Kansas State appeared well on its way to suffering its third straight loss against Oklahoma State Saturday afternoon at Snyder Family Stadium, trailing by 10 points with just more than four minutes left to play. The Wildcats offense found itself when K-State needed it the most, however, exploding for two late touchdowns in a 31-27 win over the Cowboys.
The Wildcats are a great chance to score the game's first points with a 4th-and-goal at the 1-yard line, but true freshman running back Leon Patton was stuffed 2 yards deep in the backfield for a loss. Patton set up K-State in the red zone with a 40-yard run on a 4th-and-1 from the 45-yard line, but the Wildcats were unable to convert the opportunity, allowing OSU to take over on downs.
K-State did get on the board first a few minutes later when Marcus Watts blocked a Matt Fodge punt that was returned 21 yards by Daniel Gonzalez to put the Wildcats up 7-0 with 11:15 left in the first quarter. That was the good news. The bad news was Watts suffering an injury to his right hand on the block. Watts would re-emerge from the locker room and returned to action with just less than four minutes left in the first half and play a key role in the finish.
OSU answered K-State's score with a 33-yard Jason Ricks field goal to cap off an eight-play, 64-yard drive. The key play came on a 31-yard run by Cowboy tailback Mike Hamilton, but the Wildcats were able to stop OSU short on a 3rd-and-1 from the 11-yard line, forcing the Cowboys to settle for a field goal.
K-State came back with a field goal of its own, a 48-yard make from Jeff Snodgrass to make it 10-3 with 3:36 left in the first half. Patton again led the way on the drive, ripping off a 21-yard run on the second play of the possession. James Johnson was stopped short of the first down on a third down try, bringing Snodgrass on.
The Wildcats were able to dodge a bullet on OSU's first drive of the second half when Cowboy wide receiver D'Juan Woods dropped a pass that could have gone for a score after getting open on a slant, which caused OSU to bring on Ricks for his second field goal of the day, this time from 38-yards out. The Cowboys got wide receiver Adarius Bowman going on the drive with catches of 14 and 29 yards on back to back plays as they cut the deficit to 10-6.
A 63-yard punt return by Perrish Cox set Oklahoma State up at the KSU 27-yards line on the Cowboys following possession, which led to a 2-yard touchdown toss from Bobby Reid to tight end Brandon Pettigrew that made it 13-10 Pokes with 5:36 left in the third quarter. The drive was kept alive by a facemask call against K-State on a third down run by Reid, helping to allow OSU to take its first lead on a seven-play, 27-yard drive.
It took little time for the Wildcats to respond to the Cowboys' score. Patton took the ensuing kickoff 95-yards for a touchdown, giving K-State it's second special teams score of the day and a 17-13 lead with just more than five minutes remaining in the third quarter. Patton ripped free of a tackle around K-State's 40-yard line and streaked the rest of the way for the score.
Oklahoma State answered right back with an 89-yard kickoff return from Grant Jones to set OSU up at the 11-yard line, and it took just one play for Keith Toston to get into the end zone after bouncing off a number of K-State tacklers, making the score 20-17 in favor of the Cowboys.
Toston continued to carve up the Wildcat defense on OSU's next possession, ripping off runs for 29 and 18 yards. Those runs, coupled with a 31-yard toss to Pettigrew, set up a 1-yard touchdown pass from Reid to fullback John Johnson to make it 27-17 in favor of the Cowboys with 10:48 left to play.
The Wildcats could have collapsed after falling down by two touchdowns, but instead they responded behind true freshman quarterback Josh Freeman. The Grandview, Mo., native led a six-play, 92-yard scoring drive that was capped off by a 1-yard Patton scoring run to cut the deficit to 27-24.
Freeman saved his best for last, however, scoring on a 21-yard touchdown run with just more than a minute to play in the fourth quarter to give K-State a 31-27 lead it would never relinquish.
OSU had plenty of chances at the end zone deep it KSU territory in the final seconds, but Watts broke up one toss into the end zone and intercepted Reid on the final play of the game to seal the Wildcat victory.
K-State was led offensively by Patton, who ran for 151 yards and a touchdown while adding another 117 yards on kick returns. Patton and the Wildcats will look to improve to 5-2 next week when Nebraska visits Manhattan.