Kansas State changed its uniform Saturday. It didn’t change the result though.
After starting the season 3-0, K-State lost its second consecutive game Saturday, falling to Baylor 31-12 in its Big 12 home opener at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
“It was a disappointing loss for us,” K-State head coach Chris Klieman said. “Congratulations to Baylor. They’ve got a good football team, a tremendous quarterback and a defense that is really fast. There’s a reason they’re 5-0 and playing at a high level. We told the guys, ‘We’re going to be good, but we’ve got to fix some problems. We’ve got to fix some issues that have crept up the past couple weeks.’”
Donning different uniforms — swapping out its traditional silver helmets and silver pants for white ones, while keeping purple jerseys — for the first time since at least 1988, the Wildcats (3-2, 0-2 Big 12) entered Saturday with the excitement that comes along with trying something new. Instead, the offense looked like the same lifeless unit it was in last week’s 26-13 loss at Oklahoma State.
Just as it did in that setback, K-State scored its lone touchdown in the fourth quarter. And once again, it was too little, too late to avoid another loss. The touchdown — a 5-yard toss on fourth-and-goal, with Skylar Thompson finding Dalton Schoen in the back of the end zone — cut Baylor’s lead to 24-12 with 6:24 remaining. The Wildcats then went for two, with Thompson losing the ball as he tried to cross the plane of the goal line.
But any momentum K-State’s first touchdown might have given it immediately was negated, as Baylor (5-0, 2-0) responded with a score of its own — a 46-yard jaunt by running back John Lovett, who wasn’t touched on his way to the end zone — to effectively put the nail in the coffin of the hosts.
“Defensively, we have to tackle better. It was an awful display of tackling downfield,” Klieman said. “We gave them a couple of scores, either because we didn’t fit it right or they bounced off of us. And that’s something we’ve been emphasizing and talking about: not block tackling and wrapping up. It’s something we’re going to get corrected.”
The 20 points the two teams combined for in the final period was a far cry from the first 15 minutes.
The only scoring in the first quarter came from the foot of Blake Lynch. The junior kicker knocked in a 31-yard field goal at the 2:11 mark to edge the Wildcats ahead 3-0.
The Bears countered with a field goal of their own less than a minute into the second period, with John Mayers’ kick from 36 yards splitting the uprights to tie the game at 3-all.
The only other score of the first half came on Baylor’s next drive, when it drove the length of the field — it covered 98 yards in six plays — for the game’s first touchdown. Nearly half the yardage came on back-to-back completions from Charlie Brewer to Tyquan Thornton. On the first, he picked up 27 yards to give Baylor first-and-10 from K-State’s 29-yard line. On the next, K-State cornerback AJ Parker whiffed in coverage, allowing a wide-open Thornton to walk into the end zone untouched.
After Mayers’ PAT, the Bears held their first advantage, 10-3, with 6:38 left in the half — a lead they took into the break.
Following a three-and-out from K-State to open the third quarter, Baylor was back on the board again. And the Bears again went 90-plus yards to do it. Almost mirroring its first touchdown drive, Baylor took just six plays to cross the goal line, and again took less than two and a half minutes off the clock to hit paydirt. The major difference between the two touchdowns: the second came on the ground, as Lovett broke multiple tackles on his way to a 13-yard score. Mayers tacked on the PAT to push the lead to 17-3.
K-State bounced back on the ensuing possession, with another field goal from Lynch, this one from 30 yards. It didn’t come without some frustration from K-State fans in attendance, however: Lynch trotted onto the field with K-State facing a fourth-and-4 at Baylor’s 11-yard line; down 14, fans wanted the Wildcats to try to pick up a fresh set of downs. When the field goal unit ran onto the field instead, the boos rained down.
Things only got worse on K-State’s next offensive possession, which started 15 seconds into the fourth quarter and Baylor up 17-6. On the fourth play of the drive, Baylor linebacker Clay Johnston tipped Thompson’s pass, which landed in the hands of safety Grayland Arnold. He then returned the interception — Thompson’s first of the season — 70 yards for a touchdown. The score was taken off the board because of a holding penalty on the return, but it didn’t matter.
Baylor went on to score, anyway.
With backup quarterback Gerry Bohanon taking over on the drive’s fourth play after Brewer exited with an injury, the reserve signal-caller wasted no time. On his first play, Bohanon connected with RJ Sneed for 38 yards to give Baylor first-and-goal at the 4-yard line. One play later, Bohanon squeaked into the end zone off the left side, just making it inside the pylon on a play that was reviewed, and eventually upheld.
Mayers PAT was true, extending the Bears’ lead to 24-6 with 10:34 remaining.
Off to an 0-2 in league play and losing back-to-back games for the first time since his lone season at Loras College in 2005, Klieman said if anyone was to blame for Saturday’s showing, it was him.
“We are all accountable,” he said. “We all have to be better, and it starts with me. I’ve got to be better and make sure to push the right buttons.”