Collin Klein is a lot of things, but on Saturday night, we all found out the Heisman hopeful isn’t invincible, even though it may seem like it.
The senior quarterback left the game midway through the third quarter after suffering an injury on a 1-yard touchdown sneak and did not return.
With Klein out, and freshman quarterback Daniel Sams in, the third-ranked Wildcats still did enough down the stretch, especially defensively, to hold off Oklahoma State and keep their perfect season alive with a 44-30 win at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
Without giving any specifics, all K-State coach Bill Snyder would say regarding Klein was that he was, in fact, injured. At first it wasn’t so clear if Klein was hurt, as he was standing on the sideline, seemingly getting no special attention, and clapping, while being focused on the game.
“He obviously was injured or we wouldn’t have taken him out,” Snyder said of Klein, who completed 16-of-22 passes for 245 yards and rushed for another 64 yards and a score.
Leading 38-17 when Klein left the game, the Wildcats had to rely on a pair of second-half field goals from Anthony Cantele, and then sealed the win when Allen Chapman picked off his third pass of the game in the end zone with 2:06 to play.
That was just the cap of a big night for Chapman, who picked off two different quarterbacks in the win and scored his second touchdown against the Cowboys in as many seasons when he returned Wes Lunt’s pass 29 yards to the end zone. Chapman’s scored gave the Wildcats a 31-17 halftime lead.
“That’s a very good offensive football team… and the turnovers really occurred in very dramatic times,” Snyder said. “But when you look at the field position, and where they were, I mean, when they get down in there they’re a threat to put it in the end zone, and they were getting close.”
Chapman’s touchdown wasn’t the only fireworks in the second quarter, though, as K-State and Oklahoma State traded kickoff returns for touchdowns.
Tyler Lockett got the first one — a 100-yard return to give the Wildcats a 24-10 lead midway through the quarter. It was Lockett’s second kickoff return for touchdown this season and the fourth return of his career.
But Lockett didn’t even get a chance to catch his breathe before he had to go back onto the field after the Cowboys’ Desmond Roland answered Lockett’s score on the ensuing kickoff with an 80-yard touchdown of his own to stay within a touchdown of the Cats.
“I haven’t seen anything like that before,” Lockett said. “I was chatting with Tramaine (Thompson) on the side and then all of a sudden, we looked up to see what was going on, and I was like, ‘did they just score?’ and he was like, ‘yeah.’”
The big second quarter came after K-State dominated the first quarter, but only had seven points to show for it — a 1-yard rush by running back John Hubert, who finished with 38 yards and two TDs on nine carries. Oklahoma State scored first, on a 54-yard pass from Lunt to Austin Hays, but K-State had the ball for more than 11 minutes in the quarter, running twice as many plays as the Cowboys (6-3, 3-2) and producing 63 more yards.
K-State, now 9-0 for the first time since the 1999 season, finished with 481 yards of total offense.
Klein, who scored his 50th career touchdown, extended the Wildcats’ lead to 38-17 with his sneak at the 9:47 mark of the third quarter. He pushed his way into the end zone after his first try was overturned after sprinting to the pylon from 11 yards the play before.
The Cowboys, who had 504 total yards, answered Klein’s score with the second of three field goals from Quinn Sharp on the night to make it 38-20 with 7:07 to play in the third quarter.
Then when Klein was due back on the field on the ensuing K-State possession, it was Sams who took the reins in his first significant action of the season that wasn’t late in the fourth quarter.
Sams didn’t disappoint either, as he completed 5-of-6 passes for 45 yards, nearly missing a touchdown pass to Chris Harper in the corner of the end zone. He also rushed seven times for 20 yards.
“I thought Daniel did reasonably well,” Snyder said. “He didn’t make any major mistakes, he ran out of bounds one time when we were trying to run out the clock… Aside from that, he managed the game OK… I thought he played well.”
Aside from Chapman’s play in the secondary, Snyder wasn’t overly pleased with the pass defense though. The Wildcats, while limiting the Big 12’s leading rushing Joseph Randle to just 43 yards, surrendered 417 passing yards between Lunt and Clint Chelf. Lunt was 11-of-20 for 184 yards with two interceptions to Chapman and one to Nigel Malone, while Chelf completed 16-of-27 passes for 233 yards.
“We weren’t doing what we’re supposed to be doing,” Snyder said of the secondary. “Two things — there was some confusion in regards to responsibility as it relates to coverage, number two, it’s easy to say execution, but not being able to get yourself where you needed to be in order to defend against the throws that were made is the best way I can put it.”
K-State won’t have much time to think about this game, though, as the Wildcats now prepare to go on the road to face TCU this Saturday.
“There’s a lot more pressure, I mean, obviously we’re going to get everybody’s best shot each week, so we just need to come out and get better, be prepared for it, not take anybody for granted.”