER, Okla. -- Daniel Sams finally got his shot at quarterback for Kansas State and despite the Wildcats' efforts to pull off a road win Saturday at No. 21 Oklahoma State, a barrage of 12 penalties and five turnovers, four which were credited to Sams, cost the Cats dearly in a 33-29 defeat.
Somehow, though, the Wildcats had the ball late and were in O-State territory before Sams' final interception, on an ill-advised throw into heavy pass coverage, ended K-State's upset hopes.
"It's difficult, as it always would be," K-State coach Bill Snyder said of overcoming the mistakes. "In our history, we just have not been that kind of a football team. I mean, we haven't always been extremely good, but we haven't turned the ball over and we haven't always been penalized.
"We had a chance to win even with it, but it sure makes it a lot harder."
Sams marched the Wildcats on two second half drives of 79 and 57 yards to give the Wildcats the lead twice, but Oklahoma State's offense, despite its own inefficiencies in the game, were able to answer the Wildcats' points.
K-State's final points came on an 11-play drive that Sams capped off with a 3-yard touchdown run and then connected with a diving Torell Miller on the two-point conversion to put the Wildcats up, 29-23, with 6:09 left to play.
It, however, took O-State and quarterback J.W. Walsh just six plays to cruise 75 yards to take back the lead at 29-28. Then Sams underthrew a deep ball for his first of two backbreaking interceptions in the game's final four minutes. The first interception set up a 28-yard Ben Grogan field goal that scored the game's final points with 2:24 remaining.
"I left my heart out on the field, but as a quarterback I can't throw interceptions or fumble," Sams said. "I was trying to make plays that weren't there and not taking what the defense was giving me."
Junior Jake Waters started the game at quarterback for K-State, but after one play gave way to Sams who directed the team for all but a handful of plays, and helped the Wildcats march 57 yards on 11 plays for the team's final touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The loss drops K-State to 2-3 and 0-2 in Big 12 play, while O-State escaped and improved to 4-1 record and moved to 1-1 in the league.
K-State played most of the game without its two top receivers. Tramaine Thompson traveled with the team, but didn't see the field for an unspecified reason, and Tyler Lockett appeared to hurt a hamstring in the first half of the contest.
Sams was a mixed bag of awesome and awful throughout the game. He ran the ball 27 times for 118 yards and was credited with one controversial fumble, and completed 15 of 21 passes for 181 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
"Well, the good things we all saw, and the bad things we all saw," Snyder said of Sams. "It was exactly what we saw."
Sams came out in the second half and directed the Wildcats on an efficient 11-play, 79-yard touchdown drive that featured Sams running the ball four times, running back John Hubert carrying it three times and Sams connecting with senior receiver Miller on four passes, including a 17-yard touchdown pass to give the Wildcats 21-17 lead with 8:20 remaining on the third quarter clock.
"You knew they were looking for something to spark them. You knew they weren't pleased with their offensive outputs," OSU defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said. "After the first quarter, you knew you had to look at the gameplan. As a defensive staff, we had to change things up a bit."
K-State came into the game knowing it may need to score a special teams touchdown, but the program's first blocked field goal returned for a TD in 11 years was the least likely scenario. That's exactly what the Cats got with less than three minutes remaining in the first half, when Travis Britz burst up the middle and got a hand on a 43-yard attempt from Grogan.
The ball shot off Britz's hand and into the waiting arms of K-State cornerback Kip Daily, who caught the ball and was gone for a 65-yard touchdown that put the Wildcats up 14-10 with 2:45 remaining in the first half.
O-State answered, though, by going 64 yards in seven plays as Walsh darted into the end zone from 3 yards out with 50 seconds remaining in the half to give the Cowboys a 17-14 lead at the break.
"Throughout the whole game, we just had mental collapses with the little things and penalties," defensive end Ryan Mueller said. "We feel like we beat ourselves tonight."
K-State outgained OSU's potent offense 336-330 yards, a sign that Snyder's defense is making progress despite giving up a few key drives that allowed the Cowboys' to answer scores. K-State's defense improved on third downs by allowing just 4 of 14 conversions and the Wildcats held the ball for 35:32 of the game, including allowing the Cowboys just 8 minutes and 20 seconds of possession in the second half.
"I was really pleased with the effort and what they did in the second half of the ballgame," Snyder said. "I thought that early in the ballgame, we had some real issues, but they got them corrected."
K-State struck first with Sams faking a running play and then dumping the ball over the linebackers to his fullback Glen Gronkowski, who caught the ball and won a 67-yard footrace to the end zone to put K-State up 7-0 with 1:47 on the first quarter clock.
The Cowboys responded to K-State's first score, too, moving 66 yards on three plays -- fueled by a 43-yard pass from Walsh to Jahjaun Seales to the 3 -- to tie the game at 7 with 1:06 left in the first quarter.
Four minutes later, O-State took a 10-7 lead on a 30-yard Grogan field goal as the Cowboys (helped by K-State's blocked field goal TD) possessed the ball for more than 10 minutes of the second quarter, but then the Wildcats held the ball for 21:40 of the second half with the turnovers being the only thing that stopped them.
"It hurts losing to anybody, but we beat ourselves in a lot of areas and Oklahoma State took advantage," Sams said.
K-State returns home next Saturday to play host to Baylor in a 2:30 p.m. game.
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